November 14, 2001

phpGroupWare is leaving SourceForge

Author: JT Smith

"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."(SourceForge and NewsForge are both owned by VA Linux.)

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list, other than to remind people that this list is no longer active.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.
I 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.

*** PHASE 1 STARTS RIGHT NOW ***

I repeat

*** PHASE 1 STARTS RIGHT NOW ***

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

I 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.

Thank you SourceForge and the best of luck.

Dan Kuykendall (aka Seek3r)

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