[isabelle-dev] AFP hosting

Makarius makarius at sketis.net
Mon Aug 26 11:47:40 CEST 2019

On 26/08/2019 02:36, Klein, Gerwin (Data61, Kensington NSW) wrote:
> The main reason we are looking for a hosted service for the AFP is user and account managements. We don’t want to process password resets, account queries etc for hundreds of authors, and we would like to be able to implement a basic permission scheme (admin/push/read-only).


> Isabelle itself does not have this problem and can get away with self-hosting quite nicely. I don’t think there is any need for immediate action.

Depends what you mean by self-hosting. The current scheme at TUM is very
primitive. Self-hosting with full user management could work by using a
different (self-hosted) platform instead of bare hg + https/ssh.

> For the AFP, the list of mercurial hosting services is not that great. Bitbucket was pretty much the only provider that did everything we wanted with a reasonably good interface.

That is the classic mental model from some years ago, and was my reason
to accept such a huge corporation as Bitbucket/Atlassion temporarily,
until something better shows up. In recent years my aversion against
huge black holes like Github and Bitbucket/Atlassion has increased -- it
is strategically bad to depend on them, they rule more than they serve.

> From the options discussed so far:
>  - versionshelf: looks nice, but we’d have to pay $95/month to keep AFP author access (>45 accounts)

That looks too expensive to me now. My impression is also that they are
a bit too conservative.

>  - sourcehut: looks good, but is alpha and a bit too early for the AFP.
>               Could be an option if it goes out of alpha before Feb 2020. We should keep an eye on it.

Could be interesting in 3-5 years.

>  - phabricator hosted: cost is per user, too much for the AFP

That is $20 per user per month, flat rate from 50 users, i.e. $1000 per

>  - phabricator self-hosted: would be free, but someone would need to donate the time to run it reliably.
>    We’ve been hosting github and bitbucket instances internally, and that does seem to be quite a bit of work.
>    It’s unclear to me if there is any manual effort involved in user management. 

I have started to experiment with Phabricator installation and
administration. It looks all very sane so far. This is not a clone of
Github / Bitbucket (bloat). It is also not a clone of Gitlab
(technically bad).

> From the other paid options on the list:
>  - codebase [https://www.codebasehq.com]: 19 GBP/month would be sufficient for the AFP.
>    Offers many features we don’t need, but so do the others. Interface looks viable.
>  - xp-dev.com & sourcerepo: can’t see much of the interface from their websites,
>    and what I can see does not look that intuitive. Happy to be convinced otherwise
>    if someone want to try them out.

I have not looked there yet, but might do later.

> Free options from the list don’t compare to what we’ve had so far:
>   - Mozdev/TuxFamily.org: does not apply
>   - Puszcza, Savannah: interface insufficient for our needs
>   - OSDN: unpleasantly reminiscent of SourceForge, has advertising
>   - SourceForge: been there, don’t want to go back

We can ignore this list.

> There is another option for the AFP: we could host on github and use the mercurial git plugin [https://hg-git.github.io] to work with it as if it was a mercurial repo. I don’t have much experience with how stable that option is, but it would be free and it would be easy on account management>
> If it works reliably, people can also choose freely what client they want to use (hg or git). We’d stay on monotonic pushes as policy, so no change to current practice, only different background storage.

Such client side bridges usually work only to some extent. It also
violates the principles of purity and simplicity that I have mentioned
here in favour of Mercurial.

The bad culture of Git would still be there in the administrative
backbone, with huge corporations doing their game without really caring
about the users. We have seen this now with Bitbucket. The Github
takeover by Microsoft has caused other unrest: many people have moved to
Gitlab, but that is also bad in various respects.

If you take away Github and Bitbucket/Atlassion from the Git world, its
perceived size and imporatance is shrinking considerably. An you would
have to look closely to find a good hosting platform.

Right now, if a git user asked me about hosting, I would point to
phabricator.org (which is for SVN, Mercurial, Git) :-)

(But I do need a bit more experience with it so say something
definitely. I will setup an Isabelle + AFP project and post that
eventually here.)


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