Microsoft and GitHub … looks like it’s heaven not hell

Keyboard backlit

Well, a couple of years have passed, Microsoft and GitHub are together, how do i see it now? Needless to say, I had many worries about this, and I wasn’t alone, so revisiting the subject two years down the path should be prudent and useful.

That is the question I will try to answer, for better or worse. GitHub is still around, rolled out a couple of new features, not unusual for an already mature system, to only roll out one of two new features every year, Microsoft has kept to it’s promise, from the looks of it, not to mess with it, and if any, Microsoft has greatly warmed to the ideas of open source and free software, released quite a few of it’s main products as open source, built the Linux subsystem for windows, for which it has been greatly praised by both the windows users and the open source community alike, became a member of the Linux foundation, and an actively contributing member at that, and really, I can keep on singing the praises of Microsoft even without feeling bad about it, Microsoft has truly turned the page on it’s stance on Linux and open source, that is great to see, not sure if buying GitHub was a cardinal part of that, or simply the consequence of it, and I may follow up on this question if I can get some input from people closely connected with both Microsoft and GitHub. We will see if I can get some input here.

So referencing my previous article, let me walk through some of the points I was writing about in it: The exodus did happen, many software groups left GitHub and in a way, a trickle of exodus is still happening, even two years from the main event, this is something that I consider now as an OK thing, If you don’t like GitHub, it’s ownership model, the fact that it is now Owned by a fortune 500 US company, the fact that as a result of that, it is affected by some of the trade restrictions resulting from the raging trade wars ongoing these days, and a slew of other objections, I am fine with those objections, I hold them as valid, and I consider the move to other git services, or self hosted solutions to be just fine.

The effects on Git-Lab where absolutely phenomenal, Git-Lab was set on fire, development of new features and capabilities took to a new level, I guess seeing the sudden and sustained demand drove this project in the right direction, they kept all the good things, and added some more awesome stuff. I am truly glad it turned out this way, Git-Lab, being a viable alternative even at the time, has expanded it’s offering, and bolstered it, proving that yes, not only they can grow with the demand, but even add more to that plate even during the times of plenty, needless to say, Git-Lab’s self hosted options did not lag behind, the team did not miss that one of the major selling/adoption points of their platform is in the self hosted sector, in which GitHub doesn’t have much of a footprint.

So what about the other platforms for git hosting , self or otherwise, well, I didn’t see much movement in the other projects, they are still around, I think all of them, maintained, but didn’t see new features, or any attempts to expand into the newly expanded? marketplace. That is unfortunate, I was hoping they would show more activity than they did in the past two years, but they didn’t.

So where are we today, well, GitHub is as good and viable as before, maybe the the goodness and viability have shifted a little bit, mainly due to the international trade wars situation, and the slew of discord around that, and the added features in the last two years, GitHub is still good stuff, if you want an alternative, Git-Lab is there, and it has gotten way better, in both the service arena and the self hosted arena, the others, didn’t play this round, they are still there, just skipped the round. My conclusion is, it was a match made in heaven, and now, two years down the road, things are better.

GitHub and Microsoft a match made in heaven … or hell

Last weekend, while I was surfing the tubes, I cam up about, what I considered as a plausible, but very bad rumor, that Microsoft is going to buy GitHub. At the time, I considered it very bad news, regardless weather it was true or not. Some people asked me why, I actually found it interesting that they asked, but hay, its the Internets, and that is how it works now. So here is my answer as I thought of it: considering that I didn’t know what exactly would Microsoft be buying, and there are a few things Microsoft could be buying short of the whole shebang. A: Microsoft is buying GitHub the software, as it is non-open-source, and would like to have the perpetual rights to it, and use it, modify it etc.. This would have no effect on GitHub ( the company or the service it is providing ), B: Microsoft is buying the whole shebang, GitHub the software, the company, the customer database, the storage arrays, the servers and everything else except the open-source stuff, git and Apache are not for sale so Microsoft can’t buy them.

So why is the B option bad? The B option is bad because, if you are a professional developer, or software company using GitHub for your source repository, and you happen to be working on “the next big thing”, whatever that may be, a standalone GitHub is neutral territory, a bit less good than self owned infrastructure, but at least it is neutral territory, GitHub does not care what you are developing, and does not feel the need to care. Microsoft on the other hand, could be your direct competitor, that you want to gain the software edge upon, and now, you would be shipping your code directly to them, and they would have physical access to it.

Needless to say, I wasn’t the only one having issue with it, and the full extent of the exodus from GitHub is yet to be determined. The primary recipient of the exodus ended up being Git-Lab, and with good reason, they are the other Online source safe system, not unlike GitHub, and functionally identical if not superior to GitHub itself. Now for one difference, Git-Lab the software is Open Source, and is self host-able, a bit heavy on the resources, but self host-able nevertheless. I am quite sure, many of those deciding to move that weekend, where simply reacting to a possible worst case scenario, and wanted to avoid the potential crunch when the news finally becomes official, creating a crunch as they did so, funny how that works.

So come the Monday, and the news was official, both Microsoft and GitHub announced that the news is true, Microsoft is Buying GitHub, the whole shebang, we are also told that Microsoft is not going to fiddle with GitHub much, apart from owning it of course. It is also announced that Microsoft is to pay 7.5Billion Dollars worth in stock, which is not as good as in US dollars, but hay, Microsoft stock is pretty good. A note here, I think 7.5B is a very good price, I think Microsoft really values what GitHub brings to the table, and this does not look like a pay as little as possible, and dump the thing into the ground kind of deal, so that looks promising. It does not change or reduce the potency of option B, and while this is clearly not a sky is falling type of event anymore, some may need to seek, and find a new solution for their software repository, either move it “in house” , expensive but more secure, or find some other provider to replace GitHub which, for many, Git-Lab was it, and I do think it would be a good choice, Git-Lab is quite functional, and has been reliable for a long time, so that is a good track record.

So, what are the options? The answer to that depends on who is asking the question, if you are developing an open source licensed project, more or less regardless of size, then just stay where you are, GitHub isn’t going anywhere, and new functionality may become available in the future.

If you are running a private repository, depending on how sensitive the code-base is to the eyes of a potential competitor, you may want to look for safer options, so here is a shortlist: Git-Lab , and they have some nifty migration tools too, give it a spin for sure. The other option is self-hosted, Git-Lab comes up on top here too, being all open source and free software, but do keep in mind, Git-Lab is a rather large installation with significant resource demands, It will run on a Raspberry pi3, but that’s about it, it is a very resource hungry system, but you will need something better than rpi3 to run it for even a small organization. So what are the other options if any? Gogs and Gitea , yep, they are forks, and they are written in GO. And they are both come as a single executable (more or less). They both run admirably on a Raspberry pi3, and are light on the resources compared to Git-Lab, putting them on a Digital ocean 5 dollar a month droplet will likely be sufficient for a small team. Tho I have to mention, they don’t have the same level of functionality as Git-Lab. There are several other solutions available, I did not examine them recently, but if your team is skilled enough, you can run a bare-bones git on a VPS or a VM, and get the job done just fine.

Pinebook 14 inch

After reading, hearing about the newly available development in Linux related hardware, namely, Linux compatible laptops that are, most importantly, cheap enough to afford without breaking the piggy bank, reasonably usable, and Linux compatible. Now, Linux compatibility has come a long way in recent years, many popular laptop manufacturers, and nearly all the desktop hardware is compatible with Linux these days, There are a few holdouts, but it is safe to say, if you can buy it in your local, or distant computer shop, it is very likely to work just fine with a recent version of Linux. The Pinebook, being advertised as a cheap laptop built using the Pine64 SBC is meant to run a Linux, or an Android if that is your preference. The bar being set low enough, as i mentioned, the Pinebook comes with 2 gigabytes of ram, WiFi, and a 15 gigabyte internal storage, i chose, as the title of the article would have already suggested, the 14 inch variant, the other one being the 11 inch one. I have seen 10-11 inch displays, not my thing when it comes to readability for me. The two sizes, apart from the size difference are the same in terms of technical specks, with the smaller one being even cheaper. I requested a 14 inch variant from the website, and was sent an e-mail confirming my request, and supplying me with a coupon code to complete my purchase a few weeks later, apparently there is a waiting list of sorts.

So i eagerly went to the website, punched in my credentials, and selected ny laptop, paid, and, because i chose DHL, i was able to track the movements of my purchase every minute, hour and day, until it got to my door. All in all, with shipping, taxes and customs, it ended up costing around $150CAD. Still way cheaper than anything else comparable in size or specks, even the cheapest chrome-books clock in at around $200+

After a short unboxing, it arrived in a large sized padded yellow envelop, the laptop itself was inside a plastic hard shell, a very good thing, since mine was shattered during shipping, saving the laptop from any subsequent damage. I am merely bringing it up, to help the with the shipping policy, yes, do keep the utterly ugly hard shell, it may save you a few returned, and badly smashed laptops.

The laptop arrived is good shape, not a scratch. And i was pleasantly surprised, a matte 14″ screen, very good quality, nice crisp breaking keys, not much travel, but nice, crisp definitive breaking keys. My laptop arrived fully charged, i have seen reviews who received a their laptop with a flat battery. So after finding the power button ( it is top right ), the Pinebook booted right away, prompted for login and was ready to use it. The Pinebook comes with Ubuntu MATE, arm64 ..
Using the gui updater unfortunately fails, and i haven’t figured out why, nor was I able fix this issue, however using the command-line apt-get update and apt-get upgrade sequence did the trick just fine. So a cosmetic problem, but would be nice if it was fixed and shipped with a working gui update for the novice user.

WiFi worked out of the box obviously, and still works fine after the updates, so that issue seems to have been fixed. The Pinebook does not have an rj45 Ethernet port, but i tested it using two USB-ethernet dongles and it picked them up and they both worked great. Bluetooth worked great, i have paired a Bluetooth mouse, and it consistently pairs after reboots, haven’t tried pairing a headset yet, but i will update the article when i do.

I played YouTube video, normal and hd, and it plays the normal size, full screen HD .. not so much, i am assuming the GPU is not fully utilized at this moment, my understanding is, the development team is working on GPU acceleration, which would greatly improve video and graphics performance and reduce system load when doing so.

The Pinebook does not get hot, in fact, after many hours of heavy load, it would only get slightly warmer than room temperature. Also, to note, the Pinebook is fan-less, so no noise when it is working, good for audio work, good for reading before sleeping, or operating on soft surfaces, since it has no ventilation slots that can be blocked.

I did experience some audio problems tho, the Pinebook has two down-firing speakers, they are reasonable quality and loudness for a quiet room, but when i plugged my headphones into the headphone jack, the speakers just kept going on, well that was odd, the function keys would mute the speakers, but the headphones would remain off, this is being worked on too, the current workaround is to use the available .. but command line, alsamixer to manage your audio transition from speaker to headphone and back, i guess there is some fixing to be done here.

Battery life is phenomenal tho, after a full 10 hours of use, i still had a 20% left in the battery, you can take this laptop with you all day, and never worry about the battery. Charging takes a bit longer, but this would be your run around laptop, that you will end up charging over-night. I am very comfortable with this battery. Apart from the adapter, you can buy a special USB charging cable to charge tour laptop from say a battery pack or a car usb outlet, just make sure your charging device is capable of more that 2A.