SFC Urges Developers To Leave GitHub

The SFC (Software Freedom Conservancy) has stopped GitHub and urges other developers to follow suit.

SFC is a non-profit organization that aims to provide a home and services to Free, Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects.

On Thursday, the SFC . posted a blog post criticized the dominant role GitHub has played in the development of FOSS.

In the post, Bradley Kuhn, SFC policy officer, and Denver Gingerich, SFC FOSS license compliance engineer, highlighted the dangers of such market dominance.

Kuhn and Gingerich pointed out how SourceForge, the most popular code hosting site twenty-one years ago, owned all of its code.

Major FOSS projects left SourceForge because it was now its own system and contradictory to FOSS.

“FOSS communities learned that it was a mistake to allow a proprietary, for-profit software company to become the dominant FOSS collaborative development site,” Kuhn and Gingerich wrote.

“GitHub succeeded where SourceForge failed: they convinced us to promote a proprietary system and even help create a proprietary system that exploits FOSS.”

Git was designed as a technology to enable the development of distributed software. GitHub has built social and interaction features around it. SFC claims that GitHub is now exploiting FOSS and profiting from the creation of its own products.

“We at Software Freedom Conservancy have been part of the problem ourselves; until recently, even we had become too comfortable, complacent and complicit in GitHub.

Giving up GitHub requires work, sacrifice, and can take a long time.”

The last straw for the SFC seems to have been round GitHub copilot.

Copilot turns natural language prompts into coding suggestions in dozens of languages. After six months of GitHub refusing to answer questions about the moral implications of AI-powered software, Kuhn published an essay on the topic to raise them publicly.

Three weeks later, the SFC launched an expert committee and parallel public discussion. GitHub reportedly ignored an invitation to join.

After a reminder sent last week about the unanswered questions and refusal to participate in public discussions, GitHub replied that they will not participate in public or private discussions because “a wider conversation [about the ethics of AI-assisted software] seemed unlikely to your [SFC’s] position, that’s why we have [GitHub] did not respond to your [SFC’s] detailed questions.”

SFC had already asked its member projects and community members to avoid GitHub. Now it goes further and will help all FOSS projects to migrate away from the Microsoft platform.

SFC has launched a website, GiveUpGitHub.orgwhere it provides tips, ideas, methods, tools, and support to those who want to leave GitHub.

(Photo by DDP On Unsplash)

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Tags: copilot, floss, foss, git, github, open source, sfc, software Freedom Conservancy

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