Lightbend Discontinues Akka Licence Being Open Source


The licencing for Akka will now be known as “Business Source License (BSL),” according to today’s announcement from Lightbend. This licence is neither free software nor open source. This licence is exclusive.

Jonas Bonér, the creator and CEO of Lightbend, developed Akka, a toolkit for developing concurrent distributed applications based on the actor paradigm, thirteen years ago. A new Akka licence model, which has replaced the open source Apache 2.0 licence with the source-available Business Source License (BSL) 1.1, was recently released by the firm.

As a result, the Akka codebase is only available for free usage during development and on test platforms. The BSL 1.1 licence gives projects the option to select an alternative licence that will take its place after a predetermined amount of time. After three years, Lightbend made the decision to change the BSL 1.1 licence back to an Apache 2.0 licence. Over the past few years, a number of other open source projects, including Couchbase, Sentry, and MariaBD, have switched to the BSL 1.1 licence.

All businesses who want to utilise the most recent version of Akka and have a revenue of over $25 million are impacted by the new licencing. Only major security updates and fixes are made available for version 2.6.x under the current Apache 2.0 licence until September 2023, while older versions are still free to use. Open source initiatives can get in touch with Lightbend to request the Additional Use Grant that was previously given to the Play Framework.

Prices for production systems per core per year were announced by Lightbend, with the Standard package starting at 1,995 USD and the Enterprise package at 2,995 USD. There may be volume reductions available as these are common prices. The new licence still allows for Lightbend to encourage community members to contribute to Akka.

In the blog, Bonér explains how open source software is increasingly being developed by businesses rather than by individuals, and how these businesses are less willing to pay for the software because they are utilising it internally. Given that big businesses will have to pay Lightbend to utilise Akka, the new licence model should spread out the maintenance work and expense. The money will subsequently be put to use by Lightbend to keep and develop Akka.

Users of the Akka toolkit actively discussed the licencing change on social media sites like Twitter, where the various choices were explored. Companies might pay the licence cost or remove Akka from their projects, according to one of the comments. Even the idea of one business purchasing Lightbend and changing the licence back to an open source alternative was floated. Several people discussed the possibility of future open source community forks.


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