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    As a supported of the Free Software Movement, I’ve got an axe to grind with Github.

    You guessed it: the platform itself is closed source.

    When they do things like this (accepting contributions to their site policies), though, it makes me think they “get it”, and they want to properly support Free Software and free culture, but they are somehow restricted from that ultimate act: opening the github.com/github/* repos…

    So, what restricts them? Imagine you are Github. Tell me, what could go wrong if you publish the platform source under an open license?

    [Edit: I was going to post each of my guesses as a reply to this comment, but it says You have already posted a comment here recently., so I’ll post them here.]

    • Fear of competition. What if a competitor uses the source to run a clone? I feel like this can’t be it… If they choose the right license, Github could enjoy any improvement that a competitor adds…

    • Fear about liability regarding security. What if the releasing the source somehow leads to the contents of private repos being disclosed? Or major corporate clients getting owned, with Github as a vector? Etc.

    • Fear of devaluing the IP. Maybe Github is keeping its options open with regard to acquisition. Are big companies more likely to buy a closed product than an open one?

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      From a business perspective, how does open sourcing it help them make money? I can’t think of any, but I can think of how it would hurt them (GitHub’s enterprise product, clones, market dilution, etc.)

      GitLab is open source and I can’t think of a single open source project that uses it.

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        GitLab is open source and I can’t think of a single open source project that uses it.

        Here are some reasonably sized projects that I know of that use GitLab in some form:

        Your point still stands that unfortunately not many large projects currently use it.

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          I don’t think it matters if it’s an open source project that uses GitLab or GitHub.

          From GitLab’s homepage, it looks like quite a few huge organisations use GitLab: Comcast, Sony, Red Hat, NASA, StackExchange, etc etc.

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          An open core/dual licensing strategy gets you discoverability and distribution in official package distribution like RubyGems, Crates, NPM, Wordpress, etc.

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            Why would GitHub care about any of that? They’re not a utility or small project, they’re a corporation with big investors and a board of directors and employees to pay salaries for.

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              I don’t think they would. I saw your “From a business perspective” comment on /newest and was answering the question in the general; I missed the context that this was about GitHub specifically. Sorry for the confusion.

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            GitLab is used by a lot of Common Lisp projects.

            sebboh⬢boxfactory:~/src/$ git clone git@github.com:quicklisp/quicklisp-projects.git \
            && cd quic*
            [...]
            sebboh⬢boxfactory:~/src/quicklisp-projects$ grep -Ril gitlab .|wc -l
            60
            sebboh⬢boxfactory:~/src/quicklisp-projects$ grep -Ril github .|wc -l
            1256
            

            I want leaders to do what is right, not just what is profitable.

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              The very concept of “closed source” software only exists because the output of compilers isn’t human readable. It’s a quirk of history.

              In some alternate reality where all software was written in a scripting language (or otherwise human-readable), the very idea of selling software would be alien.

              If somebody wanted to sell software, they might consider obfuscating the code. Since obfuscated scripts “look like” malware, they’d face significant hurdles…

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                That historically inaccurate. Burroughs shipped MCP OS with source back in the 60’s. It was proprietary. Most vendors thought the money was in the hardware. It was either Bill Gates or him plus some others that knew you could make a killing licensing software. He cut OEM deal with IBM convincing their idiotic management they couldn’t build an OS bettet than his in same time, it was a loss leader anyway vs hardware, and could use his if he kept ownership.

                Rest is history. Others like Oracle were also doing it combined with enterprise sales and consulting. They added locking, lobbying for strengthening copyright, patenting anything having ti do with product, and acquiring or destroyi g the competition. Proprietary software created many billionaires. That’s why it’s the status quo.

                A business doesn’t have to justify proprietary software. You have to justify FOSSing it in terms of the balance sheet.

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                  Yes, as a hypothetical alternate reality, it is indeed historically inaccurate.

                  To my knowledge, yes, the history you describe is accurate.

                  The operative idea in my thought experiment is “suppose all software were necessarily open source for some technical reason”. I see that you are aware that “open source” and “Free Software” differ: you mentioned MCP OS being both open source and proprietary.

                  I was attempting to guide readers to understand why I take a hard-line stance on software licensing. Wouldn’t coding be fun in that hypothetical world? That’s where I want to live, in a place where, whenever a modal dialog interrupts me, I can just comment it out on the spot.

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                    “ I see that you are aware that “open source” and “Free Software” differ: you mentioned MCP OS being both open source and proprietary.”

                    Yeah, there’s definitely a difference. I think I should point something out that Josh Triplett and some other people told me in discussion about proprietary closed vs paid source vs open,etc. They said open-source has had a specific meaning since it’s introduction where it’s pretty much always free and unrestricted. You can charge for it but can’t restrict what they do with it. So, he and others suggested I use the term “shared source” if its still a proprietary license with some restriction based on pay, usage, etc.

                    So, if we go with that, the basics are proprietary/closed vs proprietary w/ shared source vs open source vs free and open source.

                    “Wouldn’t coding be fun in that hypothetical world? That’s where I want to live, in a place where, whenever a modal dialog interrupts me, I can just comment it out on the spot.”

                    That would be great. I’m with you there. :)

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                I get the impression that one or more folks inside github are hardcore pro-FLOSS, too. See above re: “[I] think they get it”.