An honest take on the latest HashiCorp drama

Márk Sági-Kazár

2023-12-11 @ DevOps BP meetup


Márk Sági-Kazár

Head of OSS @ OpenMeter

CNCF Ambassador


Full disclosure

  • I have made a career in OSS
  • I maintain Open Source software that uses HashiCorp products


  • Timeline
  • What is BUSL?
  • Why, HashiCorp, why?
  • Community reactions
  • OpenTofu (formerly OpenTF)
  • What’s next?


BUSL: Business Source License

  • Source available license
  • Created by MariaDB in 2013
  • Limits production use (requires a commercial license)
  • Change license: license changes back to this after 4 years

Free vs Open vs Available

All: free to copy, modify, distribute code (under the same license)

  • Free Software: derivative works must be free as well
  • Open Source: do whatever you want, but keep the license
  • Source Available: limits production use


  • BUSL is often referred to as BSL
  • BSL: Boost Software License

HashiCorp BSL

  • Based on MariaDB’s BUSL 1.1
  • Additional use grant: allow production use, unless you are a competitor 1
  • Change license: MPL 2.0 (after 4 years)
  • FAQ (not legally binding)

HashiCorp BSL: additional use grant 1

You may make production use of the Licensed Work, provided such use does not include offering the Licensed Work to third parties on a hosted or embedded basis which is competitive with HashiCorp’s products

Update (Oct. 17, 2023)

Added clarification to the additional use grant for what is considered competitive and embedded, making the interpretation legally binding.

Current text


[…] packaging the competitive offering in such a way that the Licensed Work must be accessed or downloaded for the competitive offering to operate.

  • What if a software MAY download a HashiCorp product (but works fine without it)? 🤷
  • Does it have to be licensed under BUSL? 🤷

Why, HashiCorp, why?

However, there are other vendors who take advantage of pure OSS models, and the community work on OSS projects, for their own commercial goals, without providing material contributions back.


Real reason

  • Competitors have built products on HC OSS projects
  • HashiCorp is trying to capture part of their revenue

Community reactions

RIP Open Source

  • Past contributions
  • Future contributions?

HashiCorp claims to be the good guy

without providing material contributions back

Concerns about the license

  • Vague language is up for interpretation
  • License could change again

  • Formerly OpenTF
  • Terraform fork
  • Linux Foundation project


  • Truly open source
  • Community-driven
  • Impartial
  • Layered and modular
  • Backwards-compatible

Who is behind it?

Company Pledge Age Terraform product
Harness 5 FTEs* 7 years Partly
Spacelift 5 FTEs* 4 years Yes
env0 5 FTEs* 5 years Yes
Scalr 3 FTEs* 12 years Yes

What’s next?

Terraform vs OpenTofu

  • End users are silent
  • Large companies want to avoid the legal minefield

The saga contnues: OpenBao

  • Vault fork
  • LF Edge (pilot) project (led by IBM)
  • Not officially endorsed yet

What will HashiCorp do?

  • Will they join OpenTofu?
  • Will they change the license again?

Final thoughts

Thank you

Any questions?