I’ve been a Sourceforge.net registered user since 2007, before that Sourceforge.net was a “website” I knew I could use to find great free software. From the “website” I learned a lot about free software, I discovered great tools and I also started my journey as a free software developer, it was there that I added my first project, it was until recently the place I first looked at for any new project I would be creating. That will all end after today where I will definitely stop using their hosting service and also use less of the existing software offers.
This is not a technical issue with any of the Sourceforge.net changes, and though I feel the new Allura platform still has a very long way to go, I do like the innovation and the changes that the new platform offers and the way it changes some of the software development tools while still maintaining my freedom to develop as I see fit (I know not every user will agree with me on this :) ). No, the issue is with the changes the latest owner of the platform added for monetizing the project and that include bundling adware (and won’t most of these be malware and spyware also?) into the installers of free software packages.
Sourceforge.net is sponsored by the advertising that is shown in the download pages of the various projects, each time a user downloads a software package, an installer or other hosted files, a few ad banners are displayed. These banners generate the income that maintains the site and I have no problem that they exist, it is one of the few sites I even unblock in my browsers’ ad blocker extensions, what I do have a problem with is their new policy of adding bundled adware crap into software they host.
I know that it is an opt-in program, and that it’s still in beta, and I’ve also read the part in their marketing post that mentions that the steps are easy to understand and will not deceive the user… won’t they? really? how sure are we when users fail to remove a simple checkmark and infect their computers with the ask.com toolbar and other “crapbar” software. Contrary to what the post says, I as a free software developer am not skeptical about any monetization initiatives when it comes to free software, what I’m against it breaking user’s trust, deceiving them into installing stuff they don’t need, contributing to the proliferation of adware, malware, spyware and any other term you can put in the list.
And I do feel free software needs to be paid, developers need to earn money, servers don’t run on thin air and rain drops, hell I even accept that free software be available in less free platforms if that allows the projects to survive and prevents a few developers from sleeping under a bridge, but this move from the new owner of Sourceforge.net I do not accept nor do I want to help it.
So, even if my projects on Sourceforge.net are only downloaded by me, I’ll move them out of there and into some other hosting. At this point I’m leaning towards the non-free software at github.com. Yes I know their platform is proprietary, but they are one of the most used platforms for free software projects, and I have yet to find a platform that offers the same easy and useful interface, even if it doesn’t offer all the tools sourceforge.net did. Besides I use Github.com professionally and this will allow me to have all projects (free software projects and those I develop as a freelancer) in one single place, also moving from Github.com (if it ever comes to that) is easy, more than the work I’ll have to do to move from Sourceforge.net.
As for software I’d download from there, some of the projects I use are already moving away, I’m sure many others will follow the same path and I’ll download even less from them.