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Give Up GitHub: The Time Has Come!

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Those who forget history often inadvertently repeat it. Some of us recall that twenty-one years ago, the most popular code hosting site, a fully Free and Open Source (FOSS) site called SourceForge, proprietarized all their code — never to make it FOSS again. Major FOSS projects slowly left SourceForge since it was now, itself, a proprietary system, and antithetical to FOSS. FOSS communities learned that it was a mistake to allow a for-profit, proprietary software company to become the dominant FOSS collaborative development site. SourceForge slowly collapsed after the DotCom crash, and today, SourceForge is more advertising link-bait than it is code hosting. We learned a valuable lesson that was a bit too easy to forget — especially when corporate involvement manipulates FOSS communities to its own ends. We now must learn the SourceForge lesson again with Microsoft's GitHub.

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LWN

  • Software Freedom Conservancy: Give Up GitHub: The Time Has Come!

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has issued a strong call for free software projects to give up GitHub and to move their repositories elsewhere. There are a number of problems that SFC has identified with the GitHub code-hosting service and, in particular, with its Copilot AI-based code-writing tool that was trained on the community's code stored in the company's repositories. Moving away from GitHub will not be easy, SFC said, but it is important to do so lest the free-software community repeat the SourceForge mistake.

Open source body quits GitHub, urges you to do the same

  • Open source body quits GitHub, urges you to do the same

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit focused on free and open source software (FOSS), said it has stopped using Microsoft's GitHub for project hosting – and is urging other software developers to do the same.

    In a blog post on Thursday, Denver Gingerich, SFC FOSS license compliance engineer, and Bradley M. Kuhn, SFC policy fellow, said GitHub has over the past decade come to play a dominant role in FOSS development by building an interface and social features around Git, the widely used open source version control software.

    In so doing, they claim, the company has convinced FOSS developers to contribute to the development of a proprietary service that exploits FOSS.

    "We are ending all our own uses of GitHub, and announcing a long-term plan to assist FOSS projects to migrate away from GitHub," said Gingerich and Kuhn.

a silo can never provide digital autonomy

  • a silo can never provide digital autonomy to its users – Ariadne's Space

    Lately there has been a lot of discussion about various silos and their activities, notably GitHub and an up and coming alternative to Tumblr called Cohost. I’d like to talk about both to make the point that silos do not, and can not elevate user freedoms, by design, even if they are run with the best of intentions, by analyzing the behavior of both of these silos.

    It is said that if you are not paying for a service, that you are the product. To look at this, we will start with GitHub, who have had a significant controversy over the past year with their now-commercial Copilot service. Copilot is a paid service which provides code suggestions using a neural network model that was trained using the entirety of publicly posted source code on GitHub as its corpus. As many have noted, this is likely a problem from a copyright point of view.

    Microsoft claims that this use of the GitHub public source code is ethically correct and legal, citing fair use as their justification for data mining the entire GitHub public source corpus. Interestingly, in the EU, there is a “text and data mining” exception to the copyright directive, which may provide for some precedent for this thinking. While the legal construction they use to justify the way they trained the Copilot model is interesting, it is important to note that we, as consumers of the GitHub service, enabled Microsoft to do this by uploading source code to their service.

    Now let’s talk about Cohost, a recently launched alternative to Tumblr which is paid for by its subscribers, and promises that it will never sell out to a third party. While I think that Cohost will likely be one of the more ethically-run silos out there, it is still a silo, and like Microsoft’s GitHub, it has business interests (subscriber retention) which place it in conflict with the goals of digital autonomy. Specifically, like all silos, Cohost’s platform is designed to keep users inside the Cohost platform, just as GitHub uses the network effect of its own silo to make it difficult to use anything other than GitHub for collaboration on software.

Microsoft Did It Again, SFC Urges Developers to Quit GitHub

  • Microsoft Did It Again, SFC Urges Developers to Quit GitHub

    Microsoft’s new service for automatically writing AI-based code, Copilot, has sparked outrage in the Open Source community.

    “Microsoft loves open source.” So much has been put on this slogan recently, only to change the Open Source community’s perspective toward the Redmond company.

    And while Microsoft was no longer demonized as the worst thing that could happen to the Open Source, certain of the Redmond tech giant’s tactics remained regardless of the times.

    It must be said unequivocally, now and forever, that Microsoft loves open source! However, with one additional qualification: when it can generate a profit from it.

    While this may appear to be perfectly acceptable from a business standpoint, it is quite the opposite regarding moral violations. And Microsoft did it again.

Software Freedom Conservancy Issues Call to Give Up GitHub

  • Software Freedom Conservancy Issues Call to Give Up GitHub

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit organization centered around FOSS rights and copyleft compliance, has issued a statement urging developers to leave GitHub, citing FOSS license infringement and other concerns following GitHub’s release of Copilot as a for-profit tool.

Amazon's CodeWhisperer

  • Amazon's CodeWhisperer

    There has been a fair amount of concern recently about Microsoft's Copilot system, which many see as possibly putting its users in violation of free-software licenses. But, naturally, Copilot is not the only offering of this type; Amazon has put out a preview version of "CodeWhisperer", which is also a machine-learning-based coding tool that was trained on (unspecified) open-source code.

SJVN repeats many false claims from Microsoft in ZDNet

More misconceptions

  • Even robots have the right to learn from open source [Ed: That's not learning, that's plagiarising]

    If the soap opera of Microsoft's relationship with open source had a theme tune, it'd be "The Long and Winding Goad".

    To a company whose entire existence depended on market control, open source's radical freedoms were an existential, cancerous threat. In return, open source was only too happy to play the upstart punk movement to Microsoft's bloated prog rock.

    In the end, both sides accepted the inevitable. Redmond wasn't going to control the cloud and mobile the way it controlled business IT, and the cloud and mobile loved open source. Interoperability was more profitable than insults. For its part, open source was, well, open. It couldn't stop Microsoft's newfound friendliness so wary acceptance became the new world order.

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