Projects Abandon SourceForge
Written by Mike James   
Monday, 15 June 2015

SourceForge used to occupy the space in developers' hearts that is now mostly occupied by GitHub. It was somewhere you could host an open source project and allow users to download finished binaries. It now looks as if the download option is becoming its downfall.


In the past SourceForge did a reasonable job of providing a home for open source project using the version manager of the same name. The site was owned by Geeknet, the same people who owned Slashdot, but then, along with Slashdot and other assets,  it was taken over by Dice Holdings,. This seems to be where things started going wrong.




Once Dice stepped in, the site seemed to be earning money by display ads and by sponsored, i.e. paid for, download links placed next to open source downloads. The problem was that much of the software being offered was of low quality and the download links were easy to confuse with the real thing. Next third party software started to appear within the Windows installer for open source software. This was all too much for the well known photo editing software project GIMP and it left SourceForge in 2013. The well known video player VLC left soon after for similar reasons. 

This was all explained by the site claiming that it was just a way to help fund open source projects by profit-sharing and projects could opt out if they didn't want to join in. 

Things got worse in May of this year when the old GIMP project on SourceForge was taken over by a staff member and the binaries for Windows were on offer again - complete with third party software. The same thing happened to VLC, but this time without the third-party software, probably because the binaries were signed. The same happened to the Nmap security tool. The argument used by SourceForge was that the projects had been abandoned and therefore no permission was needed to take over the projects. 

The most recent development is that the well known Notepad++ project has left SourceForge in favor of GitHub, citing the treatment of GIMP and VLC and the serving of "crapware" within download pages. It has also been reported that the WINE project is planning to move from SourceForge. 

It looks like a general exodus from SourceForge might well be underway due to the self-inflicted damage to its reputation. Despite trying to put things right, SourceForge seems to have lost the trust of the big projects and without it why should smaller projects trust it? However, SourceForge is one of the few project-hosting sites that supports binary downloads and so for smaller projects it still might have some attraction. 

SourceForge's downfall seems to be inevitable and it highlights a problem that many "free" websites have - how to make some money.

Clearly hijacking project sites and adding crapware to open source installers is not acceptable, but somehow SourceForge thought it would be seen as some sort of service to the community, or just not be noticed.


More Information

Anatomy of SourceForge/GIMP controversy

Notepad++ leaves SourceForge

What happened to Sourceforge?

Related Articles

GitHub Introduces Licenses API

Google Code Shuts 

Google Code Bans Downloads


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Last Updated ( Monday, 15 June 2015 )