Posted 23 Oct 2001 at 01:20 UTC by advogato
The financial situation for VA Linux looks bleak. Those of us who
depend on SourceForge for development are, or should be, getting
worried. Already, one
of the core services provided by SourceForge has fallen into "no
longer being maintained". It seems prudent to develop back-up plans.
Of course, it's possible that SourceForge will continue to function
smoothly. It wouldn't be at all unexpected for a company with a large
stake in open source to take it over. However, many of the dot-com
closings have been abrupt, taking even employees by
surprise. Ghostscript, for example, simply cannot afford this
Free software is robust and decentralized enough that I doubt the
closing of SourceForge will have much long-term impact. If nothing
else, it will result in a much needed "garbage collection" of hopeless
projects. All projects worth their salt will find a new home without
GNU Projects will probably find themselves right at home on Savannah. This system is more or
less a clone of SourceForge, though it is lacking such essential
features as a bug tracking system. It looks
like the team is considering reworking much of the code. We wish them
well. As an aside, the comments about the "unmaintainable state of the
SourceForge code" do not help to inspire much confidence in VA Linux.
The Ghostscript project has decided to host itself. They've put a new
machine into colo, and are bringing up CVS, bugzilla, and the usual
services. We've been wanting to migrate to bugzilla for some time
because of the shortcomings of the SourceForge bug tracker (again with
the confidence). There are other excuses, including a dedicated
regression server, the ability to archive test files (not all of which
can be made publicly available), and better responsiveness for the ghostscript.com website, which
is currently on a DSL line.
One issue is migrating the services from SourceForge. CVS shouldn't
be too big a problem, because SourceForge makes nightly CVS tarballs
available. However, they do not provide access to the bug
tracker database. This is quite important.
One possible solution to migrating the bug database is to use a web
crawling script. There's alreadyone
written (used for making backups), but it doesn't do any of the
work of parsing the HTML or converting it to a format bugzilla can
understand. The Ghostscripters would be happy to work with others
trying to do the same thing. It would be even better if the
SourceForge team would make the bug database available.
Could the SourceForge people help with this? They're certainly in
the best position to ease migration, and it would be greatly
SourceForge has been an incredibly valuable resource over its
lifetime. It would be quite a shame to see it go, and this cat
sincerely hopes they find a way to stay afloat in these turbulent
seas. That said, it's never a good idea to be vulnerable to the
failure of one server, or one company. It's also not the free software
way. The need to keep good backups is as strong as it ever was.
What plans does your project have for dealing with the contingency of
SourceForge's demise? What kinds of plans are reasonable for doing
backups and preparing for a migration, either planned or forced? Your
comments are welcome.
But I do miss pipermail.
I always hated the interface on geocrawler. It was great to have all that disk space for archives, and way too painful to use.
Fortunately, mailman archives were also available and we used those for Utah-GLX and other projects I was involved with. The mailman interface is much more convenient for browsing (though you couldn't search; we had to implement that ourselves) and speaking of migration, the accumulated posts are available for download right there on the archive page.
But last December those stopped working. Perhaps it's part of the same problem though. The earliest bug report I found on the issue is resolved "won't fix" in favor of Geocrawler. :)
I guess I'm just venting. But I've always been concerned about Sourceforge's willingness to play nice with the rest of the community. I'd like to add to the call for more backup tools like the cvs repository tarballs.
I was distressed to hear that SourceForge was going to start using
proprietary software on the portal upon which they host free projects -
it seems unnecessary. Having a public project, or more than one, to
fulfill the function of SourceForge would be desirable.
HP has just
donated two hosts to FSF. I wonder if they are being used for this
project? I'd be inclined to get the folks at HP to continue to support
this sort of work.
Savannah, posted 23 Oct 2001 at 09:38 UTC by jonas »
Loic or someone on the Savannah team will likely step up to say something about this soon, but I thought that in the mean time I would mention that Savannah is not only for projects that are part of the GNU Project, but indeed for any Free Software.
Let me also say that Savannah is one of the best things since sliced bread in some aspects. In the past few months that the Savannah hackers has worked on the software and installation, it has grown from becoming just another hosting service to being an integrated part of the GNU Project, while still providing services for non-GNU projects.
For the GNU Project, it is not just a hosting service but a framework for many of our operations.
You can get an XML export of the tracker data. This is a hidden
feature and you'd better use it before it's removed. I'm not aware
of any way to export mailing list archives and user lists which is a big
annoyance given the fact that geocrawler is unmaintained.
export (add ?group_id=xxx&atid=xxxx).
Unpolite Behavior, posted 23 Oct 2001 at 13:10 UTC by khazad »
The sourceforge site
status page says nothing about the Geocrawler outtage (as of Oct 23,
While I know that VA's economic shape is bad for some time now (first
they sell hardware, then open sourceforge to promote the hardware they
sell, then they stop selling hardware) and Jacob Moorman is way
overloaded with support work, I'd like to get a notice that information
is going to be lost with some time to either mirror the service that has
gone out or at least cache the lost info on my home box for future usage.
I hope they at least have some ethics before shutting down other
services. If they purge the trackers, VA can expect pounds of email
hosing them. If they purge the CVS repositories without previous notice,
I wouldn't be surprised if VA's employees started to get hunted down and
Now things are looking
dark somewhere else too. What next ? We're gonna live
out ot kuro5hin ? *scream*
It's unfortunate, but dotcom problems can appear so quickly that
employees who would otherwise make notifications may no longer be in a
position to do so. The responsible parties might be shifted to another
department and no longer involved with the project in question. They
might even be out on the street. Be as sympathetic as you can; it's
difficult to make the transition from community participant to layoff
Projects die and projects are shuffled around. For-profit corporations
lose their funding or are forced to re-evaluate their priorities. So
do non-profit corporations. So do individuals. Don't fall in love
with a single project hosting service, VA's, FSF's or anyone else's.
The world is too unstable a place to depend on a single venue. The
safety of redundancy is essential. So is a willingness to provide your
participants an easy exit path.
Who else is working on project hosting? This would be a good time to
mention your efforts.
Heh. I moved my projects to sourceforge less than six month ago, and I
think it would be a pain to move them again. And for now, sourceforge
still seems to work fine - including geocrawler.
Obviously you *do* want to keep backups though. Every night I'm backing
up the full contents of my projects web pages and cvs repositories. and
I'm even thinking about setting these backups online on other hosting
sites like savannah.
The $64K question though, is how can I keep mailing lists archives AND
lists of all subscribers. I dont have that right now, and it sucks.
I'm also interested in learning how to synchronize two cvs servers (have
one of them mirror the other). Obviously I could get the cvs backups and
import these on the mirror server but I dont think savannah supports
Heed the warning, posted 23 Oct 2001 at 21:15 UTC by Qbert »
is right. OpenAvenue did just what he is
fearing: It literally disappeared overnight, and a lot of projects
simply lost code. I would expect VA Linux to be more clueful and
considerate, given its history of relating to the community, but the
refusal to talk about Geocrawler (or, indeed, to admit that the company
is in financial straits at all) is troubling.
Back up your projects while you can.
My name is Patrick McGovern and I manage SourceForge.net.
I wanted to take a few moments to reply to some of the comments in this
I think there is quite a bit of confusion.
SourceForge.net is not going away. VA is not going away. The
company as well as the technology sector is having a hard time right
now, but the company has the money and resources to be around for the
SourceForge.net is growing. The number of projects, users and pageviews
continue to grow. The site is getting additional resources (not less)
to be successful. We recently added 70 servers. We've added systems
to the compile farm. We are adding to the number of download servers.
We are hiring. I need talented folks to work on the site. If you are
a skilled DBA send me your resume. (pat at sourceforge.net)
If you do have concerns, by all means back up your code. I think it's
a prudent thing to do anyway. The SourceForge.net team creates
tarballs every night that are downloadable.....you can download a copy
of your code anytime you want.
Why is VA no longer actively maintaining Geocrawler? The answer is
simple, we are creating a replacement that will be available in the next
10 days. It will be integrated directly with SourceForge.net (for
sourceforge.net mailing lists) to make searching and archiving easier
for the User. We are not spending less resources, as some have
suggested, but more to make the experience better for the Open Source
If you have any questions about this, please feel free to email me at
pat @ sourceforge.net
It's nice to know you're listening, and that the rumors were largely
unfounded. I really like the services you have on sourceforge and its
great to know we can count on still having these in the future.
I'm still doing my backups/mirrors anyways :) because I think that cant
hurt. And I'll still be lookingfor a mailing list backup solution too...
I have talked with Pat about this in the recent past and its still a
concern. I know that VA believes that they are going to stay in business
and I hope and pray that they do. However, as phpGroupWare has grown I
am more and more concerned and feel a responsibility to my project to
make sure the code, bug tracking, etc... is in a safe place. This
http://sourceforge.net/export/sf_tracker_export.php looks great, but
doesnt work very well.
If I knew I could get a backup of my tracker records, my developer list
and permissions, and all other such data on a regular basis then I would
feel ALOT ALOT better. I would know that I could take regular backups to
my own machine and if worse came true and sf.net was closed I would be
able to resurect my project details in short time.
Hopefully, whatever improvements ghostscript creates in bug tracking,
project management, etc, can be shared with GNU's project hosting
site. Ghostscript's contributions can probably save the GNU site
hackers a lot of work.
Anyone who is building software engineering tools is welcome to host
their project on tigris.org. It is a small, focused
community where all the other projects and developers are also focused
on software engineering tools. Also, I work with potential project
leads to get their project launched on the right foot. One recent
project that has recently switched from sourceforge.net to tigris.org
is binarycloud. Other popular
projects on tigris include Subversion
(a new version control system), Scarab (a new issue tracking
system), and ArgoUML (an open
source UML tool).
On the tigris.org home page, there is also a list of some other focused
communities on various topics. These sites are sponsored by various
companies that have a real interest in and commitment to the success of
The examples that we have looked at in building these communities are
the big, successful open source projects: apache, mozilla, gnome, kde,
etc. Each of these is a focused community with a lot of overlap among
the interests of community members and a sense of stability.
Berlios, posted 25 Oct 2001 at 12:11 UTC by tjansen »
Just wanted to mention that there is another Sourceforge-Clone: Berlios. It uses the
Sourceforge Software and currently hosts 167 projects. Berlios is a
project of GMD Fokus, a german
research institute, and supported/funded by a number of companies and
the german ministry of economics and technology.
I have several things to say that are all unrelated...
First off, the idea of a garbage collection kind of disgusts me. I
agree that there are tons of things in freshmeat's database and on
sourceforge that are dead or unsupported or flat out trash (I suspect
that there were a lot of "greps implemented in perl" that were produced
when Redhat and others opened IPOs to the community)but a big part of
the whole open source thing is that I can look at what bits and pieces
there are and make a decision on whether or not they do anything for me.
I can list at least 6 projects off the top of my head that are dead and
that I've gained from, either by seeing their mistakes or because the
few things they did were useful to me. Usually the hardest part is
getting started. I think having the full repository is a good thing.
I was also one of the people who didn't like the idea of source forge
initially. 2 reasons, a) I didn't think VA was going to last in the PC
business, not against Dell, Compaq and HP. b) With one company owning
sourceforge, VA, slashdot, freshmeat. OSDN, and other big opensource
platforms it has the potential to create politics and bias in the
community. So far I have been wrong. I'm still not really fond of
centralizing everything and I think that to some degree it degrades the
value of their freshmeat business (before sourceforge, freshmeat was
more useful) but I hope they keep doing well and as suggested, I would
back up everything you've got on there simply because that's a good
idea. Perhaps sourceforge could also make available a set of backups or
something for a fee. I'd be willing to buy a set of DVD for $100 or
something that contain all of sourceforge. I'm not sure how practical
that is, maybe a snapshot twice a year could be made. I'm sure people
would want this and it would provide a sense of protection should VA
decide to pull the plug.
SCM.. To end my ramble. I bought a VA linux rack mount a while back and
it has been a fabulous machine. 2 weeks ago they called me to sell
their professional services and to sell me a custom sourceforge
installation for my development needs. This is something my company has
struggled with for 18+ months now. The OSS world is great for so many
things except SCM. CVS is wonderful but it doesn't have issue tracking.
Bugzilla is great but it isn't connected to the source code.
Sourceforge is close to what you'd need to do professional team oriented
software development with OSS but it's not there yet. I ended up
writing a python script frontend to cvs to integrate it in to bugzilla
some. I think sourceforge has a huge potential for this, regardless of
the financial situation, if they could provide a complete end-to-end
solution for the SCM problems to the community, I know that there are
companies that would pay them to customize it and install it for them.
I'd think you could make a business from that alone.
I think the real solution to dependency on a hosting provider is to
devise a metadata format which can summarise background information
about the project (as seen on sites such as freshmeat) as well as
information about the hosting facilities used and the developers
involved. In my usual style, I'll call this a project-hosting file.
Tools could then be developed to maintain project-hosting files in a
nice, easy-to-use way and then use this when setting your project up
with hosting providers (if they have a project-hosting-friendly setup
service). Basically, there need to be conversion tools to sync between
project-hosting files and mailing list config, CVSROOT files, webserver
and DNS configs... and probably many more. Most of these will merely do
conversion to a format useful for a particular service, but then even if
they're not a project-hosting-friendly provider, you can still keep that
service up to date with it, hopefully.
My personal aim here, of course, is to distribute a single project
across many different hosting providers, to be able to make maximum use
of donated services, etc, rather than having a few monolithic
"sourceforges" as we do currently. What I'm missing is the time to
develop this. My first thoughts are to use XML, guile and gtk to make
the tools, but that's just personal preference and I really don't have
time to spend on this right now.
I'm more than happy to discuss this with people and I'd *love* it if
someone could run with this idea and realise my dream. I think it would
be a useful thing for the community to have. The key thing is for it to
be able to extend to take in new services which we don't use today.
Anyone up for a challenge?
I think the place to discuss this is probably the coopx list --
please come and join!
I believe that the existence of SourceForge is a major reason why Gimp-Print is as successful
as it is. I don't have my own hosting facilities handy, and like most
administration-intensive things, it has substantial economies of scale.
Not only that, but it provides an easy way for people to join the team.
I certainly take a CVS snapshot every night, and I keep 4 backup copies
of it. I've been doing this since very early on; the CVS repository is
the lifeblood of the project. However, for a non-commercial project
there aren't a lot of choices. If Sourceforge were to go under we'd
probably have to move to savannah (not that I'd object to it per se, but
we need somewhere, and moving a project is a huge pain).
, I agree with much of what you say, but I don't
understand the title of your reply. The community is not owned by any
one site and the concentration of facilities is a relatively recent
phenomenon. I don't see why distributed hosting would mean a fragmented
community any more than it did in the old days. If there was more
co-operation and information interchange between sourceforge and the
other hosting providers, surely it would stop the fragmentation we've
seen so far? I mean, at the moment, if I post for help on savannah,
people looking at the sourceforge "help wanted" page don't see my
project. Having data move between them would be a win for everyone.
Tjansen mentioned BerliOS as a sourceforge clone.
BerliOS' setup has a couple of weaknesses which you should be aware of
moving there. (I also pointed them out to the BerliOS people so they know
- GMD Fokus running BerliOS
was forced to merge into the Frauenhofer Gesellschaft.
Frauenhofer is known to be very friendly to software patents
and known to create proprietory solutions.
The maintainers of BerliOS probably do not agree to all this,
but they did not publically made a public statement on BerliOS
relation and possible conflict in interest.
- BerliOS aims at bigger sponsors, they are not explaining the
History of Free Software in a balanced way. In particular they
are hiding the GNU-project a bit and that it is about freedom.
- The business plan of BerliOS is not known.
To just go to a development site which offers service gratis for your
project might not be enough to secure your freedom in the mid term, you
have to choose carefully.
SunSITE.dk, posted 28 Oct 2001 at 08:39 UTC by goingware »
I have LinuxQuality hosted
at SunSITE.dk, after I requested a host
on the linux-kernel list and they responded with a kind offer.
One very nice advantage of SunSITE.dk is that they have database
facilities. They created a MySQL database for LinuxQuality, and told me
they would be experimenting with PostgreSQL. I'm not sure if they
actually have made PostgreSQL available yet.
It is a volunteer run facility that last year decided they would devote
to the promotion of open source.
They're also a bunch of really nice people.
We, at ibiblio (aka metalab aka
sunsite) are always happy to host open source projects. We've been
at it for a while ;-> and we do offer most of the services as
sourceforge and sunsite.dk including mySQL.
We're not down on SourceForge though. In fact, we are one of the
official sourceforge ftp sites and are glad that they support the
My Run at OSDN has been very good actually, I built a great network, that pretty much runs itself at this point, and then got sick, I was
offered voluntary severance, and I was thinking I want to do so much more now anyway, getting more into code than network engineering
and systems admin anyway. I'm looking at moving to MD, the revolution is over, I've made a decent mark on it :)
OSDN generally has had a rough history, when VA took over Andover, things were looking pretty good, but the formula was changed.
There was nothing wrong with how Andover was working, however there was a culture clash internally between VA and Andover, Andover
was originally a software company, then it was a media company, VA was a hardware company. VA now looks like its becoming a
software company. Sourceforge itself needs a lot of work, it has since I became involved, it was kinda clunky, had only two people
working on it, and had to manage a very complicated environment that grew organically, rather than planned. By the time VA decided to
focus on it, it was a mess, the admins on the west coast and coders did a wonderful job of making it work and keeping it running.
While as of this week, I am no longer involved with VA in anything but a writing capacity (I'm contracted to write several articles over the
next year for OSDN sites), I have nothing but good to say about the people there, and jumping ship will not help VA stay running.
Bruce Perens and I disagree with each other here:
There is *nothing* wrong with serving the Open Source community by using proprietary software, many OSS companies have sold
proprietary software along side GPL'd software for "value added", the spirit of the BSD license says that you can make changes and sell
that code too, I think businesswise, the GPL made little sense to rally around, and VA and RedHat tend to prove this, its amazing that
with the excesses at the beginnings, that any of us are still around. Why are we? One answer: Talent.
The people involved with Open Soruce have been extremely talented if excesssive people. I am honored to have worked with you all.
Berlios is ok, posted 3 Nov 2001 at 11:16 UTC by mvw »
One of the minds behind Berlios is Jörg Schily, author of cdrecord and
maintainer of cdda2wav. He is an open source hacker since long and I
have no doubt about his attitude.