In November 2023, something happened to OSDN, which had been hosting the Tsukurimashou Project. Here is a chart of traffic from our Matomo analytics covering the period. There is a gap from 16 November 2023 to 18 January 2024, although a couple of visits did register during that period, suggesting that either the site was up for brief intervals, or people were connecting to cached copies, the Wayback Machine, or similar, and triggering the analytics scripts that way. (The analytics server itself has always been on non-OSDN hardware, so it wouldn't've gone down just because the site did.)

Plot of daily traffic showing a gap from 16 November 2023 to 18 January 2024

The traffic starting in January 2024 after the gap, is on the new site, tsukurimashou.org, where I'm posting this note; the old site on OSDN, tsukurimashou.osdn.jp, appears to be permanently unreachable.

November 2023 was a terrible time for this to happen; I had a lot of other things on my plate and it has taken me until now, February 2024, to put the pieces together and figure out what happened, digging back several years into history that I was unaware of at the time it was happening.

Historical background of OSDN

There was a site called SourceForge, founded in 1999 by VA Software. It provided central services for free software development projects, including things like Web pages, download mirrors, version control hosting (primarily based on SVN, which was popular during the 2000s), discussion mailing lists, and so on. SourceForge was largely English-language and US-based, but had significant international presence including some localized sites in other countries. In particular, VA Software's Japanese subsidiary started "SourceForge.JP" in 2002 (Japanese-language link). The name "OSDN" apparently was originally the name of the division within VA Japan responsible for operating the Japanese localized SourceForge site.

SourceForge was tied up with the news site Slashdot, also a VA property for much of its history, and there was a parallel "Slashdot Japan," now at srad.jp and often called "Surado" (スラド) or SRAD, which went with OSDN through subsequent acquisitions. That is important because for many of the parties involved, Surado was really the main event and the OSDN software-development site more of a side dish. Much of the reporting of events was about - and was posted on - Surado rather than OSDN. Buyers of the corporate entity that included both were often more interested in acquiring Surado than in acquiring OSDN.

As technology and Internet culture changed over time, SourceForge became less popular. In particular, Git was first released in 2005 and became more popular than SVN. SourceForge started hosting Git repositories too, but Github (founded 2008) grew in popularity and eventually was filling the role for very many projects that SourceForge had formerly filled. The main SourceForge site underwent at least one significant redesign in the late 2000s, with the new code eventually becoming the basis for Apache Allura.

According to OSDN's own history page (English-language page but on a terribly unreliable server as of February 2024), the OSDN division of VA Japan spun off into an independent company in 2007. They seem not to have adopted the "Allura" site-software changes, but instead implemented a bunch of new features and redesigns of their own during the same period, so the look and feel of the Japanese site diverged a fair bit from that of the American site.

Apparently, Shuji Sado, CEO of OSDN, bought all the shares of OSDN in 2010 and from then until at least 2015 he was running it as a "benevolent dictatorship."

During 2013-2015, the US SourceForge was involved in a situation (described in more detail at the linked Wikipedia section) where they were inserting "adware" into downloadable binaries - including into the very popular binary packages of The GIMP, without permission of that package's authors after The GIMP had moved its official distribution site elsewhere. The adware insertion was controversial and it basically lost them the community's support. SourceForge's name was mud, so to speak, in the English-speaking free software community after that episode. Their already-declining popularity tanked further.

But the Japanese site was still reasonably popular and had its own solid user base. In 2015 they stopped using the name "SourceForge.JP" and switched to calling the whole site "OSDN." As they put it in their own history page:

On the other hand, we became more and more distant with the US side. Actually, when both Rob Malda and Jeff Bates, the two founders of Slashdot.org, were still with the US side, the relationship we had with them was great with a sense of comradeship, even though there wasn't much going on business wise. But when Rob Malda left in 2011, and the US side was bought by some job site business company, it became excruciatingly difficult to communicate. Also, due to the problems arose from some Adware program on their forge site, and the rampant spread of SPAM and malware have tarnishing the brand image, it became a sticky problem for us as well for using the same names.

At OSDN, we came up with several measures to fix the problem and had a discussion with the US side, but that effort never came to bear anything positive, and consequently, both sides reached to a decision to end the license agreement for the brands by March 2015. Henceforward, on May 11, 2015, Slashdot Japan and SourceForge.JP, the two websites which OSDN Corporation had been operating, changed the names respectively to SRAD and OSDN (the company name stayed the same.)

Right after that, discontent users of the US side's forge sites spewed anger here and there at many places, and that turned in to a huge flame.

By abandoning the names we'd used for 15 years, there were enormous sacrifices to be paid. That said, OSDN immediately discarded the then policy which was to be "the forge site for the Japanese people" and continued to make changes on OSDN to provide services open and available to the people around the world, which even non-Japanese speakers can feel comfortable using. Also, mirror network has been reorganized from being a group of mirror sites only setup within Japan into a global mirror network. This is still an ongoing effort.

OSDN's currently (Feb 2024) posted history ends in 2015, despite having an automatically-generated "last update" date of 2020.

According to Wayback Machine snapshots, the copyright notice on the front page of osdn.net changed from "OSDN Corporation" to "Appirits, Inc." between 15 February and 17 February, 2020. Acquisition by Appirits was announced on the site on 26 February 2020; original posting here but I reproduce the entire announcement because of the unreliability of the site.

I have transferred OSDN Inc.. business to Appirits Inc., a company who focuses on online game business and web-system contract development business.

OSDN business unit of VA Linux Systems Japan is the predecessor of OSDN Inc., and it has been 20 years since the launch of our website. Although we have gone through various twists and turns, including the collapse of the US parent company, spinning off from VA Linux, and being in conflict with the partner company, we continued to steadily move forward to improve our service and kept growing appropriately without stepping out of bounds. Especially after we changed our brand in 2015, we began seeing more and more developers from outside of Japan using OSDN.net, and we were able to successfully get on the growth track as a global network.

That said, we can't deny the facts that the average age of the people involved with OSDN has continued to rise in the last two decades, and that we started to see some signs of aging in our system. In addition, as the outlook of the net environment, including the advertising industry, remains to be unclear, it was inevitable that we needed something more than superficial clever tricks. In need of a drastic change, I came to the conclusion to go under the umbrella of a company that would allow us to get access to rejuvenating resources for future growth.

In short term, there won't be any changes in the OSDN.net service, and all former employees, including myself, have already moved to the new organization.

As we plan to announce moving OSDN.net into cloud-based service and cooperation function with GitHub in the near future, in mid to long term, you can expect to see great things happen.

(Former CEO of OSDN Inc.)
General Manager of OSDN Div, Appirits Inc.
Shuji Sado

Appirits is a Japanese software development company possibly most notable for being the current (as of Feb 2024) holder of publishing rights to the well-known Kemono Friends 3 smartphone game originally developed by Sega.

There were a few other announcements posted in the months following that one. The last "site news" announcement posted on OSDN was an item about temporary downtime for maintenance and infrastructure replacement, posted on 12 January 2021 and referring to a planned outage for a few hours on 18 January 2021. As of February 2024, there have been no further news postings. Formerly, there had been at least a couple of site news postings in every calendar year from 2015 to 2020.

OSDN occasionally sent out announcements about site changes via mass email as well. I got the last such email on 27 April 2020.

I found out later, from Surado postings linked below, that Shuji Sado left Appirits and therefore OSDN in November 2021.

Apparently, some time in 2022 Open Source China (OSChina, www.oschina.net) bought Surado and OSDN. It seems this fact was not announced until 2023, never announced in English, and never announced on the OSDN site in any language. They issued a Chinese-language press release on 24 July 2023. The OSDN site (even the Chinese-language version) retained its "© Appirits" notice, which it still bears to this day. There was also apparently some kind of agreement under which the existing Surado editorial team, who were part of Appirits, would continue editing Surado on a temporary basis, for a then-unspecified length of time.

Japanese news coverage on 2 August 2023 described efforts by SourceForge (the original US site) to recruit projects that might leave OSDN; but as the reporter says, the memory of the adware scandal years earlier meant SourceForge still had a negative reputation, which made this a hard sell. The article mentions GitHub as another possibility, but says that although GitHub supported SVN, it was ending that support on 8 January 2024. I haven't followed up the point about GitHub SVN support; my own impression when I had looked at it many years earlier was that GitHub's "SVN" support was only ever on a second-class basis, as a compatibility layer slapped on top of what was really a Git repository, and so it wasn't suitable for serious use even while it might have remained available.

Bram Moolenaar, the original author of the Vim text editor, died in August 2023, and while dealing with that, the Vim project also had to deal with the loss of OSDN's project Web hosting, where their main Web site had been located. It appears that PHP or MySQL service for their Web site was intermittently failing for them at least as early as June 2023. They relocated in September 2023 to new hosting from Wavestack. Interestingly, it appears that they knew about the OSChina acquisition; they may have been keeping an eye on Surado to find out about it.

TeraTerm left OSDN in November 2023, moving to GitHub. Like Vim, they were among the best-known projects to have been hosted on OSDN.

It was announced on 22 January 2024 - in a posting on Surado - that OSChina would shut down both Surado and OSDN on 31 January 2024.

That did not in fact occur. On the day of the shutdown, it was announced that instead they would keep the sites open temporarily, but with no updates on Surado because the contract for Appirits to edit Surado had expired; and they were looking for acquirers.

However, although Surado had remained active, OSDN was falling apart without maintenance since definitely as far back as early 2023, probably as far back as the OSChina acquisition (that is to say, OSChina never did any work on OSDN at all), and possibly as far back as early 2021 (meaning that Appirits had also abandoned OSDN well before the OSChina acquisition).

Relevant Surado postings

I only started looking at Surado just now (February 2024), and in so doing, I've discovered a lot of announcements and clues that I wish I had known about at the time they were current. Much information about the status of OSDN was apparently posted on Surado and nowhere else - in particular, not on OSDN itself. All of this material was also, of course, posted only in the Japanese language. Here's a list of noteworthy articles with English summaries.

スラドを運営するOSDN、全事業を(株)アピリッツに譲渡 2020-02-17 The sale of Surado and OSDN to Appirits (linking the announcement on OSDN that I quoted above).

スラドの hylom 編集長、退任 2020-07-04 Departure of "hylom," Surado's editor-in-chief.

アピリッツ、けものフレンズ3をセガから運営移管すると発表 30 2021-06-16 Acquisition of Kemono Friends 3 by Appirits.

佐渡秀治氏、アピリッツを去る 2021-11-10 Departure of Shuji Sado (former benevolent dictator of OSDN) from Appirits. Links to his farewell Web log entry, which discusses the 2010-2020 history in considerable detail but says basically nothing about post-Appirits events.

osdn.net のメンテナンスはされていない? 2023-04-18 A submission (not accepted by the editors to run as a regular story) from a Surado user called "ribbon," complaining that OSDN seemed not to have received any maintenance in a long time; mailing lists dead, tickets unanswered, etc. This same user had been periodically complaining in their own Surado "blog" space about similar issues, especially with OSDN-hosted mailing lists, as far back as December 2021; and they filed tickets on the OSDN support site, which went unanswered.

中国のオープンソースコミュニティ OSCHINA が OSDN を取得、サイトは独立を維持 2023-07-27 Acquisition of OSDN by OSChina. Links to OSChina's Chinese-language press release, which says the acquisition happened in 2022. As an exception to the general rule that acquirers seem more interested in Surado, and despite OSChina's subsequent disregard of OSDN, the press release only mentions OSDN and not Surado.

日本のオープンソースプロジェクト ホスティングサービス OSDN、中国企業に買収されていた 2023-07-31 Unaccepted story submission of a link to news coverage on Impress about the OSChina acquisition. Doesn't really say anything significant, but I think it's interesting that after the OSChina acquisition was announced (and that at least half a year late), the Surado editors for a long time didn't accept any stories related to the status of OSDN. There are some hints in this and other unaccepted submissions of Japan/China animosity being expressed by Surado users, and the editors may have been trying to keep a lid on that.

TeraTermプロジェクト、GitHubへ完全移行 2023-11-12 Unaccepted story submission about TeraTerm, one of the most notable projects hosted on OSDN, moving to GitHub. Links to TeraTerm's announcement on Twitter.

スラド終了のお知らせ 2024-01-22 OSChina to shut down Surado and OSDN at the end of January - thus, nine days' notice.

OSDNのミラーコンテンツ、当面は維持 2024-01-26 Discussion of the status of OSDN file-distribution mirror sites. Many are long since defunct already, but of the remaining sites, many are expected to remain online even after the OSDN shutdown.

スラドとOSDN、閉鎖せず受け入れ先募集へ 2024-01-31 Planned shutdown of Surado and OSDN not to go ahead after all; appeal for interested acquirers to contact OSChina about taking over the sites. Editorial contract with Appirits nonetheless ending, so no more updates likely.

Historical background of the Tsukurimashou Project

I initiated the Tsukurimashou Project in 2010 and almost immediately registered it on SourceForge.JP, as the site was then known. I had multiple reasons for choosing that as the home of the project, of which the biggest was that I wanted to connect with the Japanese-language free software community. I also wanted a site that would have SVN as a first-class service, not just an interface layer on top of Git.

I kept Tsukurimashou on the site through the site's name change to OSDN, and through various changes and developments in my own life and in the project. One important point worth noting was that the Tsukurimashou OCR fonts became quite popular. Although they are just a minor side project from my point of view, tucked into a directory of Tsukurimashou because that was a convenient place to stick some files for distribution, they ended up being for a long time the biggest source of Web traffic to both Tsukurimashou and my personal Web site. Having (what I thought was) a reliable mirror system for those seemed important, and I always held out hope that traffic to the OCR fonts would also raise awareness of the rest of the Tsukurimashou Project.

Another relevant point was that my ability to spend time on the Tsukurimashou Project decreased a lot after the first few years. At the project's inception in 2010, I had been hoping to make Japanese-language font design, and the new technologies I developed as part of the project, an important part of my academic career. During the early 2010s I did a lot of research related to the project, and published some papers on topics like the IDSgrep character dictionary, and I used my work on Tsukurimashou to support my applications for academic postings including several in Japan and elsewhere in East Asia. I was not successful in getting a permanent academic posting, and although some of my Tsukurimashou-related work was published during my 2014-2016 postdoc at ITU Copenhagen, by that point I was focusing my efforts almost entirely on the job search and I had little availability to make much more progress on Tsukurimashou.

Things became even worse for me personally when in that final effort (the "slutspurt," as they say in the Nordic languages) I was unsuccessful at finding even so much as a temporary academic job to follow my Danish posting, and I had to come back to Canada with no employment at all and no real possibility of continuing my academic career nor of ever getting to use my PhD in the role for which I had acquired it. I had just wasted 15 years of my life.

From 2016 onward, I've been running an electronics business and struggling to survive. The pace of Tsukurimashou development has dropped precipitously. Nonetheless, I managed to complete and release versions 0.10 and 0.11 in 2017 and 2021 respectively.

The bottom line is that because I had other things to worry about, I wasn't paying close attention to OSDN and its stability. I used OSDN but I didn't know about the acquisitions that were going on between 2015 and 2023. It looks like OSDN was basically abandoned by Appirits in early 2021; then sold in 2022 to Chinese buyers who didn't announce themselves, left the site to fall apart with no maintenance or attention, and eventually announced its shutdown on just nine days' notice.

OSDN was still running pretty well, and I noticed nothing unusual when I logged into it to do occasional Tsukurimashou work, at least through 2022. I suppose that's a testament to the quality of the technology put in place during Shuji Sato's dictatorship: the site was basically able to run itself despite having no human supervision. Toward the end of 2023 the site did seem flaky, but I didn't realize just how bad it had gotten until very late in 2023 when I got email from someone who wanted to download the OCR fonts and couldn't. And, partly because I felt pretty bad about Tsukurimashou in general as well as my other personal problems, I had very few "spoons" for Tsukurimashou work. So it wasn't immediate that I found myself able to carefully evaluate the OSDN situation and figure out what to do about it.

Current state of OSDN

The administrative status of OSDN is rapidly shifting. I am writing this on 7 February 2024. Just over two weeks ago (22 January) OSChina announced that the site would shut down one week ago (31 January). Then on 31 January, it didn't shut down, but they announced they wanted to get rid of it. That is clearly not the end of the story.

An honest, rational analysis suggests that any effort to sell the site is unlikely to be successful, and even if someone buys it, the buyer will really be buying Surado, not OSDN, with OSDN as a not-particularly-welcome extra in the package. Appirits started to work on the site and then abandoned it; OSChina never even started; and a new buyer is unlikely to do much better. The damage done since the OSChina acquisition, in terms of services failing and projects leaving, is going to make it even harder for any new owner because they will face repairing a broken site and its broken reputation, not only keeping a working site up.

The last official communication from OSDN on its own site as opposed to Surado, was in January 2021. It looks like Appirits just walked away from the OSDN site shortly after that and left it to die, despite maintaining some involvement in Surado even after the OSChina acquisition. Shuji Sado left Appirits in November 2021 and that lines up with the end of OSDN as a fully viable system.

Postings on OSDN's official Twitter account averaged one every few days until 18 July 2023 and then suddenly stopped; however, these all appear to have been automated, and I haven't been able to find human postings on that account, which might give a better idea of when the administrators walked away.

As of now (February 2024), the main Web service for osdn.net basically works. Static Web pages are correctly served. However, it is very slow, and it often gives "504 Gateway Timeout" errors. I believe this situation has existed at least as far back as September 2023. I haven't dug through the Wayback Machine results very carefully but it does include some snapshots of Gateway Timeout error messages in that time frame. The best explanation seems to be that incoming Web connections are going through a load balancer that passes them to backend servers, and there aren't enough backend servers anymore or not enough of them are working, to handle the load. OSChina may have simply cut the resources they were providing for the site, in order to cut the cost of running the servers.

Other servers associated with OSDN are failing. The server(s) at static-cdn.osdn.net, which are used for images and stylesheets, are using what appear to be valid TLS certificates issued by "TrustAsia Technologies, Inc." in Mainland China. My browser doesn't accept that as a trusted issuer, and it will not by default connect to this server - so without an override, images and stylesheets don't appear. I get the impression that some other browsers may trust these certificates; and presumably, they are acceptable to OSChina's target market, which is not the English-speaking world but also not Japan either.

The download server(s) at osdn.dl.osdn.net appear(s) to be using a Let's Encrypt certificate which expired on 15 October 2023 but was otherwise valid. Because of the expired certificate, most browsers cannot download files from the OSDN mirror network. It's possible that there are multiple servers behind that domain name with different certificate status, so that downloads might occasionally succeed, or might fail with different errors. Downloads don't seem notably slow if you can get through by overriding the certificate check.

Logging into OSDN is still possible, if you wait for the slow servers; retry the 504 errors; and either put in an override to accept the wacky Chinese certificates, or live with the lack of images and stylesheets. When logged in, most features of the site (in particular database-driven stuff like the ticket system) seem to basically work. "Statistics" such as number of downloads and number of Web page visits do not work, showing placeholders, division by zero, and similar errors.

OSDN documentation directs users to a ticket tracker for support issues. It contains tickets complaining about expired certificates, inaccessible project Web service, and "Gateway Timeout" errors, dating back at least as far as July 2023. There are complaints about occasional unreliability of the system going back further. I've been able to find no official response to any support tickets at all, at least as far back as 1 February 2023, when there were several hundred garbage tickets filed as part of what looks like an unsuccessful SQL injection attack. Some of the tickets have attracted commiserating comments from other users saying things like "yes, I had that problem too" or "site seems to be abandoned," in both English and Japanese. The ticket tracker is also filling up with requests for projects to be deleted; most don't say why, but the few that do pretty much all say it's because they have moved elsewhere.

The front page of OSDN, shown to logged-out users, shows five "new releases" in the last few days of 2023, and just one later, on 27 January 2024 - which suggests some users are still logging into the site and trying to use it. The "Site announcement" section lists the site news items described above, of which the last one dates from January 2021. But other automatically-generated lists on the front page, of "Download Ranking," "Active Projects," and "Recent Magazine Articles," are empty.

The SVN server at svn.sourceforge.jp still seems to be fully operational.

"Project" Web hosting, a generic Web server that would serve a directory of arbitrary files for sites such as the tsukurimashou.osdn.jp hostname, doesn't work. According to DNS, that is a CNAME alias for projects.osdn.io, which has two IP addresses both in the Amazon EC2 space. According to nmap, one of these addresses is down, and the other filters all ports except HTTP and HTTPS, both of which are "closed." Attempting to connect to tsukurimashou.osdn.jp or projects.osdn.io with my desktop browser gives (after a long wait) a timeout at the browser level (not a "Gateway Timeout" generated by their load balancer). The general picture is that any server at those URLs is no longer providing Web service at all.

In order to update project Web pages, historically I would have used ssh or scp into shell.osdn.jp, to copy files into what was essentially a public_html directory. That host is still accepting SSH connections, but it no longer accepts my authentication key.

I can no longer find any mention of "project" Web hosting, or the shell server used to update it, on OSDN's help pages. The closest thing I can find is what they call "file storage," which allows posting an arbitrary file tree, but doesn't seem to be designed for Web pages and doesn't give you a customized URL. I get the impression that they may have (deliberately, with human intervention) terminated support for both "project" Web hosting and shell service without telling me at some point further in the past, and then the server for those things free-wheeled without maintenance until it finally died on 16 November 2023. I don't remember when I last tried to update the "project" Web pages but it may have been as far back as 2021; I noticed nothing unusual at the time, anyway.

What's next for Tsukurimashou

I have registered tsukurimashou.org and spun up this Web site on it, more or less on an emergency basis. I'm using the existing Web server of my business, North Coast Synthesis Ltd., and for that reason I feel okay about saying that the hosting is "sponsored by North Coast Synthesis" and adding some ads and branding to the pages. Nonetheless, Tsukurimashou remains an independent and non-profit project.

At the moment, basically all I have is a Web server. I have made a start on redoing all the Web design, to keep roughly the look of what we had on the old project Web site but implemented with more modern CSS. It is now much more "responsive" for display on mobile devices.

Some parts of the new site are only in English. Translation was never complete on the old site, but it's somewhat worse now. Nonetheless, I have the proper infrastructure in place for running a bilingual Web site.

The public-facing SVN server is gone; but Tsukurimashou development has right from the start been done on a private SVN server I host myself, with the public one only mirroring it. The private SVN server is still running the same as ever, and I've set up a system to package daily snapshots from it, so you can get the latest development version of Tsukurimashou on the downloads page.

The CI build was always self-hosted anyway, so it remains unchanged.

The Web-based IDSgrep front end has been switched to the new server; its backend was always self-hosted anyway, so it required only minimal updating.

The ticket system is gone. I have captured a CSV file of its contents from OSDN and could presumably import the old tickets into any new ticket system I might put up.

The file releases that were posted on OSDN are now available from the new server's download page, except some "interim documents and demos" that I didn't think were worth keeping online.

I have posted notices on the old OSDN project saying that Tsukurimashou has moved here. I will probably delete most of the other content from there in the near future, to drive the point home.

Stability of this site should at least be better than OSDN in the near future, but it is in some question because my personal situation is precarious. My business, North Coast Synthesis, is, frankly, failing; and the Tsukurimashou Project's hosting now comes from North Coast Synthesis, so if I can't keep the business operational then I won't be able to keep Tsukurimashou online either. I hope that you will support both, by buying synthesizer products in my Web shop and by directing attention to this page.