This week, I made the difficult decision to move my projects away from GitHub. Over the past three years, I invested a lot of time on the platform, working on personal projects and contributing to open source (OS).
So what gives? Why am I leaving? And where am I going?
Why I am leaving
There are two main reasons why I decided to host my projects elsewhere:
- GitHub is a centralized, proprietary hosting service, which seems like an odd place to be hosting OS projects. This didn’t occur to me when I joined. I simply thought GitHub was the only real place to publish code since all the packages that I admired were hosted there.
- GitHub Copilot and its apparent disregard of FOSS licenses. GitHub trains Copilot on countless OS projects made by developers who freely give their time to develop and maintain these projects, and then packages and sells it back to its users. Regardless of the legality, this did not sit right with me and convinced me to look elsewhere.
Overall, I do not believe that GitHub’s values align with my own. The network effect is also no longer strong enough for me to stay. I hope that by leaving it will at least spark conversations with others.
Where I am going
Past me would have scoffed at the idea of paying, but current me realizes that you pay one way or another. Or as they say, if you are not paying for the product, you are the product. There is, however, an exception to this rule with hosts like Codeberg, a non-profit funded through donations.
Sourcehut is not a non-profit, but rather led by Drew DeVault, a leader in the OS community. He has developed projects like sway and aerc. I found it very satisfying to invest in a git hosting service run by someone who is a major contributor to the open source community.
Overall, I think the decision to pay to host my code on Sourcehut is money well spent. It aligns with my decision last year to switch to the paid search engine, Kagi, instead of using a “free” ad-based search engine. The benefits were immediate; it is amazing how good search results can be when the company is not juggling the incentives of advertisers and shareholders with those of the end user.
So you can imagine my happiness when I read the article Our model is customers first, investors never on Sourcehut’s blog. The company’s business model is clear and, therefore, their incentives are clear. Drew Devault, the neighborhood sysadmin, sums it up nicely:
Since we get all of our income directly from the users, we don’t have to worry about finding other ways to monetize you. To me that seems like a pretty good business model, even if it’s never going to be a ‘unicorn’.