Can SourceForge regain credibility with Linux users and developers?

Also in today's open source roundup: 5 reasons to install Linux on a laptop, and AnandTech reviews the OnePlus 3 Android phone

security trust

Can SourceForge regain its credibility?

SourceForge alienated many Linux users and developers a while back when the site was plagued with malware ads and other problems. Now SourceForge has a new owner, but is it too late for SourceForge to regain credibility with the open source community?

Sean Gallagher reports for Ars Technica:

SourceForge, under DHI’s ownership, had become a den of deceptive advertising, with download pages filled with “advertisements” that disguised themselves as download buttons. These ads were often “malvertising,” linked to borderline or even malicious downloads. And they were frustrating to developers. Despite DHI’s pledge to police the ads, they continued to spread—and many developers moved their projects to their own sites.

But even as some projects checked out, SourceForge continued to host many departed open source projects—“mirroring” them without developers’ knowledge and in some cases wrapping them in custom installers that doubled as a revenue source. The adware installers were part of SourceForge’s “DevShare” program, which was originally intended to be a voluntary revenue-sharing program—generating money both for Slashdot and those hosting their software on the site.

When the acquisition closed, Abbott said, “The first thing we did was eliminate the DevShare program that bundled adware in installers.” While DHI said that it had ended the practice of using DevShare installers with open source mirrors after the controversy boiled over last summer, the “bundle” offers were still a major chunk of the revenue strategy for the site before the acquisition.

There are still ads—and lots of them, since SourceForge’s business model is driven by advertising. But the company put a staff member full time on the job of hunting down deceptive download button ads and blacklisting the advertisers behind them. “Ninety-nine percent of these ads are removed,” Abbott noted, “and we are about to roll out a reporting system where any user can report a bad ad for blacklisting. We have not announced this yet, but it is live for 30 percent of our user base and will be fully live by the end of this week.”

More at Ars Technica

Readers of the SourceForge article had quite a lot to say about the future of the site, and they weren’t shy about sharing their thoughts:

Idd: “I’ve left SourceForge in favor of Github and Slashdot in favor of Ars. There’s no bloody way in hell I’m ever going back to either.”

JimmiG: “Gaining trust takes a lot more time and effort than losing it. It will probably take years to regain the trust they lost during those few months… ”

Krugar: “Nevertheless the effort to regain trust deserves being applauded and, contrary to many other news outlets, Ars did the right thing reporting and spreading the word that SF is trying. I applaud both.

However, like others, I am very skeptical of the success of this new SF campaign to clean their face. Mr Logan Abbot says that their business model is different from that of GitHub, which invariably means it is different from most all other similar services being offered to developers. They are swimming against the current. That could be a good thing, but…

I can only presume this means SF will remain a business heavily influenced by ad revenue and, contrary to GitHub and others, will have an hard time keeping their business model abstracted away from the end users and completely transparent to them. That being the case, this won’t fly with developers anywhere. No one is bothered by the amounts of money these services can make. In fact we want them to be viable businesses so that we can enjoy from their continued service. But with the current services being offered out there, SF business model will stick like a sore thumb. No matter their smart but eventually insufficient move to provide a GitHub conversion path.

On one thing Mr. Abbot is absolutely right though. SF offers a good software distribution service, allowing developers to both maintain their code but also provide binaries to the end users who don’t want to be bothered with code compilation. But that won’t be enough. It never was.”

Zarsus: “At least they are trying, that ought to count for something. On the other hand, it’s simply a habit for me to go to github to find open source projects nowadays, and I just don’t see how they can change user behavior unless they can somehow convince many good open source projects to switch over.”

Sudo Robot Destroy: “The damage is already done. We had a major project where I work that was on SourceForge and moved it to somewhere else last year. Shortly after that SourceForge was added to our blocked list and we can’t even access it anymore. Once things go on that list I don’t think they’ll ever come off of it, regardless of what improvements they make. They’d be better off starting from scratch and changing the name in my opinion. ”

Wolrah: “Sourceforge has a chance to return because so many older projects are still there thanks to abandonment and/or apathy, so it’s still a place many of us had to go from time to time even during the worst of DHI’s time. They may be able to turn this continued traffic in to regained respect, though they still face an uphill battle now that Github has become pretty much the assumed standard in the open source community.”

Mcherm: “Once you cross certain lines, you can almost never regain my trust.

SourceForge has crossed that line. The new ownership could offer excellent quality, free hosting with added services for 10 years without any abuses, and they would not regain my trust. If I were advising them, I would suggest that they start a completely new project rather than trying to restore this tainted brand.”

Rookie_MIB: “After reading this, I decided to actually visit the site and see how they’re doing, and I have to say it’s vastly improved. Cleaned up interface. Only ONE download button to be found - and it’s the one to actually download the program I was looking for. Advertising looks like normal advertising which of course is to be expected.

Kudos. I might actually look to them when I’m looking for software now instead of automatically skipping them.”

More at Ars Technica

5 reasons to install Linux on a laptop

Linux has much to offer macOS and Windows users, and installing Linux on a laptop is a great way to take advantage of it. A writer at Gizmodo offers five reasons why it’s a good idea to install Linux on a laptop.

David Nield reports for Gizmodo:

You can choose something other than MacOS or Windows 10 when it comes to an operating system for your computer. If you’re prepared to be a little more adventurous, Linux has plenty of great features that will save you time and make working a little less dull. The best part is that Live Installations allow you to try out the software before you wipe your entire hard drive.

Linux comes in various flavors called distros (distributions) and it’s up to you to determine which one you opt for. Ubuntu is by far the most popular desktop distro and is a good place to start for beginners, so we’ve focused on that one here, but once you’ve grasped the basics feel free to explore the pros and cons of some others out there.

1. You don’t have to ditch Windows (or OS X)

2. It’s simple to set up

3. Everything you need is included

4. It’s very secure

5. You’re supporting open source and free software

More at Gizmodo

AnandTech reviews the OnePlus 3

Competition among Android phones is quite cutthroat these days, and the sheer range of choices can make it hard for a user to choose a phone. The OnePlus 3 is a new Android Phone that has caught the attention of the Android community, and AnandTech has an in-depth review that will help you decide if the OnePlus 3 is worth buying.

Brandon Chester reports for AnandTech:

The design of the OnePlus 3 really is a level above that of the OnePlus 2. The move to an aluminum unibody combined with reduced thickness and mass makes the device feel of a might higher quality than the OnePlus 2, and it sits more comfortably in the hand. The entire design also feels much more thought out. When you look at the OnePlus 2 the little island with the camera, flash, and IR module looks like it was just slapped on without any thought, while on the OnePlus 3 the camera is met by the antenna bands and has the LED flash set right underneath it. There's just a greater cohesiveness to the entire device, and really my only complaint comes back to the slightly misaligned 3.5mm jack, but that's quite a nitpick. If you were a fan of the OnePlus 2's sandstone back, you can get a case for the OnePlus 3 made of the same material, which addresses that section of the OnePlus fanbase.

Unfortunately, the display really kills the phone for me. Based on every other aspect I think it would be a no-brainer to replace the Nexus 5X with the OnePlus 3 as my daily driver, even if it is bigger than I'd like. I simply can't though, because I just feel unpleasant whenever I look at the OnePlus 3's display. I don't think it's a stretch to say it's the worst display I've examined during my time at AnandTech, as despite the Nexus 6's faults it didn't have the ghastly blue appearance of the OnePlus 3.

As it stands, my recommendation on the OnePlus 3 is exactly that, a conditional one. If the problems with the display don't bother you then there's a lot to like here. Despite the small problems it has besides the screen, the OnePlus 3 represents a really great device at a more than fair price. If OnePlus can actually fix the display with an OTA update it will be the obvious recommendation for an Android phone at $400.

Right now my best advice to potential buyers is to think about whether or not the inaccurate display colors will bother you. If it won't, and if you're looking for an Android phone priced at around $400, then the OnePlus 3 should be on your list of considerations, if not at the top. It's obviously important to also consider whether or not you can comfortably use a 5.5" smartphone, but I assume that by this point smartphone buyers have figured out what sort of device size they enjoy using. I can't yet replace the Nexus 5X as my daily Android phone, but I hope that I'll be able to soon after OnePlus resolves this problem. I'll be keeping my eye out for updates to OxygenOS, and I hope you'll keep an eye out for my second look at the OnePlus 3's display, which I hope I'll be able to do soon.

More at AnandTech

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