Lightbend has announced the switch of the license for Akka. So far, the toolkit relied on the Apache 2.0 license, in future the Business Source License (BSL) v1.1 will apply. The reason given in a blog post by Lightbend Managing Director Jonas Bonér is that many large companies use Akka, but don’t fund the project enough.
Bonér, who is also the initiator of Akka, explains that Lightbend has ambitious plans for Akka’s future and needs a way to fund and sustain development. Many companies that use Akka would neither pay for it nor actively participate in the open source project.
Following in the footsteps of MariaDB, CockroachDB and Couchbase
With the Business Source License now in use, licensors have greater control over the commercial use of the source code, which they can also make available to the community at the same time. The BSL was originally developed by the company behind MariaDB, and it applies to the database.
In recent years, CockroachDB and Couchbase, among others, have switched from traditional open source licenses to BSL 1.1. The manufacturers of the two databases primarily cited use in the cloud as the reason for the change. Platforms like AWS would offer paid services based on the databases without paying license fees to the database manufacturers.
Develop without limits
Akka’s source code remains openly available. There are no restrictions for the development and non-productive use of the toolkit under the BSL either. Anyone who uses Akka-based software productively must purchase a commercial license, which is free for companies with annual sales of less than $25 million.
The Business Source License stipulates that the BSL will be returned to a valid open source license for a code version after a maximum of four years. The Akka code will transition to the Apache license three years after each release.
Akka: Actor model for the JVM
Akka is a toolkit and associated runtime environment for the JVM. It provides models designed to simplify the development of concurrent, distributed applications. Its core concept is based on the actuator model that was developed in the 1970s. The concurrent units act as actuators, and communication takes place via message exchange. The programming language Erlang also offers an actuator model.
Akka is written in Scala. Originally, an actor implementation in the language itself was intended. Jonas Bonér finally developed Akka, following the style of the Erlang actuator model. In January 2010 he presented the project to the public. Akka can be used with both Scala and Java.
Response at Apache Flink
The license change FAQ provides special permissions for open source software. Apache Flink is one of the prominent projects based on Akka. Bonér mentions it in his post on the license change. In an article, the Flink team clarifies that the stream processing framework is not endangered by the license adjustment and that there are no changes to the Flink license, but that the software will continue to be under the Apache license.
To ensure this, Apache Flink remains current with Akka 2.6, the last non-BSL version. However, the team warns that there could potentially be issues in the future when there are no more security patches for Akka 2.6, as Bonér explained in the discussion on GitHub.
Further details on the license change can be found in Jonas Bonér’s post on the Lightbend blog. (rm)
To home page