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Re: Emacs packages, GitHub and software freedom

From: Bozhidar Batsov
Subject: Re: Emacs packages, GitHub and software freedom
Date: Wed, 06 Jul 2022 17:33:00 +0300
User-agent: Cyrus-JMAP/3.7.0-alpha0-713-g1f035dc716-fm-20220617.001-g1f035dc7

I think that's a very binary view of GitHub - it might be non-free, but given the huge community it has amassed, it's almost suicidal for projects to leave it, as they'd be reducing their contributor-base significantly.  Projects that are hosted outside of GitHub get way less contributions and I don't think the Emacs users would benefit from this. I know that the people in FSF care a lot about freedom, but I care more about building the best Emacs packages possible, even I have to make some ideological compromises from time to time.

Love it or hate it, GitHub helped a lot for the revival of the Emacs package ecosystem. Especially when you compare this to the days of EmacsWiki and SourceForge. I wouldn't take any steps to discourage package maintainers  from using it.

On Wed, Jul 6, 2022, at 4:58 PM, Yoni Rabkin wrote:
Akib Azmain Turja <akib@disroot.org> writes:

> Recently, FSF has sent the following in the Free Software Supporter
> list:[1]
>> ### Give up GitHub: The time has come!
>> *From June 30 by Software Freedom Conservancy*
>> [Following GitHub's announcement](https://u.fsf.org/3me) of Copilot as
>> a for-profit product, Software Freedom Conservancy calls on all free
>> software developers to leave and "Give up GitHub!" The campaign page
>> lists major reasons to give up on GitHub. Conservancy says,
>> "developers have been, for too long, the proverbial frog in slowly
>> boiling water. GitHub's behavior has gotten progressively worse, and
>> we've excused, ignored, or otherwise acquiesced to cognitive
>> dissonance." Read about the initiative, join the public mailing list,
>> and learn how you can support the campaign yourself.
>>   * <https://sfconservancy.org/GiveUpGitHub/>
> And GitHub is already listed as being a F grade software forge in "GNU
> Ethical Repository Criteria Evaluations" for atleast more than a
> year.[2]  "GNU Ethical Repository Criteria" says that it's
> unacceptable.[3]
> But it is a matter of regret that many (about 133 out of 356 on my
> downloaded archive-contents) GNU Emacs packages on GNU ELPA (let alone
> NonGNU ELPA and MELPA) use GitHub.  What steps should we take about
> them?  (Kicking them out of ELPA is indeed not an option.)

Kicking them out would be unkind. But asking that new projects going
forward use a different backend seems reasonable. That ideally should be
accompanied with a few recommendations.

Emms has been always been hosted on Savannah (for many years now), and
it works well for us. Emms is a mid-sized Emacs package with relatively
light development work. Savannah has been a stable and reliable home
over many years.

Personally, I don't prefer to interface life or work through a browser,
so the features, or lack thereof, of the Savannah Website never bothered
me. For Emms we use the mailing lists Savannah provides, Savannah's git
repo, and I try to keep an eye on irc for people commenting about
problems and improvements.

As an Emacs package, yes, we have been asked by many people over the
years why we don't just use github, and I'm sure that Emms is indeed
mirrored there and therefore has been, without any of the copyright
holder's consent, been added to microsoft's mass code theft project.

   "Cut your own wood and it will warm you twice"

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