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Google announces hosting for open source projects

By Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier on July 27, 2006 (8:00:00 AM)

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PORTLAND, Ore. -- Google is scheduled to announce hosting for open source projects on Google Code today during Greg Stein's talk at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON).

Stein, an open source engineer with Google and chairman of the Apache Software Foundation, will be disclosing the new service officially at his talk "A Google Service for the Open Source Community," scheduled for 1:45 p.m. PDT today.

I sat down yesterday with Stein and Google's open source program manager Chris DiBona, who describe the service as similar to and other community hosting projects, but not designed to compete with those projects.

Stein says, "We really like SourceForge, and we don't want to hurt SourceForge" or take away projects. Instead, Stein says that the goal is to see what Google can do with the Google infrastructure, to provide an alternative for open source projects.

DiBona says that it's a "direct result of Greg concentrating on what open source projects need. Most bugtrackers are informed by what corporations" and large projects need, whereas Google's offering is just about what open source developers need.

Stein says that Google's hosting has a "brand new look" at issue tracking that may be of interest to open source projects, and says "nobody else out there is doing anything close to it." At the same time DiBona and Stein say that Google's hosting offering will not have some features present in and other code repositories that open source projects and enterprise customers might want.

With the new service, Stein says Google was able to "cut out a lot of heavy structure" and apply Google's full text search to just the features that open source projects may need. "Rather than doing queries through that [heavy] structure, we can just full text search across it all. It provides a really powerful mechanism for issue tracking, but keeps it really simple."

The other main feature for Google Code hosting, according to Stein, is a "massively scalable Subversion repository." Stein says Google rebuilt Subversion to store data in Big Table, a massively scalable, highly available storage technology used in Google.

Stein says that the company will have all the Google projects on there, but they're not going out there to get projects to move. As a precaution, Stein also says that Google has a list of projects, to ensure that new projects will not encroach on existing projects' namespaces.

For example, it won't be possible to set up a Gaim project on Google Code hosting, unless there's an approval from the project owner on This will prevent any confusion or deliberate attempts at impersonating projects.

Not yet feature-complete

The initial public release will not be feature-complete, but users will be able to sign up right away without an invitation, unlike some of Google's other new service launches.

In particular, Stein says that Google Code is missing file download at the moment, but that it's a high priority to add that feature. Unlike, Stein says that the service will not have, and Google has no plans to add, Web site hosting for projects.

To sign up for the service, a project needs to be licensed under one of seven approved licenses: Apache license, Artistic License, GNU General Public License (GPL), Lesser General Public License (LGPL), Mozilla License, BSD license, or MIT license. DiBona says that Google is trying to make a statement about license proliferation by offering only a narrow set of license for projects to choose from.

DiBona and Stein describe the project as ideal for smaller open source projects, rather than larger projects with more complex needs, such as Apache or GNOME. However, they also say that larger projects are welcome.

One of the most discussed topics at OSCON this year has been open data -- the ability for users to get their data out of a program or service and use it elsewhere. Stein says that Google understands the importance of being able to move data. "We don't have those [migration features] in there now, but that's something we intend to [have] ... we intend to do it soon after launch."

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on Google announces hosting for open source projects

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Not competing competition?

Posted by: Teilo on July 28, 2006 05:14 AM
The goal is not to compete with Sourceforge, but rather to give open source project an alternative to Sourceforge?

Yeah, and my goal in writing this is not to be sarcastic, but to show how stupid that statement is with acerbic wit.


Re:Not competing competition?

Posted by: Jeremy Akers on July 28, 2006 05:36 AM
Doesn't seem THAT stupid to me, I knew what they meant, and if you read the definition of 'compete':

compete: (km-pt)
intr.v. com·pet·ed, com·pet·ing, com·petes

        To strive against another or others to attain a goal, such as an advantage or a victory.

Google is not striving againt SourceForge to gain an advantage or victory. So... what was so stupid about that statement? Providing an alternative choice != compete unless by offering that choice your goal is to hurt the other parties already offering choices.

Just my thoughts...


Re:Not competing competition?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 28, 2006 07:40 AM
You don't have to directly compete with something to actually be in competition (regardless of what the definition is)...

The problem here is that both SourceForge and this GOOG offering have some major problems in regards to hosting projects. The fact that the GOOG one doesn't seem to support file downloads is a major f**k-up... Most people want file downloads (I know I do when I submit my project AND download others) without it you're left with interacting with the SCM... urgh...


Re:Not competing competition?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 28, 2006 09:25 AM
In particular, Stein says that Google Code is missing file download at the moment, but that it's a high priority to add that feature

It seems to me, they will probably have file downloads soon.


Re:Not competing competition?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 28, 2006 04:02 PM
[quote]You don't have to directly compete with something to actually be in competition (regardless of what the definition is)...[/quote]
You can't have a meaningfull discussion while disregarding or changing the other's definitions. You get a humpty-dumpty style conversation if you do so (humpty-dumpty style meaning shouting at eachother while standing naked in a tropical rainstorm in this context).


Re:Not competing competition?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 29, 2006 07:22 AM
The trouble is is that the "definition" of something is often not the real meaning of a word. In the real world you can say that you aren't trying to directly compete with something but because you are providing a similar service end users will make a choice thereby providing the competition for you (I have a couple of OSS projects I need hosting for and so decided to look at the GOOG service rather than using SourceForge as I usually do). Trying to provide a definition for a particular term can be useful but if it doesn't reflect actual behaviour where that term applies then the definition must be clarified in the context where it is used or indicated that it does not apply.


Re:Not competing competition?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on August 17, 2006 10:24 AM
Here is a second definition that is closer to what the original poster expressed.
>> compete for something; engage in a contest; measure oneself against others

Compete for mindshare and for projects to host.
Measure one against the other in terms of features, quality, capacity, etc.

Basically if you market something, you are competing with all other things that stand to lose (things that are similar enough). And google reps doing interviews or google advertizing its new services on its websites is marketing. Sourceforge/freshmeat are the competing products/services that are close enough.

These may not compete that much (that directly) if in fact it is likely that the gains in one do not come at a loss to the other, if the services are complementary.

I think google wants to grow. They want money. They want to make their stockholders richer. But they don't want to damage their goodwill or their future prospects.

Sourceforge and freshmeat compete, yet everyone is happy. The idea (to minimize competition that hurts the others) is to offer, not a repackaging of the same, but something that is lacking in the others. Being first to offer something helps (not hurts) your goodwill.

Still, over time, I expect google to encroach more and more on everyone else's turf -- that is the nature of the public corp (keep feeding the unsatiable stockholder appetite). When the numbers can't be met, Google will be forced to be more confrontational. But google has so many things cooking on the stove that maybe this point can be forstalled for years. Later when Google doesn't even remember what "do no evil" means, and maybe management has been replaced.. well, by then Google will be a little more lathargic and out of shape closer to what Microsoft is today.. but they may have several monopolies.

In the meantime, they have tons of marketshare to wrestle away from and to defend from Microsoft in numerous categories, and this competition is probably more interesting to the current management team than doing any serious hurting to sourceforge and friends... for the time being.

Anyway, the actual definition of a word isn't necessarily found completely in a dictionary. Sometimes it takes a whole book (or at least a long Wikipedia write-up) to properly communicate the flavor of some words or phrases.


Re:Not competing competition?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 29, 2006 08:29 PM
"The fact that the GOOG one doesn't seem to support file downloads..."

Well, you could just use their subversion web interface to download the file you want directly:

<a href="" title=""><nobr>n<wbr></nobr> dwall/drsoundwall.tcl</a>

all the best,

(da idea man)


Google is dedicated to open source?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 28, 2006 08:31 AM
How about release the source code for GMail, Google Talk, Picasa, etc?


Re:Google is dedicated to open source?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 28, 2006 11:47 PM
Google is dedicated to open source, not to suicide...


A list of all the existing Project Hosting feature

Posted by: engtech on July 28, 2006 08:33 PM
I have a list of all the Project Hosting features at:

<a href="" title=""><nobr>d<wbr></nobr> e-project-hosting-a-replacement-for-sourceforge/</a>


Thank goodness for competition.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 29, 2006 06:37 AM
Sourceforge hasn't had any serious competition which is why its interface is a mess, searching is imprecise, there's constant downtime, and the forums have the worst interface I've seen. Tigris, Berlios, Savannah, etc. are nice alternatives but they tend to cater to niche OSS projects. Google could finally alarm Sourceforge enough so there's some healthy competition.


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