Most bizarre Git service and other stupid Rails powered "businesses"

I can’t help but get totally baffled when I see a business model like this.

Yes, that’s right, you can pay for the privilege of keeping a copy of your distributed version control system (DVCS) private repositories on someone else’s machines. You also get to pay depending on how many people you want to allow to collaborate on it.

Nevermind that one of the entire points of a DVCS is that you do NOT need a central repository. Does anyone actually work at a “Large Company” (as the page indicates) that would be stupid enough to pay $100/month so they can put all their proprietary and very personal code repositories on a third party web service?

So what are you paying for? Well, to start with, they have awesome integration with Lighthouse, since we all know there’s no decent free open-source issue tracking system… cough trac cough roundup cough. Oh wait, since there’s absolutely no simple web-based issue tracking systems, let’s have another slick business model to get people to pay for a stripped down Trac (but this time with a really pretty UI)!

What do these sites have in common? Rails, “look ma, I can copy-paste the business plan too” pricing models, and some good graphic designers at the helm. There also seems to be an interesting amount of promotion between these sites, as well as a nice blog post from the Rails creator himself promoting GitHub. I’m sure no one who has read this rant should be surprised though.

I only hope that no one starts to believe that a DVCS actually requires these “please pay” copies of their DVCS repo.

Update (11/12/2008): This post is apparently popular enough to come up on occasion several times now, so I thought I’d clarify a bit more.

Many people have suggested the obvious benefits of services like GitHUB, and I’ve used one just like it myself, BitBucket. These sites are great for open-source projects as many have rightfully pointed out, they make it easy to collaborate and fork projects, and easy for maintainers to pull patches from forks after looking them over.

Most of their social-network features become moot though when working on company code thats not open-source, (note that this rant is directed entirely at the paid service options which are for private repos). None of the companies I’ve worked at would ever let their private source code leave their own servers. Since you need to deploy a site anyways (many times to a remote computer), which will generally require ssh access, its trivial to use the modern DVCS’s over ssh…. which makes it seem very silly to me to be paying so much to another company for a bunch of useless social features for a private repo.

Part of the original humor intended in this rant was that a centralized repo hub has become one of the stronger selling points for a distributed VCS system. Unfortunately many seemed to have missed that point.