Saturday, 4 July 2009

Finding removed content on Sourceforge

Sourceforge is filled with noise. Projects that were created and never started, projects that were started but never really taken anywhere and in general just such a mass of projects that searching there for new and interesting ones is too much effort. Occasionally, someone will mention an interesting project hosted there and that's pretty much the only way I go to sourceforge these days.

While casually browsing through the Flipcode archive for articles related to software rendering, I stumbled across a reference to a project called 'sw-shader'. At some stage, the open source project was cleaned out when the technology was sold to TransGaming where it was improved and released as SwiftShader. None of the downloadable source code archives or binaries once made available by the project were available any more, and the homepage set to redirect to the SwiftShader page at TransGaming.

This isn't the first project that has "gone dark" on sourceforge. Another is 'flux3d', a project for the FluxPlayer source code. And another was for the Elephant versioning file system, although I cannot remember the name of its project.

In the past, you used to be able to go to a sourceforge server where tarballs were automatically generated for all projects and find a snapshot of a project's CVS repository. This seems to have gone the way of the dodo. You also used to be able to go to a sourceforge server where the files made available for download by a project (removed or not) could be browsed. This appears to also have gone the way of the dodo. Sourceforge claim that data is not deleted, only hidden, yet it seems almost impossible to locate that hidden data, where it was trivial before.

Please note that data that users or administrators "delete" from the site is merely hidden, but retained for perpetuity. It is not necessary to restore this data if flagged as deleted; contact us for assistance.
One of the sourceforge mirrors is browsable as a folder hierarchy of downloadable project files. As can be seen in the given link, no files are present for the 'sw-shader' project. '' cannot be connected to either, so that is a false lead.

Eventually I found a link to another mirror where sourceforge project files are accessible, one that contains all files, hidden or not. Files are available for the softwire project and the sw-shader project. Also for the flux3d project. I have no idea whether there were ever checkins to the CVS repositories.

It's not the most ideal solution. It used to be so much easier to track these things down. It's possible that I could contact sourceforge and ask, but I wanted to see whether I could track down what I wanted without the break in attention span that the delay involved in that contact would cause.


  1. Hi, I'm the developer of swShader and Softwire, and the lead developer of SwiftShader. Indeed when all the rights were sold to TransGaming we decided to remove as much from Sourceforge as possible. This was to attempt to avoid any further development on the open-source projects, which would have severely damaged the commercial potential of SwiftShader.

    In my own defense, there was never any commit to the projects other then my own. And making a commercial spin-off allowed it to become something much bigger. SwiftShader 2.0 is far more advanced than swShader and is practically a full rewrite.

    Anyway, if you want the swShader code we'd be more than happy to e-mail it to anyone asking for it. It's obviously still available under the original license. For a long time it was available on Sourceforge's backup servers but apparently it dissapeared.

  2. Hi Nicolas,

    The post wasn't about your projects going dark, I think you're entirely within your rights to do that.

    I'm more interested in knowing how to track down hidden files on Sourceforge, and was disappointed by how it was no longer so easy. I should really follow up with Sourceforge and see if there is an easier way.