[Linux-aus] FOSS-as-a-service

Tennessee Leeuwenburg tleeuwenburg at gmail.com
Wed Jan 20 22:47:38 AEDT 2016

I would like to present a line of reasoning for constructive discussion and
analysis. It's just one angle on a complex problem and I acknowledge its
narrow focus.

There are many amazing online gratis tools, some of which are libre to some
degree, but which are essentially single-point offerings from a company.
Examples include github, slack, travis and many many others. I'm just
noting some significant examples.

Software is dead (or worse, boring). Servers providing services are king.

Essentially central-server designs seem to be meeting network/mesh/p2p

This is in some ways antithetical to FOSS principles, because whoever
provides the services effectively controls the project. The nature of the
software contract has changed in our ubiquitously networked world. The need
to provide URLs for sharing, describing and connecting to particular
content exhange points have resulted in an arising natural monopoly

One could imagine, for example, a kind of github-on-bittorrent protocol
which provided the same 'get-it-from-anywhere' and support for exchange but
didn't rely on funded entities to provide the central networked machine.

For some reason, we have opted to remove cost and risk from the individual
by moving the infrastructure responsibility and legal hosting onto private
companies. Do we need LA or EFF to host a gitlab instance in place of
github and move FOSS hosting onto a truly libre platform? Should we all pay
a tithe to an agnostic infrastructure hosting context in order to reduce
the influence of money? Or, is the ability to draw a rent from hosting
funding innovation into gratis tools, providing a genuine commercial
challenge to the axioms of FOSS software in providing a gratis solution to

I would like to take the trouble to provide a more coherent essay of the
topic, but I thought I would like to get the thought exposed to criticism
early. I'm not finished but I'm going to stop anyway. Thanks for bearing
with me.
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