Software

If Microsoft buying GitHub freaks you out, here are your best alternatives

Microsoft is a relatively new friend to open source, and their purchase of GitHub is causing considerable consternation to developers.

According to a Monday blog post, Microsoft will acquire the version control service GitHub for $7.5 billion. A Bloomberg report indicates that GitHub has yet to find a way to profit from hosting code and other assets for open source software projects without charging users, which may have prompted GitHub's desire to sell.

Bloomberg quotes an unnamed source familiar with the negotiations who said that the company opted to sell rather than go public due in part to being "impressed by [Microsoft] Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella." Nadella has overseen an embrace of open source software at Microsoft since becoming CEO. While he may have impressed GitHub's board, the prospect of Microsoft controlling GitHub is causing considerable consternation among developers.

SEE: IT leader's guide to low-code development (Tech Pro Research)

Microsoft's acquisition does make some sense. The company uses GitHub to host their own open source projects, and Microsoft partnered with GitHub to make exporting code easier when Microsoft's competing Codeplex service shut down in 2017.

While Microsoft's culture has undoubtedly changed since the publication of the Halloween documents 20 years ago, certain segments of developer communities are likely to flee from GitHub in the face of this acquisition, because of Microsoft's historical hostility to open source software.

In particular, GitLab has seen a noticeable uptick in imported repos since the publication of the initial Bloomberg report. Of note, GitLab is itself open source, and it is possible for developers or organizations to create their own self-hosted instance of GitLab. It also includes built-in Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery support, as well as GitLab Pages and an issue tracker.

SEE: Will Microsoft buying GitHub change the future of apps? (Download.com)

Nadella said in a blog post that Microsoft will be a good steward for GitHub, but just in case here are some alternatives. One is Atlassian's BitBucket, which, while closed source, does provide the option of a paid self-hosted instance. Apache Allura and GitBucket are other open source, self-hosted git frontends. SourceForge—which has been working hard to regain developer trust under new owners BIZX—is built on top of Apache Allura.

Microsoft's acquisition of GitHub also brings the code editor Atom, and the Electron framework it runs on top of under Redmond's umbrella. Given that Atom overlaps with Visual Studio Code, it is possible that GitHub's homegrown code editor could be jettisoned in the future.

Additionally, Microsoft's purchase of GitHub has major implications for career management, as HR departments are often chiefly interested in the LinkedIn and GitHub profiles of prospective hires. While the potential for integrations between the two is decently high, how Microsoft would approach this is unclear. That said, this acquisition complicates career management for people trying to steer clear of Microsoft's ecosystem.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Microsoft officially announced its plan to purchase the hosted git (version control system) service GitHub.
  • Combined with Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn, the deal has a strong potential of impacting career management practices.

Also see

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Image: Microsoft

About James Sanders

James Sanders is a Writer for TechRepublic. Since 2013, he has been a regular contributor to TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research.

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