It's hard to complain about SourceForge; it offers an invaluable (and free) service to open source developers and downloaders alike. It is, without question, the predominant host of open source software. However, one criticism that SourceForge can't seem to escape is its propensity for server downtime. Ironically, I was having a similar discussion with colleagues at my research lab and attempting to defend SourceForge for its apparent lack of robustness (and IT resources?). Now, I'm being affected directly by it. I am prepared to launch two open source Windows Mobile 5 projects: Roam and MyExperience. My application for hosting on SourceForge was accepted last week. Unfortunately, however, the project shell service has been down for the past 5 days preventing me from transferring my SVN dumps. It's been very frustrating.
The SourceForge "site status" page says:
( 2007-02-16 12:34:12 - Project Shell Service ) 2007-02-12: The shell server was taken offline for unscheduled maintenance. Due to a need to replace the old hardware and some unforeseen problems in getting the new hardware setup, we estimate that the shell service may not return until the 21st of February. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Interestingly, however, they keep changing this "log" message. On 2/13, they said that the shell service would be down for 24 hours, on 2/14 they changed the same log message to read "between 24 and 48 hours," on 2/15 it read "... will be up as soon as possible" and now today it says "until the 21st of February." I definitely appreciate their openness in relating these facts; I wonder, however, why they don't create a new log posting on the page for these updates--why overwrite prior log messages with new information?
Update 02-21-2007 @ 8:30PM: The SourceForge shell services are still not back up. I do not want to seem ungrateful but this is getting ridiculous. How can a hosting company function this way and still maintain a userbase? Don't they understand that other hosting services are cropping up from major players (see, for example, Google's Project Hosting and Microsoft's CodePlex). How long can SourceForge sustain itself with its well known tendency to break? They are currently recruiting new hires on their frontpage, so perhaps this is simply a matter of scale and lack of personnel. Let us hope. Here's another dissatisfied SourceForge user making a similar point nearly a year ago for similar reasons (link).
Update 02-22-2007 @ 11:05AM: They did it again :-|. SourceForge changed their status message to read "...the shell service may not return until February 23rd" which read February 21st yesterday. Again, I appreciate their candidness but why keep overwriting their old updates. By my count, this status post has been changed five times.
Update 02-23-2007 @ 5:34PM: The shell services are now reportedly back up. I have not had a chance to try them (the SSH keys have changed). The status page now says:
( 2007-02-23 12:00:52 - Project Shell Service ) As of 1200 PST on February 23, 2007, project shell service has been restored. Please note that the SSH host keys have changed: refer to document G04 to see the new host key fingerprints.