Online / 6 & 7 February 2021

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The Death of Openness and Freedom?

Open Source Under Attack


2020 was a very bad year for most of us, under the shadow of all that was going on there was a troubling trend we all need to be aware of: the erosion of the classic open source model and values. For years vendors have been slowly chipping away at the freedom and openness provided by open source, this year saw unprecedented changes to how people view and value OSS. From licensing changes to as a service exclusive, what was open is no longer. Is this being driven solely by the cloud? or is this purely corporate greed and others viewing open Source as a successful business model to replicate? Let's not only discuss but bring to light the trouble trends that threaten open source projects and development as we know it.

"[W]e didn't open source it to get help from the community, to make the product better. We open sourced as a freemium strategy; to drive adoption." - MongoDB CEO Dev Ittycheria

Open source was never designed or planned to be used as "Gateway Drug" to move people to a proprietary locked in software, but more and more this is happening. This is not just a MongoDB move; Elastic, Redis, and others have all used the "Cloud" as a convenient excuse to erode classic open source licenses and values. At the same time new "open source compatible" versions of popular projects like MySQL or PostgreSQL pop up on cloud providers platforms. It's like the game "Among Us" only with your open source projects. You never know who or what is really open until you dig deep.

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Photo of Matt Yonkovit Matt Yonkovit

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