GitLab plans to remove inactive projects from free accounts • The Register
Exclusive GitLab plans to automatically delete projects if they’ve been inactive for a year and are owned by users in its free tier.
The register learned that these projects account for up to a quarter of GitLab’s hosting costs, and that automatically deleting projects could save the cloud coding collaboration service up to $1 million a year. The policy was therefore suggested to help GitLab’s finances remain viable.
People familiar with the situation, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss it with the media, said The register the policy is expected to come into effect in September 2022.
GitLab is aware of the potential for furious opposition to the plan, and will therefore give users weeks or months of warning before deleting their work. A single comment, commit or new issue posted on a project during a 12 month period will be enough to keep the project alive.
The register understands that some members of the wider GitLab community are concerned that the policy will see projects disappear before users have a chance to check in the code they rely on. As many open source projects are widely used, it is feared that the decision will have a considerable negative impact.
Geoff Huntley, Gitpod engineer, open source advocate and .Net open community member, described the policy as “absolutely wild.”
“The source code doesn’t take up a lot of disk space,” he said. The register. “For someone to remove all this code is the destruction of the community. They will destroy their brand and their goodwill.”
“People host their code there because there’s this idea that it will be available to the general public to reuse and remix,” he added. “Of course, there’s no guarantee that it will always be hosted there, but the unwritten rules of open source are that you make the code available and you don’t delete it.”
“We’ve had maintainers pull code and there’s been huge community outrage over that,” he said, pointing out that other projects that depend on a removed product will suffer.
“Not all dependencies can compile,” he lamented.
Huntley also took issue with whether a repo can be considered inactive.
“Software is written and then it’s done. When you reach a point of perfection, does that make it inactive?”
GitLab’s free tier offers 5 GB of storage, 10 GB of data transfers, and 400 CI/CD minutes per month, plus five users per namespace. The biz openly promotes its free tier as a tool for recruiting and retaining customers.
“Happy, loyal free users become GitLab advocates, which drives more users and strengthens our brand,” the company’s pricing model says. “We often see GitLab users for personal projects and then become internal champions to get their employers to buy GitLab. This personal use -> cross-organizational use and bottom-up growth cannot happen without our free product.”
The pricing model document also states, “Free users increase our total user base, and a large user base makes third-party tools/APIs/integrations more likely to support GitLab, grow our ecosystem, and support GitLab. ‘raise the status of our platform’, and suggest that free users lower customer acquisition costs.
Still, the company plans to gently discourage some use of the free product, with cost control as the primary goal.
The register contacted GitLab several times for policy comment. The company did not respond to our requests. If we receive a substantial response, we will update this story. ®