HashiCorp CEO talks license changes and the role of foundations

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Interview Controversial unreality wrangler HashiCorp came retired swinging past week astatine its San Francisco HashiConf shindig erstwhile nan taxable of licensing came up.

The arena featured plentifulness of merchandise announcements, alongside nan inevitable smattering of AI, but nan taxable of that licence change and nan quality of astatine slightest one notable Terraform alternative was ne'er acold away.

As a reminder, HashiCorp made a abrupt alteration successful licensing argumentation successful August, moving to nan Business Source License (BSL) alternatively than afloat FOSS. The crux of nan alteration was that while nan root codification remained available, it could not beryllium utilized for commercialized purposes without buying a license.

In an question and reply pinch The Register, HashiCorp CEO David McJannet was keen to stress that nan institution was now each astir being root available.

He said: "We're very clear successful our language: our licence is source-available."


We attended HashiConf, and nan words 'open source' seemed to beryllium beautiful overmuch everywhere, moreover if that is - by its ain admittance - not what HashiCorp is needfully astir truthful overmuch anymore.

When challenged, McJannet continued: "We're talking astir nuances that I'm not judge galore group extracurricular of nan OSI understand aliases attraction about.

"By nan strict meaning of OSI, you'll surely announcement we're very clear that our products are root available."


"For each intents and purposes, they're unfastened root unless you hap to beryllium a commercialized vendor trying to monetize our market," McJannet opined.

  • HashiCorp Vault scans for skeletons successful your codification closet
  • HashiCorp tweaks Terraform pinch personification interface changes and AI infused testing
  • Terraform fork OpenTF renamed and relocated arsenic OpenTofu
  • If nan Linux Foundation was a package company, it'd beryllium nan biggest successful nan world

It's a funny favoritism that has caused consternation and head-scratching wrong nan community. As acold arsenic HashiCorp is concerned, its attack is very overmuch a imaginable early arsenic acold arsenic nan full of unfastened root is concerned.

When asked if much companies mightiness adopt nan BSL aliases similar, McJannet replied: "I don't cognize what other nan replacement is for a batch of these startups.

"I talk to them each nan time. They are genuinely puzzled pinch respect to really to do this complete nan agelong term. Because nan infinitesimal they get popular, companies pinch much distribution embed their R&D wrong their products. Let's conscionable opportunity it's a very existent topic."

McJannet besides pondered astir nan domiciled of foundations amid nan furor.

"I would inquire them what their domiciled is," he mused. "Is their domiciled to judge forks of products by commercialized vendors?"

Shortly aft McJannet's comments, nan Linux Foundation made a lengthy post titled "How unfastened root foundations protect nan licensing integrity of unfastened root projects" - a thinly cloaked swipe astatine nan HashiCorp approach.

Using nan illustration of nan Linux kernel, nan Foundation's GM of Projects Mike Dolan said successful nan post: "Part of nan top worth that unfastened root foundations bring is nan creation of a neutral collaboration hub for everyone participating in, and taking a dependency on, a project."

"The Linux Foundation (and others for illustration it) connection their communities: distributed ownership, a level playing field, de-risking unfastened source, and unfastened organization governance"

Similarly, Chris Aniszczyk, CTO of nan Cloud Native Computing Foundation told The Register successful an interview during nan 2023 Shanghai Kubecon: "We person an liking successful benignant of supporting, openly governed multi-vendor stuff."

"Source available," he said, "is not unfastened source."

The words of Dolan and Aniszczyk are improbable to interest HashiCorp excessively much. However, nan forking of Terraform into OpenTofu should origin a sleepless nighttime aliases two, moreover if nan institution insists its customers could not attraction little astir nan licence change.

Publicly, nan biz protests that its open-source rival is much nan consequence of rivals irritated astir losing entree to nan root codification than thing else.

However, arsenic different companies look to HashiCorp and companies for illustration it erstwhile pondering really champion to move forward, nan conception of unfastened root does look very overmuch astatine a crossroads.

Rather than inviting disapproval of HashiCorp for its move, possibly McJannet has a point: what is nan domiciled of foundations arsenic licenses proliferate and nan codification is forked? ®