GitHubbub! GitHub Does Not Value Software Freedom.
If you hit this page expecting to have been taken to my GitHub profile, then this is probably not what you were looking for; but let me tell you why you’re here.
Before providing a link to something hosted on a service, it is important to consider whether the service or website is antithetical to the message you are trying to convey to your readers/visitors, and whether it deserves clarification; there’s a little bit of both here.
If you’re looking for a host friendly toward free software, take a look at the GNU ethical repository criteria, which sets standards for acceptable hosts to parts of the GNU operating system.
When you visit
- Change repository names or descriptions;
- Delete repositories;
- Add an SSH key to your account;
- Fork repositories;
- Create pull requests;
- Enable and disable project features;
- Use the wiki and issue trackers;
- View graphs of statistics;
- And others.
That is—GitHub forces you to run proprietary software in order to use much of their website. This is a bit startling for a host that owes its very existence to the success and development of free software.
Desire To Remain Non-Free
You can see a list of some of the open source projects that power GitHub here:
This response is unfortunately misguided—yes, it is good that GitHub produces free software, but it is a false assumption that their proprietary code would serve no benefit to the community: the very existence of their proprietary software gives them unjust control over their users; relinquishing that control is of benefit to the community.
I replied to the above message to clarify my point. After receiving no response, I forwarded the e-mail to GitHub’s original founders: Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath, and PJ Hyett. The response I received from Chris was blunt and discouraging:
The original correspondence is provided here:
- Original request to
email@example.com, Tom, Chris, and PJ.
- Reply to my original request from one of the developers.
- My reply to the developer providing more information and asking for a commitment.
- Forward of my reply to Tom, Chris, and PJ, after having received no response from the developer.