Goodbye Github! đź”—

Posted by MĂ©dĂ©ric Ribreux 🗓 In blog/Blog/

#free software

After Github acquisition from Microsoft it took me only minutes to delete my Github account!

I already wanted to do it before but Microsoft acquisition pushed me in the mood to do it as soon as possible.

I mostly used Github platform for QGIS development. All the coding effort is centralized on this platform and it was the most practical way to push code into the project.

Thanks to resistance from lead project developers, QGIS never ported everything of its development platform on GitHub. For years there has been internal pressure to do it. But, at least until now, only code is centralized on GitHub. Issues are still on a Redmine service, owned by QGIS project (or perhaps osgeo). (Note from author: sadly, it is not true anymore in 2020).

Some QGIS developpers tried to push the issues from Redmine into GitHub but they soon faced the limit rate of GitHub API and they never managed to push every bugs into GitHub. I think this step stopped them to use it for any other thing than code.

At first, I did not want to use another account just to particpate to code effort. Nowadays you've got so much accounts for anything. Hey, I even got a dedicated software (password-store) just to handle them all! So one another account, even a useful one, is still too much for 2018. Why don't we have a decentralized and universal authentication system in 2018? Probably because everybody else than me is using Facebook/Google and… GitHub for authentication instead of a real system!

As I have really less free time to contribute to QGIS, I thought I could get rid of my account really quickly: I have finished my job for this project, until I find more free time to contribute.

I am really lucky to have always resisted to push all my git repositories on GitHub. My personal server owns them and I have lots of backups. They are stored behind a private cgit service and I can use it whenever I want. Perhaps one day I'll have to open them to the public. For the moment, they are well kept behind authentication!

By the way, cgit is a real peace of (free) software: fast, light and well designed. You can run it under nearly any computer as it is built in pure C. Compared to GitHub, it just lacks lots of not-git related features like issues/wiki/comments/etc. But for displaying a git repository on a web browser, it is the most efficient.

I have used GitHub for a few years and I can say that it is quite easy to use. But with time, I found it quite boring because, at a moment, you have to use their web interface to do simple things that could be made by git, for example for pull-requests. It was often painful to just open my web browser to push something on the main repository. It is not a so natural workflow when you work with git to stop operations and open another software just to share code.

It was also painful to have to use their web interface to deal with their "notifications": I already have them by mail, why annoying me on the web interface? And I don't mention when you have an heavy commit with lots of modifications, only viewable on a single page by default that will consume all your CPU cores on your 4 years old laptop.

Another thing that I regret with GitHub is the "competition" boring game for developpers: why spend time to make statistics from commits and individual developer into an action reporting calendar? I mean, it is not because you have few green days in your year that you are not working hard on some projects. It can mean you are just using GitHub for storing part of some code. Why displaying this activity other than making developpers using more and more the platform?

Furthermore, I think that GitHub, by storing too much opensource or even free softwares is really frightening: you have only one major provider for free software and it give him too much power. As Microsoft is acquiring them, it is clearly a threatening to free software (yes, even if I have seen what Visual Studio is, I will allways keep my Emacs text editor for ethical purpose).

I do hope that some ingenious developpers will build popular decentralized development platforms on which users and devs have the real power… and not just another VC backed startup which will be absorbed, one day or another, by a big evil giant corporation (look at sourceforge).

From now, I will rely on old and traditional ways to contribute to free software: emails/mailing lists/bug trackers/patches/crappy web interfaces/etc… and I will focus on free softwares that use their own development platform.

As a conclusion: farewell, GitHub!