Why Terraform is not like ElasticSearch

After recent licensing change from MPL to BUSL, a new Open Source form of Terraform – OpenTofu – has been created and moved to Linux Foundation.

Now, a while ago ElasticSearch’s license was similarly changed from Apache-2.0 to ELv2. That prompted AWS to create a fork – OpenSearch – still licensed with Apache-2.0.

While this may seem inconsistent, but I heavily favor Elastic’s ELv2 project vs AWS and at the same time heavily favor OpenTofu vs HashiCorp’s Terraform.

I believe the majority of the community has same perception here as me. In the nutshell, this comes from the belief that command line tools (Terraform being one) must stay open-source – while server-side tools are ok to have restrictions.

I don’t see any hard rationale why it is like that, but it definitely feels so. One possible explanation though is that popular command line tools are meant to act as building blocks – and community feels it gives up too much power if it agrees to pay rent on such tools. Imagine if ls becomes non-open source – that type of thing.

Another explanation is that AWS has a history of snatching open-source projects built by other organizations and running them without sharing profits. So a big company acting unfairly. But in a Terraform story, HashiCorp is the big company – fighting against lots of small startups, some are very small. Again, the perception is that the big company is acting unfairly now goes against HashiCorp.

In any case, bottom line is – once there is a stable release of OpenTofu – I’ll be fully migrating all my projects from Terraform to that.

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