Why SourceForge should not die today

With the recent downtime of SourceForge we can read comment like:

  • Sourceforge should die
  • Someone still use sourceforge?
  • Sourceforge is a place with only malware
  • All active projects are already on Github
  • Nobody will notice if Sourceforge disapear

It’s wrong. If sourceforge disapear the transition will be annoying.

Sourceforge exist since a long time and even if we don’t know a lot of project still use it especially for the download mirror service. Some are actively maintain and can move, but some are abandoned and will be lost forever even if they still have users.

You disagree with me?

Take a look on where Homebrew formula download their source code or patches.

  • We have 3157 formula
  • 527 formulas use downloads.sourceforge.net (grep ".*url.*downloads.sourceforge.net" * | cut -d":" -f1|sort|uniq|wc -l)
  • 888 use Github (grep ".*url.*https://github.com/" * | cut -d":" -f1|sort|uniq|wc -l)
  • 113 for google code (grep ".*url.*googlecode.com" * | cut -d":" -f1|sort|uniq|wc -l)

Even if it’s not the majority we can’t say we can just ignore it.

But it’s only dead and unused project.

If we have a quick look on the list of this minor/dead project. We can found some pretty common software:

  • avidemux
  • boost
  • clamav
  • gnuplot
  • lame
  • netcat
  • pngcrush
  • proguard
  • privoxy
  • pwgen
  • swig
  • w3m
  • wxpython
  • zsh

And homebrew contain only project working on OSX and where someone has taken the time to package it.

We can survive to a lost of sourceforge website for the downloads, thanks to large number a sourceforge mirror. But for source repository, mailling list archive all of this can be lost. If SourceForge die for financial issues a risk exists that the investors will try to sell this archives instead of transferring for free to a foundation like Apache or Mozilla.

Also if tomorrow sourceforge die, how can you be sure that the github repository of a sourceforge project is made by the same team?

We need to prepare a smooth transition from Sourceforge. Why the parent compagnie of Sourceforge should continue to put money on a dying website? They are a for profit organization. In my mind the best solution is transfering a read only version to a non profit organisation. And because the same issue could happen with GitHub we need to work to decentralize free software hosting. It’s critical for the Free Software world, but also for all compagnies using this technologies.

Photo: Mark Lobo Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0