We are fully aware that since their launch in 1999, SourceForge had been providing a valuable service to the Free Software community and that this service may still be relevant to some Free and Open Source Software projects today.
The GIMP project did benefit from this service: SourceForge was the place to download the Windows installer for GIMP for many years and we appreciate it as an important part of GIMP history.
When it comes to distributing GIMP, our goal is to make it as easy as possible for users to install GIMP.
We do not want our users having to dodge any “offers” or to worry about possibly installing malware in the process.
With our shared history, it was painful to watch the invasion of the big green “Download” button ads appearing on the SourceForge site. Our decision to move the Windows installers away from SourceForge in 2013 was a direct result of how its service degraded in this respect.
The situation became worse recently when SourceForge started to wrap its downloader/installer around the GIMP project binaries. That SourceForge installer put other software apart from GIMP on our users’ systems. This was done without our knowledge and permission, and we would never have permitted it. It was done in spite of the following promise made by SourceForge in November 2013:
we want to reassure you that we will NEVER bundle offers with any project without the developers consent.(emphasis in original)
To us, this firmly places SourceForge among the dodgy crowd of download sites.
SourceForge are abusing the trust that we and our users had put into their service in the past.
We don’t believe that this is a fixable situation.
Even if they promise to adhere to the set of guidelines outlined below, these promises are likely to become worthless with any upcoming management change at SourceForge.
However, if SourceForge’s current management are willing to collaborate with us on these matters, then there might be a reduction in the damage and feeling of betrayal among the Free and Open Source Software communities.
An acceptable approach would be to provide a method for any project to cease hosting at any SourceForge site if desired, including the ability to:
- completely remove the project and URLs permanently, and not allow any other projects to take its place
- remove any hosted files from the service, and not maintain mirrors serving installers or files differing from those provided by the project or wrap those in any way
- provide permanent HTTP redirects (301) to any other location as desired by the project
This is not unreasonable to expect from a service that purports to support the free software community.