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I've been wondering why most Ubuntu projects use Launchpad.net instead of GitHub for the Version Control and bug tracking system. Is there a specific reason as to why Ubuntu uses launchpad (and hence bzr)?

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let's see: Ubuntu is sponsored by Canonical, Launchpad is sponsered by Canonical, Bazaar is sponsored by Canonical. Do you see the thread? –  steabert Mar 26 '11 at 11:23
Reason I asked this is because I've been asked this by a lot of people who would like to contribute, they've already got an account on one of those other services, but they don't want to 1. Learn another VC system, as well as 2. Have another account online, and I'm SICK AND TIRED of answering with "I don't know". So this is partly to preserve my own sanity (Since they drive me nuts with "Why can't I use GitHub?"), as well as answer peoples questions, since I know people are going to ask. –  jrg Mar 26 '11 at 11:28
Tell them that every project chooses it's development model and where it wants to be hosted. Many are still hosted at Gitorius and many on Sourceforge and many on Google Code –  Manish Sinha Mar 26 '11 at 12:59
Do remember that branches can be hosted externally. (Github is possible, but I use Google Code) –  hexafraction Aug 10 '12 at 16:17
Close-voters: To the extent to which this question is even subjective at all, it's the good kind. This can be, and has been, answered with good answers that, to the extent to which they express opinions, back up those opinions robustly with facts. "Primarily opinion-based" is for questions like "What's the best text editor for general programming (no other specific requirements)?" –  Eliah Kagan Aug 21 at 13:38

5 Answers 5

up vote 67 down vote accepted

This list contains the reasons why it did not use back then and why it should not move now

  • Lauchpad used bazaar which was developed long back. Github did not exist that time (as Robin said) Launchpad was launched in 2004 and Github in 2008

  • Github is not open source. Gitorious would be a better choice in this case. I know Launchpad was not FOSS initially, but it was released later

  • Initially Github did not have many features which Launchpad had, like teams. Github does not have a build system integrated with it, like PPA

  • Many projects in Launchpad heavily make use of the "Merge request" functionality which has very basic support in Github. It is called "Pull request" but Launchpad has better features and more detailed than Github

  • Github's Bug Tracker is next to useless. My pet project for a bug tracker might be more useful

  • Launchpad is owned by Canonical and they pay the developers. They have the complete control over their product.

  • Github uses Git for tracking releases using branches and tags. In Launchpad, which uses bzr also has this feature, but Launchpad explicitly enforces this outside the source control system. This would be a bit more easier for people who have to handle versions but don't want to dig inside the source code.

Just a small note: Github vs. Launchpad and git vs. bzr is sort of religious topic. I want to stay away from this endless discussion. I use which fits the use-case.

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Why you can't discuss a pull request on github? You can, there are comments and code review enabled. –  vissi Mar 26 '11 at 13:39
+1 for showing why it is better by providing facts! –  Octavian Damiean Mar 26 '11 at 14:29
Upvoted for this comment: "Github vs. Launchpad and git vs. bzr is sort of religious topic." –  jrg Mar 26 '11 at 16:25
I'll add translations, blueprints, and answers. Also, the very powerful API that LP provides. –  Nigel Mar 26 '11 at 18:04
You could have also mentioned the fact that Launchpad natively supports package uploads to distributions (not PPAs), which github doesn't. –  Bilal Akhtar Mar 26 '11 at 19:24

I guess the simple answer is that Launchpad does a lot of stuff that other systems don't (and this was even more true back when Ubuntu started using Launchpad).

Some examples:

  • A bug tracker that lets you track bugs in multiple contexts (e.g. a bug that affects multiple packages, or affects both a package and its upstream, or the same package in multiple distributions).
  • A web based translation tool.
  • A tool to manage the package archive and build binary packages for the various supported architectures.

While code hosting is an important feature of Launchpad, it is not the only one and it wasn't the first feature Ubuntu used.

As for upstream projects related to Ubuntu, there are benefits to using the same system as Ubuntu itself. Just one example is tracking bugs in both upstream and packaged contexts.

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+1 for bringing up the point of tracking bugs in multiple packages, distros and upstream too. As I said in my context, github's bugtracker is not fit even for pet-projects, leave for real-size projects. –  Manish Sinha Mar 26 '11 at 15:31

I actually think it's more like "why do they use bzr, and hence launchpad"? Canonical invested money and people into developing bzr and its precursor baz, long before GitHub existed, and they probably don't want to throw away all of that accumulated expertise and investment now. Indeed, baz was started before git existed.

Also, with Launchpad being controlled by them, they can more easily add features that make sense for them - whereas GitHub is not even open source, and certainly not under their control!

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Zed Shaw covered this topic very well in a recent blog post, Launchpad vs. Github/SysAdmin vs. Coder.

I saw this blog post by lvh asking the simple question, "Why do people hate launchpad so much?" It was something I also wondered until I started tinkering with forking NetBSD pkgsrc and went to research various package managers. When I was going through all the various package managers I finally realized that the difference between Launchpad and Github is actually the difference between System Administrators and Software Developers.

I don't entirely agree with his assessments of Launchpad's features outside of code management. As a developer, I do prefer Github's repo view, but Launchpad's bug tracker is far, far superior to Github's.

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Github's bug tracker is not even suitable for projects which are put up just for a joke. Secondly, Ubuntu cannot use github as the features needed to build the OS is not present there. No PPA, horrible bug management, no release versioning etc. –  Manish Sinha Apr 1 '11 at 18:18
@manishSinha Githubs bug tracker is very nice now. ) –  jrg Jun 7 '11 at 23:46
@James I checked it again. Pretty much useless. It's Pull Request feature has matured a lot though. –  Manish Sinha Jun 8 '11 at 9:36
@James Yes, for us it would work, but for projects of size of Ubuntu it is next to useless. –  Manish Sinha Jun 9 '11 at 8:32
@Manish That is true. There is a certain point when things get so big that they need special tools to work right. –  jrg Jun 18 '11 at 11:32

is github's bugtracking system still elementary? I think it covers quite a lot now using Milestones+Labels+Issues? Eg you can nest multiple projects and have them reference the subproject.

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