Friday, June 19, 2015

Open Source Distribution, Where Did it Go Wrong?

I have not been a Windows user for many years in my home. There are exceptions in places like where I work, where I go to school and even the local libraries. For the most part, I keep a clean and very secure laptop running Linux with me to use at these places.

The reports of SourceForge providing adware and other bad things to Windows users for the sake of making money isn't exactly new news. However, it is a huge black eye to the open source community in general.

Projects like FileZilla, The GIMP, VLC and nmap have been hit with the baddie installers coming from SourceForge, which the company deemed the projects as abandoned. I can understand SourceForge's need for money to sustain their business platform, but the way they are going about doing it not only tarnishes the individual projects, but also makes Windows users have a bad first impression of open source by getting and running the bad installers from SourceForge.

SourceForge has posted a series of blog posts (all which uBlock will show the screen the I added above in this post) that try to sweet talk you into believing they are doing a good thing. Here are some of those blog posts:

Over time, a good portion of projects have moved to Google Code, GitHub, GitLab and so on. What most people don't understand is that all of these sites are businesses or projects themselves that are backed by some kind of venture capitalists that expect some kind of monetary gain to recoup their funds and make some money in the process.

We have found in recent months that even huge companies like Google can't maintain a truly free code distribution platform like their Google Code service, hence why they are shutting it down in the near future. These big named hosting platforms need some way to maintain a revenue stream to support the hardware, bandwidth and management of the various projects they host. I am in no way validating the practice that SourceForge has decided to do.

The best way, and not always economically sound, is for the projects to host their own distribution servers that they control themselves. This would keep big businesses from taking over their projects and keeping everything safe for the developers and end users alike.

Do you run an open source project? Do you host it on SourceForge, GitHub or any other big name distribution platform? Do you make an open source distribution platform that others can use for their projects? I would like to hear your opinions. Please comment below.