I’ve seen a bunch of comments as well as questions at FOSDEM around the licensing of Terraform providers and how that impacts OpenTofu. Here is an attempt to clear up some of the confusion.
Frequently asked questions
- Do all Terraform providers need to be forked because of the HashiCorp Terraform license change?
No! All providers, even ones written and maintained by HashiCorp, are still under an open source license. Most providers out there are not written or maintained by HashiCorp, they have no control over their licensing.
- What if HashiCorp makes a backwards breaking change to providers in the next release of Terraform?
That is not a viable option, even for HashiCorp. While HashiCorp does maintain some of the major providers, most of the providers in the ecosystem are written and maintained by third-party developers. Breaking all providers would mean every provider needs to be changed, HashiCorp would essentially be handicapping themselves. If they introduce new requirements to providers, then provider authors would need to implement the requirements. OpenTofu could follow suit.
- What if HashiCorp changes the license of their providers?
HashiCorp has publicly, and explicitly, stated that they will not do this. If they do, then those providers will need to be forked, but only those providers. Given how publicly HashiCorp has stated that they will not change their providers, that would be a big breach of trust.