Users will be able to sign up for the service "right away," and Brockmeier writes that Google is making this release fully public -- developers won't need an invitation to try it out.
I sat down yesterday with Stein and Google's open source program manager Chris DiBona, who describe the service as similar to SourceForge.net and other community hosting projects, but not designed to compete with those projects.
Stein says, "We really like SourceForge, and we don't want to hurt SourceForge" or take away projects. Instead, Stein says that the goal is to see what Google can do with the Google infrastructure, to provide an alternative for open source projects.
DiBona says that it's a "direct result of Greg concentrating on what open source projects need. Most bugtrackers are informed by what corporations" and large projects need, whereas Google's offering is just about what open source developers need.
Stein says that Google's hosting has a "brand new look" at issue tracking that may be of interest to open source projects, and says "nobody else out there is doing anything close to it." At the same time DiBona and Stein say that Google's hosting offering will not have some features present in SourceForge.net and other code repositories that open source projects and enterprise customers might want.
Two other important details: First, the service isn't yet feature complete, and developers will have to expect the occasional bump in the road.
Second, Stein said Google has no plans to offer Web site hosting for open-source projects; if a project wants a Web site to communicate with users or for other purposes, its developers will have to find server space for that part of their project elsewhere.
As you would expect with someone like Greg Stein managing this project, Google is also covering its bases with SourceForge; there doesn't seem to be any reason why the two sites can't coexist and, in due time, find ways to complement one another. Our new Internet overlords, as usual, seem determined to run a really big company without doing all of the usual, really dumb things that really big companies usually do.