6

https://github.com/kamaln7/ansible-swapfile

Seems not to be maintained. For example, an issue was created in May and no reaction. A new issue has just been created to ask whether this repo is still maintained.

When is it allowed to fork someone else repo and to publish it to Ansible galaxy for example?

13

It is always ethically acceptable to fork any code on Github (or Sourceforge or wherever you got it from) and do whatever you want with it, within the terms allowed by its license! This is what open source and permissive licenses are all about. The original author wanted the world to contribute to this piece of software, and you will be doing exactly that.

Fork it, respect the license requirements, and go on with it. It does not matter whether it is abandoned (like your example, since the last change was 3 years ago) or current.

If you do feel that you did some good improvements, send pull requests back to your upstream, as usual. If the original author never comes back, then so be it. If he does, he can integrate them (or not if he so chooses). But this is strictly optional, you are neither legally nor ethically forced to do so.

About uploading it to some other locations (Ansible Galaxy or whatever - say Docker Hub for docker images and so on): the issue is probably mostly to avoid irritations due to the name being "replaced" (but I'd assume if the original author already has uploaded it to A.G., you can't just replace it, anyway). So, in the latter case, just upload it with another name, which is still easily identifyable as related to the original - say, append some suffix which is not too obnoxious.

If the author, in your case, should later re-appear, and you had uploaded the software to the Ansible Galaxy, and he wants to take over, then you two will simply communicate and resolve the issue somehow (i.e., merge the two forks again and decide who keeps updating Ansible Galaxy). Chances are that he will be more than glad to leave the work to you.

Oh, and to be sure; this piece of software is under the MIT license:

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

There you go.

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  • I had a question for your answer. The OP asked about "ethics" at least in the question title. I totally agree with you that legally this is permissible, but ethically it does present a gray area, would you agree? – Vish Apr 7 '18 at 3:53
  • For example, I have not had time to maintain my own Github repos, and I am willing to allow anyone to fork it, as long as they can contribute back to my repository. Someone else might have a different "ethical" policy. So perhaps, ethically speaking, there is a certain set of responsibilities on part of the owner (to be ok with forks and extended development) and the forker (to be responsible enough to contribute back, like you mentioned in your reply as well). – Vish Apr 7 '18 at 3:56
  • @Vish Regarding ethics, by publishing a repository on GitHub you allow others to fork it (it's in the terms). It's encouraged, and it's the way it works. No contribution back is required. I don't believe there'd be many GitHub users that would consider it unethical to fork another's repo - there's private repos (paid at GitHub, or free elsewhere such as Bitbucket) available if an author does not want that. Btw, as long as the forker uses a permissive license, the original writer can even re-integrate their code of their own volition, without needing it to be explicitly contributed back. – Tim Malone Apr 7 '18 at 4:59
  • @Vish, no, I would not agree that ethically it is a grey area. It is, ethically, morally, legally and in any other way, a completely clear area. I believe the answer represents that, but have made it more explicit in the first sentence. – AnoE Apr 7 '18 at 8:36
1

As others have pointed out, this should be ethically OK. However, I would find it polite (and ethically correct) to add a note to a prominent place in your readme file stating that this is a forked repository and provide a link to the original.

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