Nowadays people only know github, some people know gitlab, some people know bitbucket (mercurial) but other than that people seem to have forgotten there were others as well. I know about freshmeat and few others but still feel the knowledge about early source-code repositories is woefully incomplete. I looked at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Open-source_software_hosting_facilities and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_open-source_software_hosting_facilities but didn't get any info. about the early attempts. Even search-engines like google, yahoo and others failed or perhaps my google fu is not so good anymore. So my question is :-

Does anybody know with dates (partial info can be got by using whois) the early public source repositories, their background and why they didn't work out. Looking for people who worked on FOSS since the early 80's or thereabouts.This was the time when RMS started GNU.org so looking for free software repositories (primarily all sort of Unixes software with copyleft licenses.)

Update:- While I have used that as the answer but the truth is probably further past in the history. In the comments somebody has shared existence of ftp repositories which were far before the existence of sourceforge.net .

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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is not about unix or linux. – Patrick Nov 2 '14 at 20:06
  • you are right, where do you think its rightful place would be ? Stackoverflow or one of the other stack sites ? – shirish Nov 2 '14 at 20:11
  • If you edit in something about *nix related ("I am thinking primarily of *nix based software, but anything is fine..."), you might dodge the [on hold], since there probably is not any better place for this on S.E. Maybe SuperUser. – goldilocks Nov 2 '14 at 20:21
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    By "repository", do you mean only version controlled repository or would that include source tarball repository? Early version control systems doesn't use client-server architecture, but rather they only work locally, the rise of centralised version control system with CVS in the early 1990s coincided with the rise of the WWW. – Lie Ryan Nov 3 '14 at 0:44
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    1992: CTAN, 1993: CPAN, both still alive and kicking. – Ulrich Schwarz Nov 3 '14 at 7:19

knowledge about early source-code repositories is woefully incomplete

According to the SourceForge wikipedia page:

SourceForge, founded in 1999 by VA Software, was the first provider of a centralized location for free and open-source software developers to control and manage software development and offering this service for free.

It's certainly the first one I remember, although it needs to be qualified more to make it really true; as Ulrich Schwarz mentions, CPAN and CTAN were online long before that and (the former, at least) allowed for public uploading.

If you want to count GNU as a sort of an umbrella organization for various independent projects, they and the FSF have been providing online hosting a lot longer than sourceforge; I seem to remember a lot of it being FTP only. You could not just ask (via public interfaces) for and be given resources there, though, so it is a somewhat one sided affair. Presumably you'd have to contact the right people and jump through hoops.

You will probably be interested in this answer about the linux kernel regarding the VCS situation (as far as open source public software goes) in the early 90's.

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  • +1 for mentionning Sourceforge (I was there early enough to get my 'anthon' as my login) – Anthon Nov 2 '14 at 20:17
  • the answer you have pointed to is a history question I asked few days back. Have there been others source repos. which people might know would add to the answer. – shirish Nov 2 '14 at 20:21
  • Ah, I didn't check the names ;) As with Linus people tended to host their own stuff in the form of tarball releases. As the internet has gotten fancier perhaps people have been less keen to do that. I've added a paragraph about GNU/the FSF above too. – goldilocks Nov 2 '14 at 20:32
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    I don't agree that SoureForge can be considered the first repository of open source software. Note that I don't disagree with the Wikipedia quote: it's saying something different, about software developers controlling and managing. For the first repositories, you have to look way before the existence of the WWW. Consider well-known FTP software archives like ftp.cs.uiuc.edu and prep.ai.mit.edu and many others. – Celada Nov 2 '14 at 23:29
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    "Pre-internet" Perhaps you mean pre-web. I used the internet in the 80's. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Nov 3 '14 at 0:06

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