Dec 9

Free Git/SVN hosting providers

During my recent presentation at the Joomla! Developers Conference in New York, I emphasised the importance of using a version control system (in particular SVN) to maintain copies of everything. From PSD versions of designs and templates to more traditional items like source code, some form of a version control system is what you need to do. If you’re working in an organisation where you need to collaborate with more than one person then version control tools provide valuable collaboration and consistency controls. Another interesting aspect of hosted repositories is backups – not only do these systems keep different versions of your data but if you use them properly you’ve also got a backup for if your machine gets toasted. During my presentation I used CVSDude as an example. CVSDude is a local Australian company run out of Brisbane which is why they stick in mind but there are other tools.

Firstly I’ll do a quick overview of the two main systems being promoted: Git and SVN. SVN, or Subversion, was developed as a newer version of CVS. Subversion has been referred as a “code wiki” which I feel is a great explanation. It keeps versions of files around for you and ensures you’ve got everything in hand. Subversion is a centralised source control system, so you need a central server to run it on for different people (you can also run it on your own machine as well but there is only one point of truth). Git is a distributed version control system where basically every working copy has a full copy of the tree. This is great for pure source projects and a few other sorts where having everything on disk isn’t too bad but doesn’t work well when you have larger repositories and files that you might want to share. Git doesn’t permit partial checkouts as well so you get the entire repository or nothing. This can work in your favour (you can do stuff like commits locally and do history checking locally) or against you (it might be a chunky repository). Git repositories typically are more compressed and smaller than SVN however Git’s Windows tools leave a lot to be desired. If you’re working with people who aren’t technical, Git can be painful and I’d suggest Subversion. Both are a learning curve but Subverion’s is easier and the centralised control is useful for most projects.

Provider A: GitHub
GitHub are one of the most popular Git hosting sites out there for open source projects as well as being a commercial hosting provider with “private” repositories. For people who are doing open source projects and interested in using Git, GitHub with its 300MB disk space (expandable for open source projects) and unlimited public repositories and collaborators is perhaps the most powerful option in the Git sphere. It is also all backed up as well, like most of the options, so you’ve got some peace of mind there. GitHub have personal and business branches offering different “private” hosting options starting at five private repositories consuming 600MB with one additional collaborator for $7 per month. The plans go somewhat incrementally up from there adding disk space, private repositories and private collaborators. GitHub has a wiki as an option as some point as well as a private/public pastebin service.

Check out GitHub’s pricing at

Provider B: Unfuddle
Unfuddle is something I’ve just come across after my presentation on a recommendation from someone at the conference. Unfuddle offers both Git and SVN support as well as a form of a wiki in what appears to be “Notebook pages”. It limits you to one active project but features RSS and iCal support as well as bug tracking, milestones and in the free version support for two people to collaborate. The free version offers 200MB and more expensive versions have file attachments, SSL and time tracking as well as more disk space, active and archived projects, people and unlimited “notebook pages”.

Check out Unfuddle’s pricing at

Provider C: CVSDude
CVSDude are a much older group who offered initially CVS hosting but recently handle Subversion. They support Trac which a popular development support tool that integrates with Subversion providing milestone support, issue tracking and integration (e.g. you can close tickets from SVN) and a wiki. CVSDude appears to be slightly below par with GitHub with their cheapest plan offering 500MB of storage, one project and two users (as opposed to five projects and 600MB from GitHub). They also appear to offer Bugzilla, a popular bug tracking software (perhaps they didn’t like Trac’s version or have disabled it?) as well as DAV storage whatever that means. CVSDude does emphasise that they have better backup facilities than others offer plus the Trac/Bugzilla instance provides more functionality than GitHub does. CVSDude annoyingly hides a lot of information behind marketing so you need to do a lot of reading to work out what they’re really selling for each option.

Their overview page serves as an entry point for finding more information, check it out at

Provider D: GForge Group (and JoomlaCode)
GForge Group appear to offer free one project per person hosting on their stack with a 75MB space offering. You can add up to five people to the project and it is a private project. GForge offers a wiki, mailing lists, forum, file release system, tracker and a few other tools as well. It has the interesting caveat that if you don’t log in for 30 days your project will be permanently deleted. GForge are selling a stand-alone product more than anything so they’re encouraging you to head that way with that however as an item it is an interesting. It looks like you can add to it however their store link didn’t appear to be working properly. JoomlaCode is powered by GForge AS and offers many of the same features (version control currently limited to SVN though GForge AS supports CVS and GIT amongst other things). JoomlaCode’s hosting is free for GPL non-commercial Joomla! related projects and is offered as a service to the community.

Check out for more details.

Provider E: PixelNovel
PixelNovel is another host I’ve just seen today that offer a tool for Adobe Photoshop that integrates Subversion straight into the tool. This means that you don’t need to jump out of the system to handle it and it also does previews of the Photoshop files for you for when you’re going back in time. The standalone Photoshop plugin will work with seemingly any Subversion repository and costs around $60 per licence though it would appear you can pick up a free copy with a PixelNovel account which offers 100MB for nothing and goes up from there.

Check out their pricing and plans at

As with everything before you hand over cash, code or templates read the fine print. Though it doesn’t say it outright, PixelNovel for example will delete your account after two months of inactivity or lack of bill payment and GForge have similar albeit much more upfront text. Some services offer SLA’s on performance and uptime guarantees where as others don’t whilst some mention backups in a very definite time frame (I think CVSDude offers 10 minute backups) and others mention that they do it without many details. Some also offer more tools than the others and PixelNovel has some specialised tools targeted at designers particularly. As with everything the devil is in the detail so good luck checking things out and make a decision based on your own personal needs.


4 Comments so far

  1. rs December 9th, 2009 7:58 pm

    Have a look at as well – it has Subversion hosting (paid + free accounts) and packed with features.

    Git support will be coming soon real shortly.

  2. Spacemonkey December 10th, 2009 1:03 am

    Hosted is great, but don’t forget how powerful Redmine can be if you wanted to run it on your own systems. Redmine gives you much more than any of the hosted offerings above in raw features, and you can add plugins to suit your specific needs.

    Just sayin’ 🙂

    It was great finally meeting you in meatspace.

  3. pasamio December 10th, 2009 1:33 am

    @rs: cool, another one for the list – I think I’ve only scratched the surface

    @spacemonkey: I was more aiming at the ones who aren’t entirely comfortable setting up an environment where hosted services would give them a managed service that they don’t have to. Will have to checkout redmine myself. And yes, great to see you in the “real world”.

  4. Guy December 10th, 2009 2:58 am

    @pasamio: Thanks for the mention! CVSDude has been offering SVN since SVN was released in 2004 (and CVS since 2002). Our mission is to make open source software- specifically version control- drop dead simple and secure to use in a hosted environment. We’re rolling out git shortly, which will plug in to our same SaaS provisioning and security framework.

    @spacemonkey: We’re Redmine fans and use it ourselves- please contact us from link on our homepage and let’s discuss…

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