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InfoQ Homepage News OpenTF Foundation Released OpenTF Manifesto

OpenTF Foundation Released OpenTF Manifesto

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On August 15, OpenTF Foundation released the OpenTF Manifesto. This follows the earlier announcement by HashiCorp of the change of license from Mozilla Public License (v2.0) (MPL) to Business Source License (v1.1) (BUSL) on all future Terraform releases.

The main goal of the OpenTF Foundation, as mentioned in the manifesto, is to maintain the Terraform project's code under a fully open source license. The authors of the manifesto ask HashiCorp:

… to do the right thing by the community: instead of going forward with the BUSL license change, switch Terraform back to a truly open source license and commit to keeping it that way forever going forward. That way, instead of fracturing the community, we end up with a single, impartial, reliable home for Terraform where the whole community can unite to keep building this amazing ecosystem.

The MPL is a simple copyleft license.

The MPL's "file-level" copyleft is designed to encourage contributors to share modifications they make to your code, while still allowing them to combine your code with code under other licenses (open or proprietary) with minimal restrictions.

On the other hand, the BUSL license, which was invented by MariaDB, states:

The Licensor hereby grants you the right to copy, modify, create derivative works, redistribute, and make non-production use of the Licensed Work. The Licensor may make an Additional Use Grant, above, permitting limited production use.

In its FAQ about the BUSL license, HashiCorp clarifies some points by responding to some questions from the community. HashiCorp wrote that using its products as a service internally within an organization is allowed because:

The terms of the BSL allow for all non-production and production usage, except for providing competitive offerings to third parties that embed or host our software.

Alternatively, for competitive offerings, HashiCorp specifies:

A "competitive offering" is a product that is sold to third parties, including through paid support arrangements, that significantly overlaps the capabilities of a HashiCorp commercial product. For example, this definition would include hosting or embedding Terraform as part of a solution that is sold competitively against our commercial versions of Terraform. By contrast, products that are not sold or supported on a paid basis are always allowed under the HashiCorp BSL license because they are not considered competitive.

Two weeks after publication, the manifesto has been signed by over 100 companies and individuals. Noting the decision of HashiCorp not to switch back the license as asked, OpenTF Foundation decided to create a fork of the MPL-licenced Terraform code, named "OpenTF", and maintain it in the foundation under the auspices of the Linux Foundation.

The reaction of Kelsey Hightower, former Google developer advocate, about the decision of HashiCorp is:

The Terraform situation, and the community's response, demonstrates the power of open source. The original maintainers made a decision a subset of their community doesn't agree with, they forked the project, and will continue building in a foundation

Even though many companies signed the OpenTF manifesto, some organizations do not agree with the OpenTF Foundation initiative, such as, who shared why they will not support it. On X (formerly Twitter) Vlad Ionescu created a popular thread that posited why OpenTF is disconnected from reality.

Alternative Infrastructure As Code (IaC) tools include Pulumi, Bicep, and AWS CloudFormation.

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