Tue Oct 25, 2022 by techknowlogick
With Gitea reaching 6 years old, it is time to reflect on the past, and to look forward to the future. With over 14k+ commits, 1k+ contributors, 40+ maintainers, and 300M+ Docker Hub pulls, Gitea has come a long way.
Our most important goal is ensuring the long term success of the project. Over the years we have tried various ways to support maintainers and the project. Some ways we have tried include bounties, direct donations, grants, and a few others. We have found that while there have been many wonderful individuals, and a few corporations who have been incredibly generous, and we are so thankful for their support, there are a few corporations (with revenues that are greater than some countries GDP) are building on Gitea for core products without even contributing back enhancements. This is of course within the scope of the license, however prevents others from the community from also benefitting.
We’d like to announce that we have formed a company, Gitea Limited, to ensure the goals are met. Some companies are unable to contribute back to open source via sponsorship or code contribution. Many more cannot contract individuals due to internal policies. In creating this new company, we are now able to offer support to those companies who do want to give back.
The Gitea project will of course remain open source, and a community project. The company will now be able to act as a steward, and as such Lunny has transferred his domains, and trademarks to the company. So far we’ve been able to support The Blender Foundation in their move to using Gitea for developing Blender, and a few other organizations. Also, we have already been able to offer part time employment to a few maintainers, and are looking forward to being able to expand that to full time employment, as well as hiring more maintainers. Additionally, we’re planning on establishing a fund to be able to provide support to contributors who not only contribute features, but also bug fixes, performance enhancements, and important refactors.
To preserve the community aspect of Gitea we are experimenting with creating a decentralized autonomous organization where contributors would receive benefits based on their participation such as from code, documentation, translations, and perhaps even assisting individual community members with support questions.
If you are a company and rely on Gitea, especially for critical operations, please get in touch as we are now able to offer:
- Professional support services
- Instance hosting (SaaS)
- An enhanced enterprise version
- and more!
Look forward to another announcement soon where we will document on how we plan to continuously improve Gitea
Here is my guess regarding Gitea’s immediate future, based on what I’ve read so far. The existence of the company will be welcome once the part on cryptocurrency is withdrawn, explained. Some maintainers will be unhappy to have been kept in the dark, but there won’t be enough momentum to create a fork. Within a few weeks, maybe sooner, a proprietary product based on Gitea will be announced (Gitea Enterprise). It is the primary reason why the announcement was made today: advertising it as otherwise would have been impossible.
Gitea trademark registration
018597414.pdf (28.2 KB)
We will not take any sides too soon, but will carefully evaluate pro’s and con’s.
We are trying to be independent and do whatever is best for libre software hosting on Codeberg.
We somehow still hope that there is no need for a fork, but we’ll see.
Hello everyone reading this.
This is a (hopefully unbiased) summary of what has happened today. It will be listed in chronological order.
So today(26 October 2022) at 03:33 UTC+2 it was announced that the following has happened:
- Gitea elected owners has tried to support Gitea maintainers (via bounties, direct donations, grants, and a few others).
- Also there have been corporations that are building on Gitea without contributing back.
- A new company was formed “Gitea Limited”, to ensure that support is offered to those companies who do want to give back. As certain companies, due to internal policy or other reasons aren’t able to give back.
- The Gitea project will remain open-source and a community project.
- Lunny, the longest elected owner of Gitea has transferred his domains and trademark to the “Gitea Limited” company.
- “Gitea Limited” has already been able to help move Blender to Gitea.
- “Gitea Limited” has already offered part time employments to a few Gitea maintainers.
- In order to preserve the community aspect of Gitea, they will experiment with a decentralized autonomous organization(a lot of people are currently associating this with cryptocurrency, which is not the case), where contributors will receive benefits based on their efforts.
- “Gitea Limited” offers support contract to companies.
Note: Lunny and Techknowlogick, two of the three elected Gitea owners are owners and involved with Gitea limited.
Due to the mention of decentralized autonomous organization(DOAs) a lot of people became wary of this, as this concept is associated with cryptocurrency, which most people have a negative attitude towards.
In the Forge Federation general chat room, we(the members of this chat room) were made aware of the hacker news thread regarding the blog post.
A bit later, I found the company that seems to be referenced in the blog post:
In which it’s clear that the company was registered on 24 March of 2022, so this has already been a long time in the making.
A comment made by Circlebuilder was made on the Gitea general chatroom to ask for clarification.
Hi there… I saw Gitea’s sustainment announcement of some rather big changes. In particular:
- For-profit incorporation of a Hong-Kong based company
- Gitea Enterprise version
- Work on creating a DAO
These can trigger a lot of speculations in FOSS circles if not followed up with more in-depth information. That can already be seen on the HN thread. I wonder what Gitea’s plans are wrt further informing the community?
Dachary shared something that he had in a conversation with lunny earlier this year:
Although the only advance warning I had was a private conversation (the only private conversation) I had with Lunny at the beginning of the year where he wrote something along the lines of “I’m llooking for VC money, a few millions”
Which I kept private until now. It looks like his efforts were successful. He also was not opposed to the idea of making proprietary software on top of Gitea.
Meanwhile an issue was opened on Codeberg’s community tracker, as well an issue was opened by Codeberg E.v. members regarding this. There was also the idea of Codeberg starting a new fork of Gitea. Codeberg has since opened a draft blog post regarding their stance.
It was made clear that the efforts of the Forge Federation wouldn’t be impacted by this change. Also for the grant for Gitea Federation shouldn’t be impacted, as none of the beneficiaries are involved with the for-profit “Gitea Limited”.
Now around 12:30 UTC+2 it becomes quite clear that everyone, including the Gitea maintainers are lacking context into what happened and what the implications are.
Lunny provides a comment to circlebuilder’s comment:
- I don’t know what did you mean. A company must be in some country. In future, we should also have branches in different countries. For Hong Kong, it’s one of the zero tax locations.
- A possible enterprise version could provide some special features only enterprise needed and a long term technique support.
- Gitea’s success comes from all contributors. We want to find a way to let contributors get benefits because of their contributions, DAO is a way what we want to try.
Lunny emphasizes that DAO is not what will be used, if there are other ways:
kdumont: I think specifically more information for what “DAO” might include is needed (because it is being confused with crypto) and broader communication that license will remain MIT.
lunny: The emphasis is we want to share the benefits with contributors, DAO is an option tool we found, it’s not a needed if there is better way.
I noted that this discussion should have happened before the blog post was ever made public.
In Gitea’s private chatroom for Gitea maintainers, there’s concern being raised by multiple Gitea maintainers about what this implies and they’re asking for clarifications. in this, it’s also concluded that a follow-up blog post will be made.
The idea of possibly having a plan if Gitea goes sideways was started by Dachary.
fr33domlover notes that there are two Gitea companies, and indeed there is a second one called “Gitea Hong Kong Limted”:
Started in 28 June 2022, which matches somewhat with the Blender forum post, which already hinted about Gitea as a entity. So far we have no idea why there is a second company and what the purpose of this company is.
A comment made by techknowlogick is getting traction on Mastodon, which puts people at ease regarding the cryptocurrency relationship.
Circlebuilder sees that a forgers guild could have an interest in such situations and suggests finally having a kick-off for such a project.
There’s a discussion regarding whether it’s clear(or established) that the Trademark + domain of Gitea are under the governance of the elected Gitea owners. Morally it should be, but the not-legal document doesn’t say anything about it.
In a search for the trademark that is being mentioned the whole time, I find that there are currently three trademarks, two pending and one active:
018597414.pdf (28.2 KB)
Where we can see that the trademark was in the making since 2021-11-10 and only got active as of 2022-03-09 with “Gitea Honk Kong Limited”(the earlier mentioned company, but not the mentioned company in the Gitea blog post) as applicant and trademark holder.
Which might suggest that Gitea company has been in the making since Nov 2021.
Gitea makes it clear that the trademark and domain has always been the personal assets of lunny and not under the governance of the elected Gitea owners.Which, as can be seen in the thread, doesn’t go well with people.
A nice quote by a friend of mine regarding this situation:
Well, [trademarking Gitea is] not wrong per se. The way it was done is secret is what’s wrong.
I think there are two parts which are unfortunately conflated which each other:
Having a company providing commercial development and support services Transferring essential assets such as trademark and domain names to a commercial entity
Conflating those two with another (as done here) unfortunately is a very bad move from the context of a collaborative open source development project.
While I always welcome companies providing professional R&D and support around FOSS projects, those companies should not hold trademarks or other assets of the open source project. There is simply too much risk of damage to the open source project by misuse of the brand, or by attempting to monopolize the FOSS project in some way. A commercial company can always change direction years or decades down the road, after management/ownership changes, etc.
The essential assets of the FOSS project should always be held by a very trusted entity - whether that’s a foundation / association / non-profit or a individual who is respected and trusted by all parties.
Furthermore, the announcement reads like there is a third change in the pipeline: A change towards an “open core” model where some features are only available in a non-FOSS version of the software. Some people also call it “crippleware”, though I wouldn’t go s far as that.
Mixing those three separate steps in one unfortunately sounds like a very sad combination indeed.
I’ve been very happy to support gitea with small monetary contributions so far. But now I think I will have to re-think that decision. Now I’m not helping an open source project but a commercial entity who wants to monopolize a FOSS project and turn it into open core
I’d like to highlight that “looking for VC money” is different from “having VC money”. I have no clue if the company eventually did get VC money, this is all very secret.