by Swapnil Bhartiya

SourceForge ‘hijacks’ GIMP, wraps it inside ads

May 28, 20153 mins
Open SourceSmall and Medium BusinessWindows

GIMP is not the only project that has abandoned SourceForge, many other major projects have also distanced themselves from the site.

GNU Image Manipulation Program, or GIMP as it’s commonly known, is at loggerheads with SourceForge, once again. GIMP just learned that SourceForge has ‘taken over’ the account of Jernej Simončičwho was maintaining the Windows version of the project.

GIMP posted in their Google+ page:

It appears that +SourceForge took over the control of the ‘GIMP for Windows’ account and is now distributing an ads-enabled installer of GIMP. They also locked out original owner of the account, Jernej Simončič, who has been building the Windows versions of GIMP for our project for years.

So far they haven’t replied to provide explanations. Therefore, we remind you again that GIMP only provides builds for WIndows via its official Downloads page.

SourceForge didn’t stop at taking over the GIMP account and locking Simončič out, they also manipulated the software and wrapped it inside an ad-infested installer. I checked yesterday and it was indeed adware. Unfortunately I didn’t bother to grab a screenshot and I regret it now. Today when I checked, the package had been updated and it’s now ad-free. There is no changelog on SourceForge so I can’t see what changes were made to the package, but I can see that the last update was made today.

I approached SourceForge yesterday about this issue and have not heard from them yet. However they have published a blog post claiming that it was not a ‘hijacking’ attempt:

There has recently been some report that the GIMP-Win project on SourceForge has been hijacked; this project was actually abandoned over 18 months ago, and SourceForge has stepped-in to keep this project current.

That sounds like a nice gesture from the site, but why did GIMP developers ‘actually’ abandon the project in the first place?

The project was abandoned for the very reason it is getting criticism now – adware. The Register quoted the GIMP developer:

As the devs note, that tool “… bundles third-party offers with Free Software packages. We do not want to support this kind of behavior, and have thus decided to abandon SourceForge.”

It’s hard for me, as a free software user and advocate, to see how this helps GIMP or its users. If there is someone who needs GIMP it’s SourceForge for traffic and a stream of revenue through bundleware from projects that don’t want to be part of SourceForge anymore. The only party benefiting from this is SourceForge, as hosting such projects brings them traffic and revenues through bundleware.

Can’t a developer delete the project?

It doesn’t seem possible. I have read the Wiki and there is no documentation on how one can ‘delete’ a project. This is in stark contrast to GitHub where a user can delete entire repository if he/she doesn’t want to host the project on the site for whatever reason.

SourceForge seems like a black hole where once you cross the event horizon there is no return.

What’s even more shocking is that GIMP is not alone. Almost all major open source projects have abandoned their SourceForge projects and the site editors have taken over. All major projects like Firefox, VLC, Banshee, Audacity, Fedora, LibreOffice, etc. have been ‘hijacked’ by SourceForge.

What’s your take on how SourceForge should handle abandoned projects?