As HashiCorp embraces a ‘source available’ approach, the open source landscape evolves. Balancing community contributions and commercial goals reflects the ongoing transformation in software collaboration.
The latest that’s sending ripples through the open source community, HashiCorp has announced a shift from its conventional open source stance to a ‘source available’ model. This is the company behind developing vital software tools such as Vagrant and Terraform. This transition follows the footsteps of MongoDB, Elastic, and Confluent, which also pivoted to similar strategies, citing concerns about misuse and competition.
Co-founder Arman Dadgar, in a recent blog post, explained that HashiCorp’s initial commitment to open source, which prioritised ecosystem building and user code adaptability, faced challenges due to some entities exploiting open source without contributing back. This prompted HashiCorp’s adoption of the Business Source License (BSL) version 1.1 for future releases, effective from August 10th.
While APIs, SDKs, and various libraries will remain under the Mozilla Public License v2.0 (MPL 2.0), HashiCorp’s move to BSL 1.1 means that users can still copy, modify, redistribute, and use the software under specific conditions. However, competitive offerings directly rivaling HashiCorp’s products will be restricted.
Reactions to this transformation have been mixed. Amanda Brock, CEO of OpenUK, questioned whether a leadership change influenced HashiCorp’s decision, while Avi Press, CEO of Scarf, praised HashiCorp’s handling of the transition. He said on Twitter/X, “HashiCorp has set a good bar for how to do a BSL switch smoothly. No misnaming anything, no attacks, just a difficult business decision carefully communicated. They are a well-meaning group of people who have shown they do care about OSS, whether or not you like their decision”.
However, Peter Zaitsev, co-founder of Percona, noted the ongoing polarisation within the open source landscape. He describes this move as “”hostile towards the community who supported the company along the way”.
This shift underscores the intricate interplay between community contributions, commercial interests, and competition within the open source domain. As HashiCorp joins the ranks of companies redefining their approaches, the broader open source ecosystem braces for potential impacts.