Linux Today: Linux News On Internet Time.

Community: phpGroupWare is leaving SourceForge

Nov 13, 2001, 22:57 (20 Talkback[s])

By Dan Kuykendall

We have been talking about leaving SourceForge for awhile now, and the plan is to move to Savannah (http://savannah.gnu.org). The reasons have been building for about a year now, and its finally time to get the ball rolling.

We want to thank VA Software for the tremendous gift you have given the Free Software community and us in particular. I have said many times that phpGroupWare wouldn't have gotten so far so fast if it weren't for the tools SourceForge provided to us. Departing is a sad process... I have made a few friends with some of the staff and I want to wish them and the entire company the best of luck. We have been a very popular project on SourceForge and was the first project to beat SourceForge itself in the week to week most active. We are the #3 all time most active project to this day. Thats a pretty great accomplishment that we are proud of and sad to have to leave behind as we start working our ranks up on Savannah.

Now on to the plan! We are going to do this in phases, so I will explain how it will work.

Phase 1: The mailing lists
We are switching to use the mailing lists on Savannah. This will be the last email from any of the leadership team should be sending to this list, other than to remind people that this list is no longer active. To subscribe to the new mailing list please visit http://savannah.gnu.org/mail/?group_id=509

Phase 2: Forums
Shortly after Phase 1, we will start posting onto the Forums we have on SourceForge that the forums have been moved to to our new project page on Savannah.

Phase 3: Bug tracking/Patch Manager
This is a big one. We are able to export the data from SourceForge, but don't yet have the ability to import this into our Savannah project. We will be working with Loic (the Savannah adman) on this issue. Once we are able to import our data we will make the migration.

Phase 4: CVS
Another big task. Actually the technical side it quite easy. We simply grab our cvs repository from SourceForge and drop it onto the Savannah cvs server. The real problem is that this will mean that everyone will either need to do a fresh checkout, or we need to figure out how to edit the files in the CVS folders so that we can point it to the new location. So this is not a technical problem, just a hassle for the users and developers who checkout from CVS.

These Phases may not go in order. For example, we may end up moving CVS before we move the bugs and patches. The reason would be that it may take awhile to be able to port our data, whereas moving CVS is pretty straight forward.


I repeat


We plan to move as swiftly as possible... but we are going to do everything we can to make the move as smooth as possible.

Now for those interested in the reasons we are going to leave SourceForge.

1: Not enough control - We need more control over various aspects of the project management tools that we use.

2: CVS security - We have no way to control which developers are able to commit changes to the API and core apps.

3: Stability - although SourceForge has gotten better, we have had to deal with various downtimes and hassles. Our biggest problem is that we could do nothing. With Savannah we will have more power to jump in and help fix the problems so that we can get back to real work faster.

4: Well stated here - http://www.fsfeurope.org/news/article2001-10-20-01.en.html

5: Long term reliability - VA Linux is a corporation, and one that is having plenty of hard times over the last year. VA started out as a hardware company, and did fairly well. Then they started SoureForge which has been a tremendous benefit to the Free/Open_Source Software communities, for that we thank them. Then after they IPO'd as a Linux hardware company and had an insane stock valuation the bubble burst. The stock market started to slow down and DotComs everywhere fell it, including VA who's stock plummeted (quite unfairly I might add). They have since dropped their hardware business and have decided to become a software and services company. The foundation of which is SourceForge OnSite/Enterprise which is a special version that they setup for med/large companies internal development needs. This means that their paychecks now depend on being able to sell the SourceForge software. They have made it clear that many of the new things they are doing will not be under the GPL. All of this makes me nervous...

what happens if their business model doesn't work, and they run out of money? What happens to SourceForge and all of the data on there? Would we want to face that situation and have to deal with the flood of other projects that are also in a panic to find a new home? A situation like this will have sites like Savanna up to their eyeballs in work, and it could be weeks for everything to get sorted out. The leaders of the phpGroupWare project don't think it is wise to wait for such a problem. We need to think ahead and make sure that this project has what it needs to always keep moving and improving.

The benefits for the move are many, so I will try and explain the ones that are off the top of my head

1: More control - With SF we have very little control. We have been a major project on SF and although it has given us some influence, we are still having to deal with a corporation which makes the decisions on how and when features will be implemented, changed, or taken away. With Savannah we have much more influence, and will have more power to implement custom features where necessary.

2: CVS security - Currently there is very little security of our CVS tree. Once granted developer access, a developer can commit changes to any file in the entire tree, including the API. Of course we monitor changes to the API and all the core apps, but we are human and may overlook something that we wouldn't want. With Savannah we will have more control over our CVS tree and will be able to have a limited number of users be allowed to commit changes to the API and core applications. How robust and flexible we will be able to do with better CVS security is yet unknown, but even just that one start will be very important. Its my hopes that we will be able to have subgroups for each application, so that the maintainer of each app will be able to control which of the developers has rights to commit changes to his project. Thats the ultimate goal, but at this point we are not sure it will be possible anytime soon.

3: Promote Freedom - This is a crucial issue. We want to move to Savannah in part because Savannah is a GNU project and as such will help promote the values of Freedom that the GNU project stands for. Since phpGroupWare is a large project with many many users and people watching us, we have some power to bring more exposure to Savannah and GNU. We want to take the opportunity. Additionally, we are now an official GNU Project and I want to start promoting that fact much more.

4: phpGroupWare version of SourceForge - As some of you may know, Savannah is working to re-write the same kind of functionality of SourceForge but this time on top of phpGroupWare. You can see something of a start on this concept at http://picolibre.eu.org We think it is going to be important for us to be there while this is happening, so that we will be able to "eat our own dogfood" as they say. Imagine being able to go to Savannah and being able to review all the bugs and patch submissions, join the forum discussions, as you would on SourceForge, but then in addition also be able to look at your own todo list, check your calendar, your email, maybe check the weather report and read a few comic strips... all from a single location. The tools will be in place to do all of this... and it will be done with phpGroupWare in the middle of it all. How exciting is that!

5: CoopX - CoopX is an effort to define a standard for importing/exporting/sync all of a projects data. This way there will be a standard for being able to move our project to another host/solution in the future... It will allow for us to mirror the project to another service as well. Overall this will give us more peace of mind just knowing that we can easily pick up and leave Savannah (unlikely as that may be) if we need to for some reason. Loic is very involved in this effort and it will be an important standard as more and more of these development environments pop up.

I hope you all understand why we are making this move, and for those that don't... we are doing it anyway ;-p

Thank you SourceForge and the best of luck.

Dan Kuykendall (aka Seek3r)