Starting from today, GitHub is offering unlimited free repositories – at no charge – on their public cloud (github dot com).
It’s good for those who have a side-project and they want to keep it private; those who want to keep files private and those who want to hide a project before they make it public. On the other hand, it’s quite common to think that the only advantage of GitHub is the high exposure to public projects (and in private projects there are great alternatives as you will see below).
In my opinion, this move is a reaction to stop the drift of user abandonment (many left in the last year to GitLab since the company was acquired by Microsoft), and possibly towards a future change in which Microsoft will require GitHub users to work on Azure
In the new mode, the difference between the common tools, in the cloud version, is as of today:
- At GitHub, as mentioned, there’s no limit on the number of free users
- GitLab has no limit on the number of free users
- Bitbucket has up to 5 free users
All the tools offer private repositories with no quantitative limitation of repos, and GitLab offers the most generous repo volume (up to 10GB of free storage per repo.) GitHub has a maximum limit of 1GB and Bitbucket up to 2GB.
Here’s a summary of differences in offering on public cloud and free tier:
|Max repo size (GB)
|Max file size (MB)
|Max API calls per hour (per client)
|Unlimited (up to repo size)
|Unlimited (up to repo size)
Besides, GitLab also offers (at no charge) a built-in and mature CI/CD tool (so your SCM and CI work tightly together) plus the following:
- Protected branches in private repositories
- Draft PRs in private repos
- GitHub Pages in private repos (using one)
- Wikis in private repos
- Entire DevOps lifecycle
Recently I read some reviews from around the world for the move, and many expressed concern that “if you get something for free, you become the product” and the old fear that public repositories are being hacked from time to time (such as DDOS attacks or users who mistakenly converted private repositories to public). Many answered that if the fear is solid, then it is always possible to build such a private server, and even for free (with GitLab).
A recent survey conducted by JetBrains (2019) shows a year-to-year growth of GitLab:
Referring to private server / On-premises / self-hosted versions, it seems that the competition has been decided and all the surveys over the last two years show that at least 70% of new projects – especially by companies and organizations that develop software – choose GitLab (slides and links to surveys can be found on our blog).
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Tamir Gefen is the founder and CEO of ALM-Toolbox.
ALM-Toolbox provides professional services, managed services, support, private /public cloud hosting, training and licenses for all the tools mentioned above, besides many other DevOps tools like git, Kubernetes, Rancher, Docker, Jenkins, Sysdig, Jira, Terraform, Vault, Grafana, Mattermost, Slack, Prometheus, SonarQube, Snyk, Fossa, Artifactory, Nexus, White Source, ClearCase, ClearQuest and more.