|14 Potential Alternatives to SourceForge for Binary Downloads|
|October 18, 2014|
14 Potential Alternatives to SourceForge for Binary Downloads
Updated on 22/07/2015:
added new cons due to the "hijacking" and added a misconception section to explain why people are falsely accusing SourceForge over "fake dowload buttons" and why the "hijacking" isn't hijacking.
I've seen a lot of articles from people saying that I "should look for alternatives to SourceForge" for distributing binaries for my Open Source projects. These articles make really good arguments and point a very dim light on SourceForge's download practices. Many of the reasons these articles provide are very valid reasons to look for an alternative, such as SourceForge forces users to a Download Page that serves ads and have at times displayed FAKE "Download Now" buttons that are actually just ads. Another reason for finding an alternative is that SourceForge has started bundling their own installer with downloads (opt-in), this installer contains adware and tactics to trick people into installing things like irritating toolbars. In some cases the installer uses third party servers that SourceForge doesn't have control over so this could be looked at as a massive security hole.
The DevShare Program is not listed as a Con in this article because there is one very big aspect to the DevShare Program that people seem to miss entirely, and that is the program is OPT-IN. SourceForge will NOT force the installer onto projects, the projects have to want it and have to voluntarily add themselves to the DevShare program so yes this can be an issue but it is more the fault of the projects themselves than SourceForge because SourceForge does not force this at all. The link I provided above explains in the last paragraph that it is Opt-In so no one should be hating on SourceForge for this because it isn't a requirement and therefore isn't a reason to not use the service.
All of these articles make great points but they also all do the exact same irritating useless ending...they tell you to "find an alternative" but never actually give options or even compare the different services to find out if there are any alternatives or not. I started researching this topic about 6 months ago and now I'm writing this article to take a look at 14 potential alternatives to using SourceForge for Binary Distribution. I was able to create this list thanks to the website AlternativeTo.net as well as found a few services independently from altTo.
- Reigning & Defending Champion -
SourceForge offers both Version Control tools and Binary Downloads so they are the all in one option if someone is looking for that but the part that makes SourceForge the reigning Champion of Binary Downloads for Open Source projects is the extensively detailed statistics available for your projects that go as deep as each individual file.
- Contenders -
BinTray - #1 Contender (Alternative? Almost, but not quite)
BinTray is the only specifically binary downloads hosting service I could find other than SourceForge so of all the potential alternatives BinTray seems to be the closest option as a replacement. Unfortunately, BinTray is excessively restricted for the amount of files you can upload and the size of the files making it completely useless to some projects. BinTray also suffers from a terrible setup Content Structure that makes it hard to figure out how to setup the projects in order to even upload files, and once you do have files uploaded you still have to figure out how to associate them as "downloads" because that is not automatic.
CodePlex by Microsoft - #2 Contender (Alternative? Maybe for some but NO for me)
CodePlex is a source control solution provided by Microsoft and because of it being a Microsoft product I really didn't want to give it any credit at all. However, CodePlex is fairly good and is the only other alternative that provides Historical Download Statistics so it earned a spot as #2 Contender. The statistical information provided by CodePlex is no where near as in depth and useful as SourceForge but at least they put some effort into it unlike most of the other options.
The rest of the contenders don't even come close...
Assembla - (Alternative? NO)
Assembla is not an alternative because it restricts you to 1 Project per Account making it not really an option in the first place but the fact that I tried to signup and it autologged me in...but when I clicked anything it autologged me out and wouldn't allow me to login again is not a good sign. They also never sent me an email to confirm the account or anything so the registration is broken thus making me not interested in testing it any further.
Bitbucket - (Alternative? Maybe for some, but NO for me)
Bitbucket is a big name in version control hosting for open source projects and it should be because it provides a very good solution/service but unfortunately, it lacks in the Binary Downloads section.
Codebase - (Alternative? NO)
Codebase is not an alternative because their Free Account is limited to only 1 Project and 50MB file storage, so testing ended there.
Freepository - (Alternative? NO)
There doesn't seem to be a way to even register to this site so obviously not an alternative.
GitHub - (Alternative? Maybe for some, but NO for me)
GitHub is a fantastic solution for source code hosting and for version control using Git but unfortunately GitHub deprecated their Binary Downloads service in December, 2012 and while they did create a Releases system to replace it they are not even remotely close in features so it makes GitHub no longer a practical alternative.
GitLab - (Alternative? NO)
GitLab is a great project allowing you to host your own Git Version Control system for your private code on your own servers. They don't offer binary downloads via GitLab but they don't need to because if you are going to be hosting it yourself there are already plenty of great options for this. This article is for Free Services based around Open Source Software projects so GitLab is not applicable.
Gitorious - (Alternative? NO)
Gitorious is not an alternative for Binary Downloads because it doesn't offer any binary downloads, it only offers "master branch" downloads.
Google Code Hosting - (Alternative? NO)
Google Code used to be an alternative when they offered the ability to upload binaries for download but they have deprecated this feature. Google Code now requires files to be uploaded to Google Drive for downloads and these Google Drive downloads do not offer Binary Download Tracking at all. [source]
Launchpad - (Alternative? NO)
Launchpad offers binary downloads via PPAs but these downloads are basically only useful if your project relates to Ubuntu in someway. Launchpad is not really meant to be an alternative in SourceForge in the general sense, it is more of a Version Control System for projects related specifically to Ubuntu packages so it is not applicable to this article.
ProjectLocker - (Alternative? NO)
ProjectLocker is not an alternative because their Free Account is limited to only 1 Project and 50MB file storage, so testing ended there.
Ubirimi - (Alternative? NO)
Ubirimi claims to offer Free Accounts to users of Open Source projects but when you try to create an account they insist on collecting credit card information which doesn't sit well with me so my testing for this service ended before could really even begin.
Unfuddle - (Alternative? NO)
Unfuddle is not an alternative because it does not offer free accounts to Open Source projects, so testing ended there.
The Winner and STILL Binary Downloads Champion...
I know not everyone cares about the statistical information but I think it is a very important aspect of providing binary downloads so that is why SourceForge is still the reigning champion of the space. If you don't care about stats and can deal with the filesize restrictions of the other options then feel free to use anything else, such as BinTray, BitBucket, Codeplex, or Github, but if you do want the statistical data and the unlimited storage then there really is only one choice.
What do you think of my assessment and the results of this roundup?
Please, let me know in the comments below.