November 15, 2021 by Drew DeVault

SourceHut's third year

Three years ago today, I announced that SourceHut would be making its alpha open to the general public after two years of development in private. Since then, in addition to moving across the Atlantic ocean, I have overseen the development of a service, and a business, which has grown to exceed all of my expectations. Today, SourceHut is home to 25,000 users, 5,000 projects, 42,000 git repos and 5,000 Mercurial repos. 153,000 emails have made their way to the 3,000 mailing lists hosted here, and 26,000 tickets have been filed across 5,000 bug trackers. Our CI system has completed 625,000 builds totalling 2½ years of continuous build time.

And so, despite its persistent “alpha” status, SourceHut has been a comfortable home to thousands of projects productively going about the business of building free software. I couldn’t be more proud of our work, or more thankful for the trust and support this community has offered us.

In return, what have we offered the FOSS community? Earlier this week, I asked the mailing list to share some of their favorite projects on SourceHut. The favorites include a mobile client for, a multi-track audio editor reclaimed from the hostile takeover of Audacity, a hacker-first OpenStreetMap viewer, a user-first Medium frontend, and official mirrors of SourceWare projects like GCC and glibc, all of which are new to SourceHut this year. I also recently discovered that the French government’s new site for discovering French FOSS projects uses SourceHut as well. Check out the thread for more, or reply to add some of your own favorites!

SourceHut staff have also been hard at work contributing directly to free software again this year. As part of our free software consultancy, we have taken on projects like expanding OpenXR support on Linux, contributing to projects like the Linux kernel, Monado, Mesa, Xwayland, and more. We’re also responsible for the free software Wayland technology at the heart of Valve’s Steam Deck. We are also the release managers for Wayland and Weston, and maintainers for parts of the freedesktop and Alpine Linux infrastructure, and we became a Bronze supporter of OpenStreetMap this year.

Many new free software projects have also been developed and organized by our staff, including an IRC bouncer and webchat, a documentation site for Go, a new web browser based on NetSurf, and a project to develop a new programming language. Our forgeperf initiative has also turned our industry-leading focus on performance and accessibility into tangible improvements in GitLab and Codeberg. We will also be hiring a third engineer in February who will help us expand this work even more. In keeping with our tradition of transparency, the onboarding documents we prepared for them are available to the public.

And what of the forge itself? Our main focus this year has been on implementing our GraphQL API, which is now about halfway done. This is the main blocker for the SourceHut beta, and we have by now solved most of the unknowns and are working our way through the rote work of building out the remainder of the services. I’ll predict, for the third time, that we’ll complete the alpha and start the beta next year.

We’re comfortable taking our time to do this right, especially given that we’re quite able to provide a great deal of value to the FOSS community even during the alpha. Our definition of “alpha” has a specific meaning which differs from many other projects, specifically boiling down to meeting four important criteria:

When we meet these criteria, we will have reached the necessary level of quality to ship a product we can be confident in for the long-term. However, we have already reached many important milestones which are uncharacteristic of many alpha-quality products. We’re committed to the longevity of user data, and we have many levels of redundant backups and monitoring. Our services are also extremely reliable, sporting better uptime than any of our competitors, including big fish like GitHub. Thousands of projects are already enjoying productive use of our services, and our goal is to provide them with a best-in-class product which far exceeds their expectations and industry norms.

In addition to this work in advancing the GraphQL APIs towards our ultimate ambitions of completing the alpha, we have also taken some time to develop additional products and foster a culture of shared community ownership over our services. We shipped this year, and we’re expecting to ship our hosted IRC services,, very soon. We’ve also continued to enjoy a great relationship with the Mercurial community, who are directly responsible for the maintenance of, in addition to the many volunteers representing their operating systems on Members of our community are also working independently to develop, which will eventually become a domain name registrar which uses git to store zone files and supports cool ideas like OpenNIC. We’re looking forward to involving the community even more in the coming years, as this is a key advantage of SourceHut’s FOSS design that many of our competitors lack — and works to the mutual benefit of SourceHut and the communities which rely on us. If you have a cool idea for SourceHut and you’re willing to write the code, we’re willing to provide you with support and resources to deploy it to.

With that, another year goes by, and the year ahead is full of work to do. I hope you’ll join our public Mumble meeting tomorrow to look back on our accomplishments, and look forward to the future. We’re meeting in the usual place, in the SourceHut room, at 10:00 UTC tomorrow, November 16th. Thank you for using SourceHut, and I hope we continue to serve you into the future.

What’s cooking on SourceHut?

Let’s quickly address the usual “what’s cooking” items before parting ways.

Write support for the GraphQL API was my main focus this month, but it has turned out to be pretty complicated. is one of the most complex sourcehut services — submitting a ticket requires parsing user mentions, fetching subscribers, creating ticket and event rows, fetching or referencing new participants, sending email notifications, and more. I hope to complete this next month.

Legacy Fedora images are being deprecated and removed next week. You will receive an email if this affects you. Thanks to Haowen Liu for taking over maintenance of the Fedora images, and to Timothée Floure for all of their hard work up to now.

apt-key has been deprecated in Debian upstream, and has been updated according to upstream recommendations. This is not expected to impact users.

We have stopped allocating a PTY for build logs. This may cause your build results to look less colorful, but should cause few problems otherwise.

Additionally: now supports partially updating only a subdirectory of your sites, which makes it easier to do things like manage different subdirectories for different projects without having all of them necessarily being aware of the content of the entire site.