sr.ht, the hacker's forge, now open for public alpha

Published 2018-11-15 on Drew DeVault's blog

I’m happy to announce today that I’m opening sr.ht (pronounced “sir hat”, or any other way you want) to the general public for the remainder of the alpha period. Though it’s missing some of the features which will be available when it’s completed, sr.ht today represents a very capable software forge which is already serving the needs of many projects in the free & open source software community. If you’re familiar with the project and ready to register your account, you can head straight to the sign up page.

For those who are new, let me explain what makes sr.ht special. It provides many of the trimmings you’re used to from sites like GitHub, Gitlab, BitBucket, and so on, including git repository hosting, bug tracking software, CI, wikis, and so on. However, the sr.ht model is different from these projects - where many forges attempt to replicate GitHub’s success with a thinly veiled clone of the GitHub UI and workflow, sr.ht is fundamentally different in its approach.

The sr.ht platform excites me more than any project in recent memory. It’s a fresh concept, not a Github wannabe like Gitlab. I always thought that if something is going to replace Github it would have to be a paradigm change, and I think that’s what we’re seeing here. Drew’s project blends the wisdom of the kernel hackers with a tasteful web interface.

begriffs on lobste.rs

The 500 foot view is that sr.ht is a 100% free and open source software forge, with a hosted version of the services running at sr.ht for your convenience. Unlike GitHub, which is almost entirely closed source, and Gitlab, which is mostly open source but with a proprietary premium offering, all of sr.ht is completely open source, with a copyleft license1. You’re welcome to install it on your own hardware, and detailed instructions are available for those who want to do so. You can also send patches upstream, which are then integrated into the hosted version.

sr.ht is special because it’s extremely modular and flexible, designed with interoperability with the rest of the ecosystem in mind. On top of that, sr.ht is one of the most lightweight websites on the internet, with the average page weighing less than 10 KiB, with no tracking and no JavaScript. Each component - git hosting, continuous integration, etc - is a standalone piece of software that integrates deeply with the rest of sr.ht and with the rest of the ecosystem outside of sr.ht. For example, you can use builds.sr.ht to compile your GitHub pull requests, or you can keep your repos on git.sr.ht and host everything in one place. Unlike GitHub, which favors its own in-house pull request workflow2, sr.ht embraces and improves upon the email-based workflow favored by git itself, along with many of the more hacker-oriented projects around the net. I’ve put a lot of work into making this powerful workflow more accessible and comprehensible to the average hacker.

The flagship product from sr.ht is its continuous integration platform, builds.sr.ht, which is easily the most capable continuous integration system available today. It’s so powerful that I’ve been working with multiple Linux distributions on bringing them onboard because it’s the only platform which can scale to the automation needs of an entire Linux distribution. It’s so powerful that I’ve been working with maintainers of non-Linux operating systems, from BSD to even Hurd, because it’s the only platform which can even consider supporting their needs. Smaller users are loving it, too, many of whom are jumping ship from Travis and Jenkins in favor of the simplicity and power of builds.sr.ht.

On builds.sr.ht, simple YAML-based build manifests, similar to those you see on other platforms, are used to describe your builds. You can submit these through the web, the API, or various integrations. Within seconds, a virtual machine is booted with KVM, your build environment is sent to it, and your scripts start running. A diverse set of base images are supported on a variety of architectures, soon to include the first hardware-backed RISC-V cycles available to the general public. builds.sr.ht is used to automate everything from the deployment of this Jekyll-based blog, testing GitHub pull requests for sway, building and testing packages for postmarketOS, and deploying complex applications like builds.sr.ht itself. Our base images build, test, and deploy themselves every day.

The lists.sr.ht service is another important part of sr.ht, and a large part of how sr.ht embraces the model used by major projects like Linux, Postgresql, git itself, and many more. lists.sr.ht finally modernizes mailing lists, with a powerful and elegant web interface for hacking on and talking about your projects. Take a look at the sr.ht-dev list to see patches developed for sr.ht itself. Another good read is the mrsh-dev list, used for development on the mrsh project, or my own public inbox, where I take comments for this blog and grab-bag discussions for my smaller projects.

I’ve just scratched the surface, and there’s much more for you to discover. You could look at my scdoc project to get an idea of how the git browser looks and feels. You could browse tickets on my todo.sr.ht profile to get a feel for the bug tracking software. Or you could check out the detailed manual on sr.ht’s git-powered wiki service. You could also just sign up for an account!

sr.ht isn’t complete, but it’s maturing fast and I think you’ll love it. Give it a try, and I’m only an email away to receive your feedback.

  1. Some components use the 3-clause BSD license. 

  2. A model that many have replicated in their own GitHub alternatives. 

Have a comment on one of my posts? Start a discussion in my public inbox by sending an email to ~sircmpwn/public-inbox@lists.sr.ht [mailing list etiquette]