On the demise of free(code) …
I feel I have to write something about the demise of free(code). Others have written about it too, and its been covered on lwn.net as well.
It’s actually a rather depressing development. They claim it’s due to the low traffic and decline in updates, but it’s evident that’s not the whole truth. The owners recommend their other site, SourceForge, but anyone having been in the loop for the last decade or two knows that SourceForge has been in a slow decline for a long time, more so than free(code) in my opinion. Also, SourceForge only lists its own projects, and only the most active or “top” projects.
I never used free(code) to find the “top” projects or the most active ones. That’s completely useless to me. I went there to dig for small unknown projects, small gems that are usually unlisted on GitHub or SourceForge. I went there to publicize my own small creations, learn about other similar projects and get a quick feedback on recent changes of new releases to projects I was interested in.
There exist no real replacement to free(code), except perhaps for Open Hub, previously known as Ohloh. The Free Software Directory could perhaps have become something over time, but unfortunately feels like yet another Cathedral Style project from the FSF. Don’t get me wrong, I love the FSF and almost everything they do, but they often get lost in their old tradition of big closed off idealistic projects. Eric S. Raymond has a proposal for replacing free(code) and he is that sort of pragmatic person that could get something off the ground. In any case it’ll be interesting, I’m sure.
Some people say all the action is on GitHub these days, but that’s just like an echo of the glory days of CVS, Subversion and the start of the new millenia when we should all use SourceForge. Been there, done that, and yes I do use GitHub, but again it doesn’t list anything but GitHub projects …
Other people say that to promote your small projects you need to become active in a Linux distro, or write about them in magazines or on Hacker News … well, I’d like very much to become a Debian developer one day, but the process to become one seems so increadibly daunting! Also, I’m not a writer, nor am I a native English speaker, I’m just a programmer and I really miss free(code)!
I don’t expect this blog to have any readers at all, so using it as the sole platform for announcing new releases is rather pointless. So I’ve started playing around with Open Hub for my own most relevant projects. It has some nice stats and other useful features that I can use. Hopefully it can serve as a replacement for my most basic needs.