The FSF Europe recommends: avoid SourceForge

MJ Ray markj at
Wed Nov 14 12:14:24 UTC 2001

> We do ask for copyright assignments for single projects because this
> enables us to defend Free Software and keep it maintainable even if
> the original author is nowhere to be found, but at the same time we
> make it clear that these assignments will not be abused to further
> proprietary software.

Sorry, the catch-all nature of the sourceforge one had passed me by too, for
some reason.

Does the FSF have something similar to the Debian Social Contract?

>  mr> If this request is unacceptable, why not create an alternative,
>  mr> rather than publishing a criticism of sourceforge?
> This is what we did with savannah.

But Savannah is another island based on the sourceforge code.  It is a
clone, not an alternative and looks poor when compared to the original.

> But besides working on providing new alternatives, we also criticise
> behaviour that is prone to take away the freedom we have earned
> ourselves in the past couple of years.

Please, if you must criticise, do it as part of promotion of alternatives,
not promote alternatives as part of a criticism.

>  mr> Don't you think that rather a lot of bad feeling towards FSFE has
>  mr> been created by this publication?
> Possible.
> But this is not the question that should govern our actions. Instead
> of asking ourselves "will people like us if we say something" we will
> ask ourselves "is it necessary to say this?"

If you cannot carry developers with you, what is the point?  If the
movement's leaders have no followers, is it truly a movement?

>  mr> Yes, Patrick seems to be a pragmatist and ignores all
>  mr> philosophical/ ideological questions.  (Some of you know that I
>  mr> view pragmatists as extremely dangerous.)
> This is not an issue of pragmatism although Mr McGovern would like to
> make you believe it was.

Sorry, perhaps I have not been clear in this forum, although I thought I
posted something like this here before: pragmatist is my description of the
people who will use whatever means to get their jobs done, including selling
their freedoms.  Usually, today's users of the term "open source" are
pragmatists.  My other labels are realists and fundamentalists.  As an
organisation, I think that the FSF is a realist, although it contains some

>  >> In this case we realized that the legal base and future plans of
>  >> SourceForge had become so unclear that we could only recommend to
>  >> use alternative services.
>  mr> What alternatives?
> Even if alternatives like savannah,, and
> others do not offer quite the same functionality that SourceForge
> offers, they are usable and exist.

They are all mere clones of a broken model.  In reality, a project needs to
have information about it spread between many sites in order to be most
efficient, but few of the current sites appear to be participating in making
that happen, at least not publicly.  They seem content to try to do a
sourceforge-style landgrab instead of working for the good of the community.

>  mr> I ask again: will FSFE support, even if only by name and deeds, a
>  mr> project like CoopX?  I believe it offers the best hope for a
>  mr> smooth transition from the current reality of sourceforge-based
>  mr> sites to the next generation of hosting services.
> CoopX does indeed look like a very useful project. I believe that is
> why the GNU Project is one of the protagonists working on it. In fact
> I believe it may be possible that Loic is already involved in it (I'd
> have to search through my archives to make sure).

If Loic is involved, he appears to be very quiet right now.  The only active
participants at the moment are from and, who are both
good, but hosting provider participation is essential.

The Savannah NG document is a positive move on many of the objectives, but
it has been developed in splendid isolation, as far as I can see.  Please,
ask GNU to bring it to the table and help do the groundwork of the XML
schema first.  It is a "priority 0" item there, after all.

[OT: I'm bemused by the claim that the SNG doc "is in the public domain".  I
thought Loic was French and that they have no legal concept of public
domain publication?]

> What kind of help beyond this do you want or need?

I think it would be rather more useful to recommend tools developed by CoopX
participants rather than just savannah.  If there is anything FSFE can do to 
help beyond mentioning it in future press excursions, please feel free to
approach them.

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