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Thursday, June 07, 2018

The GitHub purchase

It's not as if GitHub isn't already moderately converged, but the Microsoft acquisition of it is unlikely to make things any less subject to converged policing:
AFTER A WEEKEND of rumors, Microsoft officially announced Monday that it will acquire the code repository site GitHub for $7.5 billion in stock. The platform is an important resource for some 28 million developers and home to billions of lines of open source code. It's in many ways a natural fit for Microsoft, which has in recent years warmed up to open source.

But the beloved developer platform may also introduce moderation headaches. Microsoft will soon need to formally decide what will happen to the many GitHub repositories that conflict with its own interests. The tech giant will face similar content moderations challenges that peers like Facebook and Google have, but with code instead of speech.

Created over a decade ago, GitHub is where developers at nearly every major software organization, from Google to NASA, collaborate. It hosts projects as diverse as Bitcoin's code and all of the German government's laws and regulations. The platform functions as a kind of social network for coders; their contributions to the site can serve as a stand-in for a traditional resume. Anyone can publish open source code to GitHub for free; the platform makes money by charging individuals and corporations to keep their code private.

GitHub's 85 million repositories help to make it one of the world's most popular websites. They include, however, projects that GitHub's new owner might take issue with.... "GitHub isn't a perfect defender of censorship, but they still host Tiananmen Square stuff. That's likely to disappear under Microsoft," says Rob Graham, CEO of Errata Security, who helped trace the 2015 DDOS attack to China. GitHub has also been censored in a number of other countries where Microsoft has business interests, including Russia and India.
This is one of the challenges facing Alt-Tech. The conventional startup objective of selling out to a tech company for billions conflicts with the objective of creating something that is not subject to corpocracy and convergence. On the plus side, it should mean that there will tend to be fewer Silicon Valley snake oil salesmen pushing their sites on the Right.

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43 Comments:

Blogger Daniel Paul Grech Pereira June 07, 2018 6:07 AM  

As converged as it is, Github still functions properly. For now.

Blogger Ken Prescott June 07, 2018 6:25 AM  

A possible strategy suggests itself:

Develop "decoy" Alt-Tech efforts, sell them off to raise billions in capital, use the billions to develop the real deal...

Blogger Johnny June 07, 2018 6:31 AM  

Could be this is just Microsoft limiting competition by purchasing a competitor.

I have the latest MS Windows. A lot of the free stuff that comes along seems like it is aimed at children, or at best minimally competent adults. In search of a dumbed down user is what it seems like.

Blogger VD June 07, 2018 6:42 AM  

A possible strategy suggests itself

That's insane. When the first part of your strategy relies upon a one-in-ten thousand chance, it's not a good strategy.

Blogger tz June 07, 2018 6:58 AM  

There is a mass exodus to GitLab in progress.

MSGH also shows the problem - no matter how elaborate, once a market is exposed, anyone can duplicate it using a LAMP stack or add an arduino or raspi into the mix to duplicate it.

The VCs that want to lose billions virtue signalling are the only ones who will keep these dot com zombubbles going.

But it also means alt-tech has the advantage too - it might take a while but you can not only clone, but do it right the second time.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

See Infogalactic.

Blogger Shimshon June 07, 2018 7:09 AM  

Don't know if it's true, but I read somewhere that GitLab is hosted on Azure. Whoever is leaving GitHub for GitLab out spite or concern are just idiots. But it does not in any way obviate the need for genuine independent alt-tech platforms.

Blogger James Dixon June 07, 2018 8:30 AM  

Somewhat in the same category, apparently Alphabet's shareholders aren't quite as big on diversity as the employees: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-alphabet-inc-agm/alphabet-shareholders-reject-diversity-proposal-backed-by-employees-idUSKCN1J22BS

Blogger Evan Hartshorn June 07, 2018 8:30 AM  

git gud.

Blogger James Dixon June 07, 2018 8:38 AM  

> As converged as it is, Github still functions properly. For now.

Exactly. No one with experience in the field trusts Microsoft to keep it that way.

Blogger Dirk Manly June 07, 2018 9:05 AM  

@1

"As converged as it is, Github still functions properly. For now."

Has Microsoft EVER been able to acquire something without immediately degrading it the first time they make a change? Have they ever been able to make enough improvements on an acquisition to outweigh what the damage they do?

This is a company which took 20 years to figure out how to do pre-emptive multitasking (something which I had to implement in one WEEK of a 4-week project in a 13-week, 1 credit-hour lab). They STILL don't know how to do proper multiuser (i.e. 2 people using a computer with FULL capabilities, at the same time... something which was figured out in the early 1960's... no, Microsoft is STILL stuck in the 1950's "Must be sitting in front of the on-off switch to be able to use the computer" model.

NOTHING good will come of this, and LOTS of bad will.

Blogger Brick Hardslab June 07, 2018 9:08 AM  

What shall they do with projects that conflict with Microsoft goals? That is a puzzler.

Blogger Dirk Manly June 07, 2018 9:11 AM  

It's ok. This makes an immediate market for YAGRS (Yet Another Git Repository Site).

Blogger Out of Nod June 07, 2018 9:30 AM  

This is one of the uphill battles of making our own platforms and one of the reasons why these tech giants either need to become public utilities or broken up.

As it stands, Microsoft owns infrastructure services like Azure with the closest competitor being AWS owned by Amazon. Microsoft has C# with the closest competitor being Java. It has Windows with Linux being its closest competitor. Microsoft has a market share in business applications and infrastructure, giving it control of businesses who want a minimal tecj stack. For game development, I am waiting for the day when Microsoft buys Unity.

If we are to build our own platforms, we will need to build up our own data centers (Cloud), our own languages, our own operating systems, and our own game engines...a monolithic task...or find players who don't get readily involved in politics or haven't sold themselves out to the foreign interests.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash June 07, 2018 9:37 AM  

Dirk Manly wrote:Microsoft is STILL stuck in the 1950's "Must be sitting in front of the on-off switch to be able to use the computer" model.


Small qubble.
The Desktop Computer model is pure 1980s. In the 1950s, computers occupied whole rooms and the users were not allowed anywhere near them.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash June 07, 2018 9:46 AM  

In point of fact, Amazon has pretty much duplicated the IBM time-share service company model from the 1960s.
There is literally nothing new in IT, and hasn't been for 30 years.

Blogger Sillon Bono June 07, 2018 9:47 AM  

Microsoft plays with advantage, while AWS can offer Windows servers the customer has to pay the license for windows to MS, When using Azure, one has to pay the license to.... MS.

MS is a proper old school monopoly on certain chunks of the IT industry.

Blogger Sillon Bono June 07, 2018 9:49 AM  

@15

Spot on, the entire virtualization & cloud nonsense is nothing more than the old mainframes of old build a top of relatively cheap x86 hardware.

Blogger Bobiojimbo June 07, 2018 9:52 AM  

It will be interesting to see how private the coding stays under Microsoft. I don't think they'll sell the code to outsiders, but I can see less scrupulous Microsoft programmers mining it for their own gain.

Blogger Eric Castle June 07, 2018 10:44 AM  

And people told me I was crazy to run my own git hosting service on my own server...I never fully believed that even the paid-teir Github would have truly private code.

There are a lot of options out there. GitLab started as a host-you-own thing (and you can still use the code that way). I use Gogs which is pretty slick.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash June 07, 2018 10:52 AM  

Sillon Bono wrote:cloud nonsense is nothing more than the old mainframes of old build a top of relatively cheap x86 hardware
Except slower, laggier, much, much more difficult to manage, several orders of magnitude less secure, and even more expensive.
But you can run Windows on it!

Blogger Dirk Manly June 07, 2018 11:24 AM  

@14

"Small qubble.
The Desktop Computer model is pure 1980s. In the 1950s, computers occupied whole rooms and the users were not allowed anywhere near them."

The 1980's PC is the 1950's model, just in a smaller package (just mines the array of status lamps and no hand-loading a simple tape-reader program in at power-up, using switches on the front panel)..... single-tasking, with one user, sitting at the console.

The "user's not allowed anywhere near the room with the computer in it" model is the multi-terminal model, which is from the 1960's.

Blogger Dirk Manly June 07, 2018 11:30 AM  

@18

"It will be interesting to see how private the coding stays under Microsoft. I don't think they'll sell the code to outsiders, but I can see less scrupulous Microsoft programmers mining it for their own gain."

Wait... you're saying a company...founded on stolen code.... and then who infamously stole the Stacker Compression code without even trying to hide it .... would steal code from account owners on a code-repository service they own?

No way....

Blogger James Dixon June 07, 2018 11:40 AM  

> In point of fact, Amazon has pretty much duplicated the IBM time-share service company model from the 1960s.

Yep.

> And people told me I was crazy to run my own git hosting service on my own server...I never fully believed that even the paid-teir Github would have truly private code.

The voice of wisdom echoing in the wilderness. :)

> single-tasking, with one user, sitting at the console.

The Tandy Color Computer running OS-9 was a fully preemptive multitasking multi-user machine with reentrant code. Windows still hasn't caught up.

Blogger James Dixon June 07, 2018 11:42 AM  

> Wait... you're saying a company...founded on stolen code

Which one, their Basic that originally made the company or their DOS? It's been argued that both were.

Blogger DonReynolds June 07, 2018 12:34 PM  

"On the plus side, it should mean that there will tend to be fewer Silicon Valley snake oil salesmen pushing their sites on the Right."

No doubt, Melinda Gates will see to it that none of the salesmen will be white males, ONLY female and minority applicants need apply. This seems to be a recurring theme these days. I first noticed it from the black bimbo who now heads Sam's Club. Now it seems to be part of the Leftist creedo.....NO WHITE MALES.

Blogger michimartini June 07, 2018 2:30 PM  

Whoever is leaving GitHub for GitLab out spite or concern are just idiots. But it does not in any way obviate the need for genuine independent alt-tech platforms.
It does not matter where GitLab aaS is hosted - anyone can spin up his own installation with minimal effort, or host it for others.

Blogger Nate73 June 07, 2018 2:41 PM  

One thing I've thought about this is that open source in theory should be the easiest to do alt-tech in, because you can simply fork the existing project. (For example there are forks of firefox like palemoon and brave.)

How long until linux itself is converged? Will it be by a big company like Canonical taking it over completely?

Blogger DonReynolds June 07, 2018 4:14 PM  

Nate73 wrote:One thing I've thought about this is that open source in theory should be the easiest to do alt-tech in, because you can simply fork the existing project. (For example there are forks of firefox like palemoon and brave.)

How long until linux itself is converged? Will it be by a big company like Canonical taking it over completely?


You made me smile again.
Nothing is more difficult when it comes to computers (based only on my own experience) than to convince computer users that there are several excellent software packages that will do the exact same thing (or better) than what they are considering or using. They get so totally locked into Lotus, and Dbase, and WordPerfect, and PCPaint, and Outlook, and CAD386, and BASICA....that it seems to fill them with terror to imagine there being another (perhaps even better) software package already available. The moment they find out that the alternative package is much less expensive, they become immovable. They dig in their heels and refuse to even try it or even discuss it anymore. It takes a revolver to the back of the head to get them to budge after they find out the alternative is much less expensive. (I have even lost jobs over it.)

"No, there is nothing that is IBM-compatible. Compaq and Dell are just another no-name Asian computer with an iffy BIOS."
"No, BASICA is the universal standard."
"No, if it is not Lotus, they are infringing on the copyright and will be sued into bankruptcy soon."
"No, there is only one relational database."

Blogger Ominous Cowherd June 07, 2018 4:29 PM  

@28: if the better alternative is cheaper, how can they get big kickbacks for purchasing it? Spending the budget is an important part of being a bureaucrat. Getting wined and dined by sales droids is vital to the bureaucratic career, too. Free or cheap software is a pointless career killer, a solution without a problem.

Blogger James Dixon June 07, 2018 4:40 PM  

> (For example there are forks of firefox like palemoon and brave

Brave is not a fork of Firefox. It doesn't even use the Firefox Gecko base, using webkit (technically a fork of webkit called blink). See https://infogalactic.com/info/Brave_(web_browser) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blink_(web_engine)

Blogger James Dixon June 07, 2018 4:41 PM  

> Free or cheap software is a pointless career killer, a solution without a problem.

For the high level folks, sure. For us grunts it the field struggling to get funding for things that need done, it's a lifesaver.

Blogger Fenris Wulf June 07, 2018 5:03 PM  

DonReynolds wrote:They get so totally locked into Lotus, and Dbase, and WordPerfect, and PCPaint, and Outlook, and CAD386, and BASICA....that it seems to fill them with terror to imagine there being another (perhaps even better) software package already available.
Castalia uses LibreOffice, but it has a number of glaring flaws that drove me back to WordPerfect. Search can't handle curly quotes, page up/down doesn't work, glitches in font display, and other stuff. I don't know of any streamlined full-featured word processor that actually works. I was using WordPerfect 6.1 until quite recently, but it won't install on Windows 10 32-bit any more.

Blogger James Dixon June 07, 2018 8:03 PM  

There used to be a version of Word Perfect that was a free download. I can't find it now though, and it may have been "for personal use".

There was a free version released for Linux years ago, back when Corel was a Linux company. It's apparently still out there. See http://ftp.dreamtime.org/pub/linux/wp8/wp8.tar.gz

I think it still runs if you load the right libraries. There's an old page on how to get it working at http://xwp8users.com/

Blogger Dirk Manly June 07, 2018 8:13 PM  

@24

"Which one, their Basic that originally made the company or their DOS?"

Microsoft Basic.

They took the assembly language from HP's BASIC at the time (the tell-tale clue is ctrl-Z for end-of-file, instead of ctrl-D (ASCII EOF)). They just happened to find the HP BASIC assembly-code printings, complete, while dumpster diving in HP's dumpsters (while they were employed at HP).


Now, how would they know that there would be complete printouts of a BASIC interpreter in the dumpster?

Simple --- the printed it out, bundled it up, and then threw it in the trash, so they could get the printouts past security.

Allen and Gates have been thieves since day 1.

Blogger James Dixon June 07, 2018 8:37 PM  

> Microsoft Basic.

Yeah, I've heard that story. I have no reason to doubt it.

Blogger Quadko June 07, 2018 10:25 PM  

Microsoft closes their own code hosting platform CodePlex instead of building it / replacing it internally with technology they like, then spends billions on GH? Sheesh.

But then, how often is it "buying the customers and brand, not the technology."

Or they regret sharing their projects there, and this is the path to reclaiming them, and "cheap at the price"...

Blogger Bobiojimbo June 08, 2018 12:10 AM  

@Dirk Manly "you're saying a company...founded on stolen code.... and then who infamously stole the Stacker Compression code without even trying to hide it"

Thanks for the education. I knew MS had done some shady things, but not the details.

Blogger Dirk Manly June 08, 2018 1:15 AM  

In a proper world, Microsoft would have been put out of business by RICO prosecution DECADES ago.

Blogger Dirk Manly June 08, 2018 1:37 AM  

with all of the principle officers and board members cooling their heels in federal prison.

Blogger Paul M June 08, 2018 4:17 AM  

The Git source control system was designed by Linus Torvaldis. The interesting thing about it is that there is no central repository - every clone of a given git repo is complete in its own right. It has a peer structure, not a star structure. It was designed to be antifragile.

GitHub serves as a center for collaboration and exchange, true, and is a very useful offsite backup for your code. But the code there can't really be seized or taken away. Staging a public git repository is not only not difficult, it is a core part of what the software is meant to do. Furthermore, I belive the github software itself is open source - anyone can get a domain name and host a github of their own.

Blogger Damaris Tighe June 08, 2018 5:25 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger James Dixon June 08, 2018 8:52 AM  

> I knew MS had done some shady things, but not the details.

We could spend weeks here discussing the many shady things Microsoft has done over the decades they've been around and probably only get to half of them. Their current use of patent trolls to attack Android manufacturers is merely one example.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash June 08, 2018 9:38 AM  

Nate73 wrote:How long until linux itself is converged? Will it be by a big company like Canonical taking it over completely?
1) Not until Linus is not longer head honcho
2) It will be the non-profit Linux Foundation, not a corporation
3) Linux will immediately be forked.

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