In particular, this blog post is a direct response to forge-net ForgeFed (formerly known as GitPub). They want to federate and decentralize git using ActivityPub, the same technology leveraged by Mastodon and PeerTube. But get this: git is already federated and decentralized!


These articles ignore the main reasons people use github (or any git host), things like:

  • Project discovery
  • Issue tracking - by far the most important thing that is not built into git.
  • Watching / favoriting
  • Having a project readme as a publicly available homepage.
  • Publicly available git history, not something I have to join a mailing list for.

These are the things an activitypub git host would help to decentralize. Yes git has some helper tools around being able to send your commits over email, but it replaces none of the features above.


… not to mention setting up a public-facing server with a domain and HTTPs to test federation with other implementations.

AP requires messages to be signed (crypto) and transferred over TLS; this is not a disadvantage compared to unverified plain text e-mail! Somehow signing emails has never worked in practice for most people, having this enforced on protocol level is a good thing. Said that a better test tools for AP are badly needed.

Also good email clients that can send plain text emails are hard to come by, let alone dedicated Git workflow support. Google has dominated peoples minds where “e-mail” == “GMail”. While I like what he is saying, e-mail needs work to get there for wide adoption of this use case. E-mail having been around for so long and not evolving, I am doubtful it can work as well as many people would be used to for this work flows.

Drew compares ancient technology with the new and comes to surprising conclusion that the new stuff is not as mature… well the only way for it to mature it to use it and evolve it with time. If we were to reject anything new just because it is not old then we cannot have progress. We need to move on from e-mail as time shows that it cannot evolve (for some reason) and it has serious issues.

I am not sure AP is the way to go for Git but having alternative way tried and tested is not a bad thing. Also see other attempts like using SSB protocol.

Disclosure: I am happy user of Drew’s service and I support his work.


Also good email clients that can send plain text emails are hard to come by

What are some good email clients that don’t support plaintext?

Maybe this ( is out of date, but the list includes conventional clients:

  • Gmail
  • macOS mail
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Protonmail
  • Thunderbird
  • Tutanota

as well as many other more geeky ones.

I am reminded of this:

Today, I discovered this article, “Relying on plain-text email is a ‘barrier to entry’ for kernel development, says Linux Foundation board member”, a title which conveniently chooses to refer to Sarah Novotny by her role as a Linux Foundation board member, rather than by her full title, “Sarah Novotny, Microsoft employee, transitive owner of GitHub, and patroness saint of conflicts of interests.” Finally, they’re playing the extinguish card. Naturally, a representative of Microsoft, a company which has long waged war against open source, and GitHub, a company which explicitly built an incompatible proprietary system to extend git, would have an interest in dismantling the distributed, open system that git was designed for

in response to

Relying on plain-text email is a ‘barrier to entry’ for kernel development, says Linux Foundation board member


Thanks for the link with e-mail clients! One day I was trying to send text mail from Android (to test mailing list) and nothing could do it but I see K-9 on the list so should be doable with more effort.

Personally I think HTML emails are a joke and I am happy to see this efforts… but this is where the mainstream is right now. When we are talking about GitHub we are talking about main stream. There is no way on earth that most devs will start using e-mail for git, but also Microsoft will never eradicate that use and many aware developers will happily use e-mail in this way.

This is like with Mastodon, it won’t replace Twitter but it is an important network for many people and has a right and space to exist and we should protect this spaces from the toxic likes of Microsoft.


Evolution, Claws Mail and Sylpheed support plain text emails too.


An interesting campaign for that:


Agreed there is friction for mainstream users to use plaintext email… there’s no surveillance money in it, so why encourage it. I was just responding literally to the claim that clients capable of sending plaintext weren’t widely available. There’s something to be said for seamless tech but it’s a shame how much privacy we pay for it.

This is a community dedicated to discussing technical details related to ActivityPub. It is not for discussing the Fediverse, although discussion on that topic is fine if it somehow relates to the AP protocol itself.

We welcome developers familiar with the protocol!