Why did I choose SourceHut?

About 1 1/2 months ago, I published a post on my microblog about GitHub Copilot and why I decided to leave GitHub for good, switching to SourceHut completely.
What I failed to explain in that post is why I decided to go with SourceHut specifically, and not any other git forge.

SourceHut is a 100% open source git forge that uses git with E-Mail and patches, the way it worked before GitHub et al. came along. It is currently in public alpha.

I’ve always hated the Pull Request workflow that forges like GitHub, GitLab, Gitea, etc. have, though I just took those as the standard and went on with my life. Little did I know, this is not how git was made to be used.
The Linux Kernel is developed with patches over mailing lists, which I knew about, but regarded as outdated, because surely everyone would choose the better option, right? As it turns out, popular doesn’t mean good, even though this is what most seem to assume.
I was properly introduced to mailing lists when I heard about SourceHut (although I don’t remember how I caught wind of it), with a slick, minimal, fast web interface that just isn’t as sluggish as when kilobytes of JavaScript have to be downloaded in order to look at a README. It felt refreshing to be able to comfortably browse a repository without feeling like browsing a social network, including stickers, achievements, likes (in the form of stars on repositories), etc.

Needless to say, I was instantly hooked. The modern web is bloated with sites that are several megabytes in size (yes, megabytes, for websites that display text and the occasional image), which cripples your experience surfing the web tremendously. Having to wait for multiple seconds for a page to load some text is disruptive and unnecessary. So seeing sites like SourceHut (or minimal personal blogs) puts a smile on my face and fills me with the hope that the internet might not be as horrible as I thought it was1.

This alone was enough to get me interested in SourceHut. But it only got better. Easy hosting of E-Mail lists, collaboration via E-Mails and patches (which more and more started feeling like the right thing to do, especially since I learned to love E-Mail2), a sane CI system3, an issue tracker that is easy on the eyes, a simple wiki functionality for repositories and a whole lot more E-Mail. E-Mail is what drives SourceHut. You can submit patches, comment on tickets, etc., all through E-Mail. You almost don’t even have to use the web interface at all!

One of the many things that SourceHut does outstandingly well is the build system. At the time of writing, it supports 12 different operating systems and Linux distributions, which is more than I’ve seen any other CI offer. It also offers SSH access to build VMs so that it’s easier to debug an issue should the build fail.

For some, this might sound… awkward. But, I do urge you to give it all a try. E-Mail is beautiful if you give it a little time to grow on you. It’s the only major decentralised service that we still have in a world full of proprietary services with mandatory clients, so let’s not give it up.4

SourceHut is an oasis in the desert of the modern web, and I invite you to visit it sometime.
Note that SourceHut currently is free, but will require payment once it enters beta. Even today, a few services are only usable when paying for an account, but personally, I’ll gladly pay for a service like this.
So, what better time to try it out than now, while it is still free?


  1. This doesn’t last for very long, though. ↩︎

  2. E-Mail is a treat with a simple E-Mail etiquette. Newsletters by corporations ruined it for everyone with HTML and top-posting. ↩︎

  3. Through YAML files with build tasks as embedded shell scripts. ↩︎

  4. If not for SourceHut, do give E-Mail another chance with proper usage. ↩︎

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Posted on: August 11, 2022
Last modified on: September 26, 2022

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