Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The Race to Replace Redis

Steven Vaughan-Nichols (via Hacker News):

For those of you who aren’t open-source licensing experts, this means developers can no longer use Redis’ code. Sure, they can look at it, but they can’t export, borrow from, or touch it.

Redis pulled this same kind of trick in 2018 with some of its subsidiary code. Now it’s done so with the company’s crown jewels.

Redis is far from the only company to make such a move. Last year, HashiCorp dumped its main program Terraform’s Mozilla Public License (MPL) for the Business Source License (BSL) 1.1. Here, the name of the new license game is to prevent anyone from competing with Terraform.

Joe Brockmeier (via Hacker News):

So it should be apparent that code contribution is beside the point. Redis is a venture-backed company that has taken more than $350 million in funding over many rounds since 2011. The company, and its investors, seem to have calculated that they can safely move away from open source to try to capture more revenue.

They have some reason to believe this is the case, if MongoDB’s results are any guide. The company went public in 2017 and moved to the SSPL a little more than a year later. Shortly afterward, major Linux distributions stopped packaging the database because it no longer met their licensing standards. But, by that time, the company had set its sights on a platform model that would encourage developers (and their employers) to use and pay for MongoDB and ancillary offerings with the as-a-service model. Distributing a source-available version of MongoDB could be seen as a loss-leader strategy to reach developers that the company wagered did not care about open-source.


Having to find a replacement to ship in place of Redis is not the only problem for community distributions. Jacob Michalskie called out several services in use by the openSUSE project that will need a Redis replacement, including the Pagure code-hosting software (created and used by Fedora as well) used for code.opensuse.org, and the Discourse forum software.


It is, of course, too soon to predict whether one or more of the forks will gain significant traction—but it seems likely that Valkey will be a credible alternative. The possibility of a swift fork with widespread community and industry backing should give pause to vendors who expect a smooth path after abandoning open source.


Update (2024-04-24): Gergely Orosz:

Redis will probably be the case study on why it’s a terrible idea for a VC-funded company (Redis Labs) to take over a permissive open source project they did not start (Redis), become the de facto owners, and then “rug pull” (change the license).

1 Comment RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

If your are looking for a Redis alternative, maybe you should drop it and its forks and give Dragonflydb a try.

This is a completely different implementation that perform orders of magnitude better, and is a drop-in replacement for Redis (and memcached if you want).

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