[Dev] Code collaboration platform GitLab acquires rival Gitorious, will shut it down on June 1

Fabio Pesari fabio at pesari.eu
Wed Mar 4 09:33:07 GMT 2015

I knew something along these lines would eventually happen. Gitorious
did have some traction (I think Qt was hosted there) but to be honest, I
always found its interface incredibly clunky and ugly - I'd rather use
SourceForge than Gitorious.

But I really liked the fact that it was AGPLed. I actually dislike
GitLab.com more than I dislike GitHub, Inc.: they have adopted this
backwards "open core" model where they release a proprietary version of
their program (called GitHub EE) along with the MIT version. Using
GitLab.com is as bad as using GitHub.com since you cannot read the
actual source code of either. I'd still rather use it instead of GitHub,

I don't think GitLab is ever going to take over GitHub and if you want
to contribute to Free Software you are going to need a GitHub account in
any case these days, plus GitHub can be fully operated through Free
Software by using git and their "hub" program - the only "proprietary"
thing about this is the JSON API calls made by "hub", but as the FSF
says that's a service rather than software, so it's another matter

Nonetheless, I would love an alternative to GitHub, in fact I think
GitHub is one of the biggest problems in Free Software culture, as it
depicts collaboration as social networking and promotes proprietary
software (GH itself is proprietary and you can host proprietary software
on GitHub [1]) and open source "culture".

But let's take a look at the alternatives (those which support git, as I
myself do not want to go back to CVS and SVN and everyone who supports
Mercurial also supports git):

BerliOS: Good alternative, although it used to run ads and it closed
down a few times. It would also need a redesign, how does one browse a
repo? And the approval process does not scale well.

GitLab: Best solution out there but it still promotes an open
source/proprietary culture, like GitHub does.

Savannah: Would need a total redesign, plus I think that their approval
process does not scale well (but they're the best out there when it
comes to freedom).

SourceForge: Changes owners too often, clunky, has ads.

Now, I'm afraid something like Savannah might never be accepted by the
mainstream, so GitLab remains the best choice if we want to replace GitHub.

In my opinion, a replacement for GitHub should be:

* Completely Free Software
* Modernly designed
* Run by a nonprofit organization
* Ad-free
* Marketed, and heavily
* Supported by some big Free Software project (such as Debian)
* Strict on banning nonfree projects
* Able to import from GitHub by clicking a button (this would make
migrating trivial)
* Without any paid accounts

To achieve this purpose, GitLab CE is already perfect from a practical
perspective, its only faults are ideological. Someone should just fork
it as AGPLv3+, host it on their own servers with their own Terms of
Service and well, get working on finding funds and marketing it, because
that's the hardest part by far.

But I doubt that would kill GitHub anyway. For many people, GitHub is
synonymous with git is synonymous with collaborative development. People
don't ask you "where's the source tarball" or "where's the repo", they
ask you "where's the GitHub?". And if someone releases a program, people
will ask him/her "can you release it on GitHub" or "GitHub link?" or
something along these lines. GitHub has successfully brainwashed the
masses so that they believe that "pull requests" and "forks" would not
exist without them.  Go on a tech site like reddit and see these
pathetic displays of ignorance yourselves. I'm not saying this because
I'm a snob, I'm just tired that a whole culture that has been around for
decades has been attributed to a single, private corporation which
doesn't even give a damn about it and has engaged in censorship several

I'm personally tired of having to use GitHub to contribute to projects I
like, but programmers nowadays either host their projects there or watch
them die so I understand them. That's the power of marketing and I don't
believe a philosophically better alternative would fix what is
fundamentally a problem of consumer society as a whole.


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