Google to Host Open Source Projects

Google announced plans Thursday at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention in Portland, Ore. to provide hosting for open source projects. While the effort may seem to compete with offerings such as SourceForge.net, the search giant says its intentions are not to replace those services.

The project hosting service would be available through Google Code, the company's repository for various APIs and developer tools that can be used to add Google services to applications.

Hosting with the service will provide users with a project workspace, version control, issue tracking capabilities, and a mailing list provided by the Google Groups service. Unlike many of Google's beta products, anyone would be allowed to apply for an account immediately.

"One of our goals is to encourage healthy, productive open source communities," Google said in its FAQ describing the new service. "Developers can always benefit from more choices in project hosting."

Google's hosting service may not be for everybody, however. The company said it had no plans to offer shell accounts, a build farm, private projects, nested projects, or multiple alternatives for each type of hosted tool anytime soon. Still, the company feels that some of the features within the product could attract developers.

Those behind the project, Google open source engineer Greg Stein and open source program manager Chris DiBona, told NewsForge Thursday that the service provides a "brand new look" at issue tracking, and leverages the company's strengths in text search to enhance the overall service.

To prevent those from co-opting a project on SourceForge, Google has obtained a list of project names to prevent such an occurrence. Google relies "rely on the goodwill of open source participants to ensure they are the rightful owner or creator of a project name," it said.

Unlike SourceForge, Web hosting will not be provided, although Google plans to eventually enable a file download feature. Accounts will only be awarded to projects licensed under seven programs: the Apache license, Artistic License, GNU General Public License (GPL), Lesser General Public License (LGPL), Mozilla License, BSD license, and MIT licenses.

"The open source community has been flooded with lots of nearly identical licenses," Google explained in its decision to only support seven license structures. "We'd like to see projects standardize on the most popular, time-tested ones," it said.

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