Codeberg Forks Gitea to Forgejo
- Adam Douglas
A few months ago the community of Gitea project was shocked by a blog post written by techknowlogick that a new company was formed, Gitea Limited to act as a steward. Furthermore, Lunny the project creator transferred the domains (gitea.io and gitea.com) and trademarked names to Gitea Ltd. According to the open letter the transfer of the domains and trademarks to Gitea Ltd. were done without the community knowledge or approval. About 5 days later another blog post was made this time by Lunny that really just reiterated what was said previously with a bit more detail. It was nice to see how the community engagement would work, though the unfortunate part of the post is that did not answer the communities concerns, and just affirmed that this is what is going to happen no matter what. A sure fire way to break down a community, and it’s trust.
The idea is that the company will help move the project forward allowing for more sustained funding, training, and also offering professional support, Gitea hosting, and an enhanced enterprise version. On the surface this sounds good, but my initial thought was, this sounds like a company that will primarily control an open source project for commercial means. Then I thought why would you not just form company for consulting and services? This would allow the project to continue independently by the community. How it appears from an outsider, is Gitea Ltd. has handle things poorly in the area of communication and treatment of the community members.
In the end it seems Gitea Ltd. wants the community to follow their goals. How can this work when this comes off as a conflict of interest, for-profit company with a commercial agenda vs. free open source software community?
The Gitea community wrote an open letter stating their concerns of these recent changes. Here are the major points that were listed.
- Form a non-profit organization owned by the Gitea community
- Gitea trademark and domains are transferred to the non-profit
- Change the company name to avoid confusion with the non-profit
In the future some ideas were mentioned the non-profit could work on to build trust and build a healthy future.
- Implementing an intuitive and fair election process
- Describing the ways in which democratic decisions are to be made
- Providing accessible places where all relevant information can be found
- Establishing a DoOcracy that works and continue to improve it
For the progression of events from this open letter, feel free to read updates page.
Ultimately the community trust was broken and felt ignored since Gitea Ltd. did not end up agreeing to the demands the open letter brought forward.
To me the entire point of free open source software is that is driven by the community for the community. As a result the community forms a governance of the project along with its goals, values, etc. Having a for-profit company ends up forming an incorporation that will retain control over the project permanently without the possibility for the community to govern such things as the legal structure. Gitea Ltd. can promise to listen to the community, but what is in place to prevent the company from suddenly choosing to not listen? This is one of the reasons why I say Gitea Ltd. has conflict of interest. I honestly can’t see the interests of the community and the company to be aligned.
Forgejo Is Born
The community was torn apart, and it seemed something had to be done. A proposal was made by Codeberg to fork Gitea. As a result of the proposal on December 15, 2022 an official announcement was made to fork Gitea to create Forgejo. The vision of this new project is to liberate software development, allow the community to remain in control to ensure development addresses the community needs without using proprietary tools. Let’s hope this project will end up fostering good alternative to Gitea and allow for the community to flourish with trust and respect.
This is post 56 of 100, and is round 2 of the 100 Days To Offload challenge.