OpenWrt and GitHub vs. Gitlab
sampablokuper at posteo.net
Fri Jun 11 16:03:54 PDT 2021
On Thu, Jun 10, 2021 at 09:15:11AM +0200, Daniel Golle wrote:
> Apart from that, [moving to Gitlab.com] would lock us there just like
> github.com would.
I don't think this is true.
Moving OpenWRT's code hosting and bug tracking to Gitlab.com for a while
would allow easy migration to a Gitlab instance hosted elsewhere at a
This is because of two things:
1. Gitlab is Free Software. So, as already pointed out in this thread,
OpenWRT, or a third party, can in principle host a Gitlab instance
on any suitable server.
2. Gitlab repos (complete with bug reports and other crucial metadata -
i.e. not just the Git repo alone) are portable between Gitlab
That is *not* something GitHub offers. GitHub's underlying software is
proprietary. If you decide at some point to leave GitHub.com, the
migration process is *painful* because you can't just copy your repos
(including metadata, as above) to a GitHub instance hosted by some other
organisation of your choice.
Yes, GitHub has an API. But even with the API, it's non-trivial to
migrate all the metadata of a project - especially a large, active,
complex project like OpenWRT - to a different code- and metadata-hosting
location (or "forge", as they used to be called).
Yes, various people have written GitHub-to-whatever migration tools.
IME they are all buggy enough to require a *lot* of exhausting manual
work to catch and avoid data loss.
It's in GitHub's interests to keep migration friction high, because that
acts as a kind of lock-in mechanism. (You could call it "soft" lock-in,
as in the phrase "soft power". Insidious, because it's not so obvious.
But likely at least as effective as "hard" lock-in, or "hard power".)
Add to that the facts that GitHub feeds objectionable amounts of
metadata to Microsoft, has increasing accessibility and security
for example - SourceHut is the clear winner on that front), and excludes
developers from various countries, and I think it's clear that GitHub
would be a poor choice for any project. Especially an international
Free Software project like OpenWRT. See also
and https://sanctum.geek.nz/why-not-github.html .
Rather than moving any additional OpenWRT resources *to* GitHub, I would
encourage OpenWRT developers to focus on moving OpenWRT resources *out*
of GitHub to places that are more supportive of Free Software and data
Yes, Gitlab shafted Gitorious. That was bad. But it's water under the
Pragmatically, as long as OpenWRT makes regular local backups of
projects hosted at Gitlab.com, and as long as at least one developer has
a reasonably up-to-date copy of Gitlab itself, then even if Gitlab.com
vanished overnight, disaster recovery would in principle just involve
deploying that Gitlab copy onto a server, and populating it from the
locally backed-up repos (which would include metadata, as above).
SourceHut might also have these advantages. Likewise maybe Notabug.org.
Again, this is *not* something that can be said of GitHub.
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