The Terraform fork OpenTofu, formerly OpenTF, is now under the auspices of the Linux Foundation. Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation, announced this at the Open Source Summit in Bilbao. OpenTofu is a response to HashiCorp’s decision to move the popular infrastructure-as-code (IaC) tool Terraform from the Mozilla Public License (MPL-2.0) to the Business Source License (BSL-1.1). The BSL is a license that is not recognized as an open source license by the Open Source Initiative. In the future, OpenTofu will function as a drop-in replacement for Terraform (in version 1.5), which is one of the most used IaC tools, and will be expanded to include new functions.
The driving force behind OpenTofu are the companies Gruntwork, Spacelift, Harness, Env0 and Scalar, which operate in the Terraform ecosystem and offer IaC services, for example. They have agreed to cover the costs of a total of 18 full-time developers (FTEs) for five years. According to the list of supporters on the OpenTofu website, 147 companies and 734 individuals support the project. It remains to be seen how many of them simply wanted to express their sympathy and how many actively contributed to the project.
Sebastian Stadl, Core Contributor at OpenTofu, traces the rapid development of the project at the Open Source Summit, which was launched a few weeks ago under the name OpenTF. Through the patronage of the Linux Foundation, one can now benefit from its open governance expertise, technical steering committee, infrastructure and advice on legal issues. In the long term, OpenTofu aims to become a Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) project. The first stable release of OpenTofu is expected to take place soon, but those interested can already view the public GitHub repository and experiment.
A question of trust
OpenTofu is positioning itself as a safe haven for companies unsettled by Terraform’s license change. David Béjar, Head of Software Engineering at Allianz, said at the Open Source Summit that the switch to OpenTofu was not only technical, but also strategic: “We are securing our future.” The focus on open source guarantees innovation, flexibility and the protection of customer interests.
Although the Terraform source code remains publicly accessible under the BSL, HashiCorp prohibits its use and modification if the goal is to develop competing products. As an example of a competing offering, HashiCorp cites a hypothetical embedded Terraform product in its license change FAQ.
However, according to OpenTofu, the definition of “competitive product” is too vague. Partners may not be able to trust that they will comply with the license as their offering or HasiCorp products evolve. In addition, the license change hinders the active Terraform community, which is likely to look for other projects that, in OpenTofu’s opinion, “are truly open source.” The BSL does not provide any restrictions for individuals and end users. (ndi)
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