#sourceforge – the beginning of the end?

I’ve had problems looking at Sourceforge projects. There were some sit-related problems earlier this month, but they had ostenbily been cleared up. The problems seem to have arisen again, though. The official problem has been stated on Jul 17:

#SourceForge is down due to a storage platform bug, we’re working 24×7 on recovery & data validation to restore services! Slashdot restored.

I suspect that this is not the whole story, though. Why so?

On May 27, 2015, Sourceforge issued a statement (http://is.gd/Bsi6Zu) regarding kickback from users about the GIMP-Win project:

“GIMP-Win project wasn’t hijacked, just abandoned” … In cases where a project is no longer actively being maintained, SourceForge has in some cases established a mirror of releases that are hosted elsewhere.  This was done for GIMP-Win.

That seems innocuous enough, until you read some of responses to the article:

By hosting it anyway wrapped with sleazeware, you cross a line and become just one of those sites that re-host files wrapped with sleaze. You’re playing a dangerous game, and you’ve made a mistake. So you must remove this project now, or deactivate the sleazeware, and then we can talk about how to keep mistakes like this from happening in the future.

So, the gist of this is:

  • the GIMP developers decided to choose another host for their project
  • they abandoned Sourceforge as host
  • Sourceforge maintained a mirror with the new site, at their own discretion, but bundled adware services in their own installers
  • the GIMP developers expressed their displeasure at this practise, and requested that Sourceforge remove GIMP from their site
  • Sourceforge refused, and locked the original developers from the project.

So Sourceforge has been charged with acting unethically – a view that I agree with.

We now get to those mysterious recurring outages at Sourceforge, and why I am speculating that this is tied up with the GIMP fiasco.

To see why this is a feasible hypothesis, we need to turn to an article on Reddit (http://is.gd/FLLGQ1):

“Don’t like what’s happening with Sourceforge? Petition their mirrors to stop providing them service.”

The deal here is that Sourceforge is not the sole hoster of its files. It requires mirroring host sites to cope with the bandwidth. The mirroring sites are usually open-source friendly sites that generally provide the mirroring as a public service, as far as I know.

It appears that they are now receiving signnificant volumes of requests from ordinary users to stop their mirroring. As you can see from the Reddit article, there have been many mirroring services that have capitulated to the request, or at least stated that they would re-evaluate their position.

Think about it. Why would a server mirror Sourceforge when all it does is create admin work for themselves, at no benefit to themselves, with significant kickback from the public? Answer: none that I can think of.

I see that Kent still seems to be up-and-running. This is likely to be a significant mirror, and it would be good for the Sourceforge protesters if it was taken offline.

This likely explains Sourceforge’s technical problems. It now has to take up the slack from the mirrors that have been taken offline. This has proven to be too big a problem, at least so far.

So Sourceforge is facing user hostility, uncooperative mirrors, and overburdened infrastructure. Any resources that they do pour into it could amount to pouring resources into a losing proposition. Hence the title of my post: “the beginning of the end?”

Update 21-Jul-2015:

  • A Reddit article suggests that Sourceforge is down due to storage problems (rather than mirroring problems), and details why the problems might be sudden, and ongoing, suggesting that they have a basic infrastructure problem
  • A TechRepublic article from 24-Jun-2015 has more depth into the malware issue (“It’s time to go away, Sourceforge. That once king of app hosting, Sourceforge, has lost its crown and its way. Jack Wallen discusses why Sourceforge is now Scourgeforge. “)
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About mcturra2000

Computer programmer living in Scotland.
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