Microsoft acquiring GitHub in move to Git in bed with open source, but Bitcoin Core never forgets...

Microsoft -> GitHub

The open source movement was first championed by Linux, for which its creator, Linus Torvalds, originally built the Git platform. GitHub is an online service built entirely around Git. In a surprising takeover, a company traditionally hostile to open source has bought a platform exclusively dedicated to open source software development: the takeover of GitHub by Microsoft announced June 4, 2018. Apparently, GitHub was also negotiating with Google and had previously been offered buyouts by Amazon, Tencent, and Altassian, before signing the deal with Microsoft: GitHub for $7.5 billion.

Retaliatory boycott

In response, lead Bitcoin Core maintainer, Wladimir van der Laan, has called for the eventual removal of Bitcoin repository from GitHub and has already canceled his subscription and made his personal GitHub repo available on the Tor network.

And Bitcoin Core developers are not the only ones advocating for a retaliatory boycott of GitHub; there has already been a mass #movingtogitlab exodus from GitHub, only days after the announcement. One of the biggest names in open source, GNOME, has announced its already completed the transition to GitLab.

As a direct result of the news, GitLab has seen a ten-fold increase in GitHub migrations since the announcement and is attempting to capitalize by temporarily offering new users a 75% discount on yearly repository fees. Apparently, the site is doing its best to handle the recent influx of users, but was already "painfully slow" before the news and can be expected to experience more scaling issues with an increasing user-base. Another potential alternative for migrating devs may be Keybase.


Implications for Bitcoin

Another Bitcoin developer, Jimmy Song, points out that GitHub has become so pervasively used by developers because "it's so massively, freaking convenient," citing the code checking, testing, merging, commenting, reviewing, and issue tracking services it offers contributors. Yet despite the usefulness of the current services it provides, GitHub is by no means a vital service to Bitcoin Core or most other crypto-currency repositories.

But does the takeover compromise the security of the Bitcoin Core repository? No. Wladimir explains, "mandatory GPG commit signing prevents, say, github, from injecting code changes, undetected. They could certainly mess with reviewing though." Bitcoin Core has long been prepared for the failure of GitHub:

And Bitcoin Core's second most active contributor, Pieter Wuille, has stated: "While I believe we should always consider other options, and would support in the long term moving to other infrastructure, I don't believe there is an issue here," citing the GPG signing procedure, repository mirrors, and binary distribution via

In the short term, the takeover of GitHub by Microsoft may pose some inconvenience for Bitcoin Core if they proceed with the boycott; however, in the long run, it will only serve to purge yet another centralized source of failure from the Bitcoin protocol stack and make the network even more decentralized and further hardened against hostile takeover.

Never forget

Likely a major contributing factor to the general strong dislike and mistrust of Microsoft by prominent open source developers remains the corporation's prior attitude towards open source—summed up by 14 year long Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer: "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches." To be fair, under the current leadership of Satya Nadella, Microsoft has made concerted efforts to become more friendly to open source and, ironically, is the only tech giant to accept payment in bitcoin in its online stores.

If there's one lesson to be learned from all this, it's that the open source movement has a very long memory. Other major corporate, governmental, and regulatory powers may be wise to stay on good terms with the open source movement, Bitcoin, and decentralized cryptocurrencies in general. As the power and influence of decentralized currencies continue to accelerate at breakneck speed, it may not be long before the present powers that be may come to regret any attempts at suppression.

When asked for comment on the situation, @Microsoft and @github did not respond:

After all, what do big corporate powers care about the opinions of humble Bitcoin advocates?

It shall certainly be interesting to see where the Microsoft, GitHub duo go from here...


Feature image source:


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@landonmutch — traveling, trailer-dwelling, software developer, writer, geologist, autodidact, traditional hacker, subversive, Bitcoin maximalist, contributor to Lightning Network protocol.

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