We have recently received reports from users in China and users who have visited China that they often cannnot access the Autoware repositories hosted at GitLab. The cause is the GitLab servers being sporadically blocked in China. It apparently “sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t”, which suggests that the cause is parts of the cloud infrastructure that GitLab uses being blocked at times.
China is an important area for Autoware with a large number of users, so we intend to solve this problem as quickly as we can. We considered moving the code repositories back to GitHub, but unfortunately we found that GitHub has exactly the same problem as GitLab. We found times where GitLab was accessible while GitHub was not, so even if we moved back to GitHub our users in China would still face the same problem. We also considered hosting code repository mirrors at GitHub, but testing this showed that it leads to confusion amongst users about where the code for Autoware really lives.
Obviously, we agree with our users in China that having access to the software only work sometimes is not a good situation. We do not yet have any solutions in place, and shifting our code back to GitHub will not work for the reasons stated above. However, we are considering some feasible solutions, with the current most-likely solution being that the Autoware Foundation hosts mirrors of the code repositories within China. This will avoid any blocking, although it unfortunately will not make it easy for Chinese users to participate in issues and MRs without being blocked randomly.
If you have a proposal for how we can avoid this problem, please let us know below.
When we get a solution in place, we will make another announcement. Until then, we thank you for your patience if you are in China and affected by the blocking of GitLab.