Microsoft’s GitHub acquisition (a civil exchange of thoughts)

GitHub users have seen the (now removed) banner and IT’lers have read it in the news.
Microsoft acquires GitHub and I’ve been reading for a couple of days through all sorts of reactions on the web, ranging from a petition against, the ‘GitHub Evacuation Center’ (now censored by GitHub) to why this is a good thing for developers. :thinking:

My goal is NOT to discuss the pros and cons, we’ll not change it anyway.
Also I’m not trying to create a panic for ‘doomsday’ and am not advocating to run away from GitHub.
However, one of the biggest sharks in the tank has swallowed GitHub and their position to Open Source is well known. How GitHub will change is unknown.

What are alternative platforms and does it make sense to run dual hosting, to be prepared for a ‘worst case scenario’ ? (It’s a good idea to buy the baseball bat and put some nails through it, before the zombie apocalypse beaks out :wink: )

Transitioning to a new platform will come with lots of learning, trials and errors until everting runs as smooth as expected. Is there support in the Maslow community to have a tested plan B in the pocket, just in case?

Yes, I agree. If nothing changes, it is a huge waste of time and effort.

Edit: The GitHub acquisition doesn’t actually close till the end of the calendar year.


The really nice thing about git is that it’s distributed.

github is git plus a few things
git can be hosted anywhere, no problem here.

we use the wiki a bit
this content is stored in git, so it could be cloned and hosted elsewhere
without too much effort.

we use the issue tracker a bit
There are lots of other options available.

it has a nice set of tools for dealing with git (around pull requests for
example), but there are other versions
available, and if Microsoft starts changing github, you can bet that there will
be more, and better versions available quickly

The very nice thing about git, and one of it’s goals from day one (I saw Linus’
initial announcement of git and joined the git development mailing list about a
week later, so I have a wee bit of knowledge about this), is that it is truely
distributed, which copy is the ‘master’ copy is purely a social thing. from a
technical point of view, any copy anywhere can be treated as the master, if only
people agree to do so.

so from a technical point of view, migrating way from github involves no
technical challanges. It’s a hassle, and there’s no reason to rush to do so. But
if it becomes necessary to do so, it’s not going to be that hard.

David Lang


I use gitlab here at work as well as github and it has all the same features, some a bit different and some even better. But in general I don’t think anything needs to be done since nothing is currently changing.


There is time, I agree. As @dlang pointed out, it would not take much to move, if we would ever have to.
Let’s hope for the best and see what future brings. My worries that it would take a lot of time and effort to move are eliminated by David’s response. Where I live you need plan E and F :slight_smile: , so I was likely to paranoid.


My apologies for the long read pontification that follows.

Other folks opinions will vary greatly and as you said, this should be a civil discussion (not trying to pick a fight), but I think this acquisition could serve to make GitHub an even better mousetrap. Microsoft has increasingly become platform agnostic with their initial Visual investments to their more recent purchase of Xamarin and their attempt to break down the walls between app stores (admittedly that was a WinPhone survival tactic that didn’t work). I used to despise MSFT as a company but I am not sure they deserve that hate anymore.

Steve Ballmer was a ding dong but I do believe Satya Nadella is firmly behind the idea of the “Creator”. I have personally seen the impact of some of their business model changes. WAAS (Windows As A Service), Office 365 being the cost of a sub sandwich and a coke per month, the free version of Visual Studio being incredibly full featured for a total n00b like me with only the most complex features hidden in the pay to play version.

They made the right choice in that the old CEO of Xamarin will be the new CEO of GitHub. My hope is that they achieve the vision he had, and that MSFT had when they bought Xamarin. Allow developers to write and compile one application that can run seamlessly on any OS and come from one universal app store.

That said, if it changes to the detriment of our community here, we should make the change swiftly. I hope it will not come to that.


Personally, I think that is the key. No reason to change just because of something that hasn’t happened and may never happen.


was my intent for this post. Good to read more views, keep it coming. The more sides, the better I can adjust my inconclusive opinion.


Thanks for bringing this up @Gero!

When I first heard the news I freaked out and my first thought was “Oh no! We’ve built everything around GitHub! What will we do!” and then I realized that really we built everything around Git which is an open source project.

If Git were owned by Microsoft I think it would be a different story.

As it stands our infrastructure is something like this:

Forums use Discourse which is open source. Right now they are hosted by but I would like to move to self hosting them soon so we can install more plugins.

Code Base we use Git which is open source, hosted on GitHub. GitHub gives us nice features like pull requests and issue tracking, there are other services out there which could offer that. Because of the distributed nature of Git everyone who clones the repository has a complete backup of every version of every change.

CAD all of our CAD is in OnShape which is not open source, but we don’t have nearly the same amount of time invested in CAD as we do in software or in the forums community so it’s not a huge concern

Projects The community garden is open source and self hosted with GitHub and Discourse as the back end. The garden doesn’t rely on github specific features like the wiki or issue tracking so it would be quick to move those files somewhere else. I’ve been moving away from using the github wiki for some things like the assembly instructions (like this) because I like the idea that a cloned project includes every aspect of the project including the instructions and information about where to source the parts.

My instinct is that the biggest downside to Github getting bought is that Github will stop being THE go to place for open source projects and will instead be A place and we’ll all have to learn multiple user interfaces :roll_eyes:


Some consider M$ evil incarnate, some consider them a (somewhat) necessary evil, but in the end they’re an engine for funneling money into their shareholders pickets (disclaimer, sorta retired, IRAs, 401Ks, etc so own a bit of them somewhere). While buying companies to shut them down isn’t unknown (remember Generic CAD?) spending 7.5 beelion to kill a complementary business that has benefits for them (lots of that open source runs on M$) would result in some unemployed executives. No reason for short term panic. Probably none for the long term either. All those GitHub founders can now afford to be art connisours…

Now if it was Steve Jobs he might have killed them for the wrong color scheme. <ducks>


CAD all of our CAD is in OnShape which is not open source, but we don’t
have nearly the same amount of time invested in CAD as we do in software or in
the forums community so it’s not a huge concern

This is true, but OnShape does allow export of the CAD into multiple formats.
This looses the parameterized capability (only the results with the current
parameters are in the export), but AFAIK, there is not any standard format that
can preserve the parameters, so it’s not OnShape’s fault.

I also don’t know of any other CAD software that would not have the same “what
if the company goes evil” problem.

My instinct is that the biggest downside to Github getting bought is that
Github will stop being THE go to place for open source projects and will
instead be A place and we’ll all have to learn multiple user interfaces

This will happen to some extent (Microsoft under current management is not that
bad, but it has a really bad track record to live down, IBM went through the
same transition 20 or so years ago and they still haven’t finished living down
their old reputation)

but as you note, most of what we are using is git, which is the same no matter
where it’s hosted.

1 Like

If this was the Bill Gates or Steve Balmer Microsoft, there would be pleanty of
reason to be worried, but the new management (I don’t remember his name, he’s
been in the news for the smart things he’s doing, not for the stupid/evil
things), there’s no reason to panic.

David Lang


Satya Nadella is the CEO, I agree with you.


GitLab seems largely feature-equivalent, if not superior. I wouldn’t worry too much. Worst-case scenario, a gitosis server can be set up.

1 Like