elementary OS says goodbye to SourceForge
elementary OS is a well known desktop Linux distribution. Previously elementary OS had used SourceForge for its download hosting, but now the developers have politely announced that they are leaving SourceForge.
Danrabbit posted the announcement on the elementary OS blog:
Sourceforge has helped us serve millions of downloads at no charge and provided us with great analytics, but our time with them has come to a close.
The recent news of adware being bundled with Windows installers of popular open source apps was unfortunate to hear. Nobody likes it when financial incentives supersede the user experience of a product or service that is doing great things, but the reality is that we’ve been part of the problem here. We haven’t paid Sourceforge a dime for the petabytes of bandwidth that we’ve consumed over the years. We’re the teenager that rages against their parents, screaming “no fair” while freeloading. Finally, we’ve woken up and decided to put on the grown-up pants.
Our web team has been working hard over the last couple of days on “moving out”. We’ve looked at our budget, done our homework, and found a new hosting solution. As of now, we’ll be serving our own downloads from 6 localized servers: 1 in Asia, 3 in Europe, and another 2 in North America. That’s one at all of the locations currently offered by our host!
Our shiny new servers reside at Digital Ocean, who were kind enough to grandfather Lewis’ account and give us the a-okay to use a few terabytes of bandwidth every month (Thanks guys!). The new systems run with SSL at an “A-” standard, but for browsers that don’t support it you can still download over HTTP. We also run Transmission on the very same servers for improved torrenting speeds. You’ll now be able to download elementary OS directly from us, ad free.
The news about elementary OS abandoning SourceForge sparked a lively discussion in the Linux subreddit:
Bloodguard: "That's probably the kindest "you suck, so we're breaking up" letter I've ever read. Good on Digital Ocean for stepping up and cutting them a good deal."
Chevex: "We maybe could have given them some money out of the kindness of our hearts, but there really are a TON of things they could have tried before stooping so low. Wikipedia knows how to get their act together. They put a sizable but not annoying banner on every single page asking for a small donation to help keep the lights on. How hard would that have been? How many of us would have donated to keep SF pure? I give a few bucks every time Wikipedia asks because I'd much rather do that than not have Wikipedia, or have a Wikipedia filled with ads and malware."
Wub: "Not a lot? Wikipedia has billions of unique visitors per year and a very small minority donates. Only about 2.5m donated something in 2013-2014, and they have as I said billions of page views. I'm pretty sure that SF doesn't get as close as much traffic, and the costs of operating it are much higher too."
Scoith: "The thing is, they are again misunderstading what they are dealing with. What SourceForge did was unethical; the exploited the faith its users put into it. And they didn't let projects go when their administrators tried to move them away, which still bundling them with crapware and tarnishing the image of the projects. They don't need to have paid money to complain about this.
They didn't understand what a FOSS distro is back then, and they don't understand what a FOSS project hosting is now. Elementary people imply that projects like GIMP and nmap don't have any right to complain about it, but that is totally bullshit. SourceForge was a business model that existed because of these FOSS projects, and people used SF because they weren't doing the mistakes they are doing now back then.
SF has tarnished their image, and despite the fact that they are trying to move away, SF isn't letting go and continue tarnishing their image. At this point, it doesn't matter if they "didn't pay a dime" or not, they have every right to complain about SF. And those Elementary guys are doing another wrong by implying that GIMP, nmap, ... devs are raging freeloader kids.
There's clearly a message to Elementary users out there: unless you're not paying..., and I think this is the main reason they're talking about dimes, freeloaders and wrongfully raging teenagers; and only this way it makes sense. They're asking Elementary users to stop criticizing them about their previous stunt, accept that using a FOSS OS freely is cheating and pay up in an indirect way (because by now, everybody knows how it goes when you say such outrageous things in a direct way).
So they stopped "raging against their parents, screaming “no fair” while freeloading" by... moving into the cool guy's apartment at school and continuing freeloading?"
TPHRyan: "I think you're trying to read into this too much. It just looked to me like they were leaving SF in a way that charitably gave them the benefit of the doubt, and accepting an overly generous amount of responsibility, instead of just pot-stirring like everyone else."
DanielFore: "We agree that what Sourceforge did was unethical. That was why we wanted to move away. I'm not sure what Sourceforge's numbers look like, but the ads that they serve must not be doing that well if they feel like they have to do stuff like this to turn a buck. Another commentor said they should have been more open and just asked for help with funding and I agree that would have been a better path. But I think there's a bigger conversation to be had about how we fund the open source ecosystem and what happens when we rely on advertisements as a funding model and what our role in that ecosystem is. I think it's a little more nuanced than "Sourceforge is evil now".
Regarding our new servers, I realize that might be a little foggy. The situation is that normally they would have a bandwidth cap. One of the guys on our web team has been with Digital Ocean for a long time and they used to have unlimited bandwidth. So we reached out to them and they were kind enough to honor the original unlimited bandwidth agreement. So these are servers that we pay for, but at a discount. So before our servers were paid for by ads from Sourceforge. Now they are just paid directly out of our pocket."
Send: "Or they just thought they'd get away with it. The people who run SF now aren't the same as when they first started. There are other avenues for making money than bundling your product with adware and then lying to the people who trusted you enough to download and install something you gave them.
I also don't see how you can possibly reconcile their for-profit motives with an apparent appeal to think of what they've done for the community. SF had a positive impact but they weren't be altruistic if the idea was that they were going to make money doing this. You can't have both these things. If you're trying to make money of an action then you're no longer doing anyone a favor. You're a business that has a relationship with your customers. It's just apparently SF thinks of it as more of an "Ike Turner" relationship.
SF had enormous street cred for the majority of its existence. They've been doing this adware stuff for years and frankly after the GIMP thing people just genuinely feel like they've burned through whatever street cred they had. They're quickly approaching "Experts Exchange" level of desirability."
Funding in the open ecosystem is more or less settled outside of some possible future upsets. You either set up a chartiable foundation and encourage people to donate for the PR and tax deduction, or you develop a product+set of services with the idea that you'll eventually go public. 90% of FOSS companies fall into that category.