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Why is Free Software Being Hosted on Github???

Free software being hosted on Github as its main repository is a downright embarrassment to the very principles free software is supposed to stand for. Github is a proprietary platform. Important site features can't work without proprietary Javascript running in the browser. The backend code for Github is completely proprietary. And it's owned by Micro$oft, one of the largest megacorps to ever exist whose CEO once called GNU/Linux a "cancer" and only changed his tune when he realized there was money to be made.


You can see more criticism of Github here:

Tom Ryder's Blog


As a user of software and someone that occasionally writes software, I have a lot more respect for your project if it's not hosted on Github. There are so many other code hosting platforms out there! There's Gitlab, Gitea, Gogs, Cgit and Gitweb. Hell, you don't even need a code hosting repository! If you can't self-host and don't want to trust third-party platforms, just use Git's git-format-patch command and submit changes by email.


Having a single large megacorp whose primary business model is diametrically opposed to free software being the largest code host for free software is almost too dumb. Micro$oft is the worst possible entity to entrust to run the platform where you manage development of your free software projects. If you're using Github to host your code, migrate elsewhere immediately.


Other Code Repositories

If you choose to migrate to Gitlab.com, that's still pretty centralized since it's one of the largest code hosting platforms. But at least Gitlab doesn't require non-free Javascript, its backend is fully free and it's not owned by Micro$oft. Also, self-hosting is very easy if you have the resources. I recommend reading the GNU repo criteria evaluation page before you make your choice where to migrate:

https://www.gnu.org/software/repo-criteria-evaluation.html


Harm Reduction

I can't recommend Github since it requires non-free Javascript, but if you're going to use it anyway, don't use it for project management. At the most, use it as a backup to mirror your code hosted on a different, ethical repository. But don't rely on it otherwise. It's the last place you should trust with your code.


Take Action!

I really hope you don't just agree with me and go on using Github anyway. Please don't do that. Take action! Even if you've been managing your repository on Github and you have dozens of issues and pull requests, making the transition will be worth the effort. It shows your commitment to software freedom and says to the other developers "Github is not an acceptable place for a free software project". For most of you reading this, the process of migrating all your code won't take more than an hour. Just pick a different, freedom-respecting platform to host your code and go get it done!



Unless otherwise noted, the writing found in this journal is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

© 2019-2021 Nicholas Johnson