The end of SourceForge as we know it

I got a nasty surprise on Friday while putting the finishing touches on Varnish 1.0.4.

I was updating package metadata and simultaneously working on the release engineering documentation, which includes instructions for generating and testing packages. As usual when writing documentation, I wanted to verify that every command line I included in the text worked as expected. This meant I needed access to a system that runs a RedHat-based distribution to test the rpmbuild command line. Naturally, I thouhgt of SourceForge‘s compile farm.

In case you didn’t know, SourceForge’s compile farm is a collection of shell servers running various operating systems including {Free,Net,Open}BSD, MacOS X and several Linux distributions. SourceForge users can log in and compile or test software on any of these operating systems.

Actually, I should say was, and could, because as I discovered on Friday, the compile farm is no more. SourceForge discontinued it in February, without warning; in fact, they did not even announce it until a full week later, and even then it was only posted on a forum about Alexandria, which is the internal code name for the software that powers SourceForge. There has been no mention of this in any of the three monthly newsletters SourceForge have sent out since they shut down the compile farm. Moreover, the compile farm is still mentioned in several places in the site documentation.

For me, the compile farm was one of the top reasons for using SourceForge. I did not use it often, but when I did it was indispensable. With the compile farm gone, all SourceForge has left to offer is the download service. All the other features—version control system, mailing lists, forums, bug trackers—were poorly designed, poorly implemented and too slow to be of any use. Even the download service is of limited use these days, as I have other means available to me; I run several servers myself, and have access to others through my employer, the FreeBSD project, etc.

So farewell to SourceForge; perhaps one of their competitors (Savannah, Tigris etc.) will pick up the baton.

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