Your candor regarding your lack of understanding of FOSS is precisely why I suggest you aim higher than Hostea or Gitea and help the entire FOSS community. Not at first but eventually.
By helping out Hostea you will inevitably gain key FOSS insights that are hidden in plain sight. FOSS has unique properties that cannot be replicated by proprietary software and each of them is a differentiator that could be used as a competitive advantage in a business model.
For instance when a government agency demands sovereignty, it automatically disqualifies anything but FOSS. Non FOSS based solutions may slip through the cracks, for instance when the ministry of defense accepts to acquire Microsoft product on the condition that the source code is deposited in a vault. But the tools that would allow them to reproduce the binary are out of reach, although they are essential. Once a company understands this, and Red Hat certainly did very early in the late 90’, it can strategize to leverage this unique quality.
This particular FOSS quality and how it can help a FOSS business models is easy to get in 2022 because it has been explained and exploited for over 20 years. It will become increasingly obvious over time and there is no way around it: proprietary software is, by definition, something with strings attached. Sovereignty is, by definition, the absence of strings attached. Satisfying sovereignty requirements with proprietary software amounts to trying to create dry water.
Another example, directly relevant to Hostea, is that it is in the nature of online services to be federated. In other words, trying to create an online service that is not federated is ultimately a self-defeating proposition. This is not a widely understood idea, by a long shot, and I’ve never read anything articulating this. I even doubt anyone said it publicly. But it has a direct impact on everything Hostea does at the technical level.
There is no need to dive into this particular idea (federated online services) now. But whatever successful business model is implemented for Hostea, it could leverage it as a differentiator from GitHub and any other proprietary forge because there is no way to make a federated online service based on proprietary service. At best it is possible to fake it, but you’ll never get the real thing nor the properties that you can derive from it. When we come up with a business model that incorporates this idea and we demonstrate it works in practice, you will have gained enough FOSS knowledge to significantly influence how FOSS, as whole, becomes sustainable.
To summarize, I think it’s worth keeping in mind there are untapped FOSS differentiators that may be key to the success of Hostea. We have a unique opportunity to find a treasure hidden in plain sight. The kind of treasure that does not need to be kept secret because it takes decades to be understood. The kind of treasure that we may be able to discover because, between all of us, we have a combination of skill set that is very rare.
This is all very seriously philosophical I’m tempted to tune it down by adding that we are more likely to run in circle and miss the discovery of the century by an inch. But that it won’t stop me, at all. Then @aschrijver would gently remind me that expressing myself in a negative way is not good way to inspire anyone. So I won’t do that. Or did I ?