What is OpenTofu?

By Josh Pollara on Oct 2, 2023
What is OpenTofu?

Some background first

Terraform was first released in 2014. It immediately changed how operators managed cloud infrastructure. Instead of clicking around in the console, users were able to provision infrastructure using a configuration language called HCL.

Over the years, Terraform gained extreme popularity. Today, there is a large ecosystem of modules, providers, and developers.

Initially, Terraform was released as an open-source project. In August 2023, HashiCorp announced the sudden transition to a non open-source license referred to as BUSL. A business license that allows for source code to be available but not classified as open-source. There are various limitations on the use of the code.

Introducing OpenTofu

OpenTofu is a fork of the MPL-licensed Terraform. It is designed to be a drop-in replacement for legacy Terraform. The OpenTofu project joined The Linux Foundation on September 20th, 2023.

Why was OpenTofu created?

To fully understand why OpenTofu was created, check out the full manifesto. Creating a fork of a project is always a hard decision. Here are a few reasons why the community felt it was necessary to fork:

  • The BUSL license is vague and confusing making it difficult for companies to leverage Terraform.
  • HashiCorp has decided to remain vague on what is and what is not allowed when it comes to using Terraform.
  • The overall success of Terraform has been a community effort. Terraform should remain open-source.
  • Many individuals and organizations heavily rely on Terraform. A fork that’s part of The Linux Foundation ensures a 100% open-source pathway forever.

Who is behind OpenTofu?

The OpenTofu project is part of The Linux Foundation. See the announcement here. Additionally, there is large support from the industry. Some of the companies supporting OpenTofu are Terrateam, Harness, Gruntwork, Spacelift, env0, Digger, Massdriver, Terramate, and more.

Benefits of OpenTofu

There are 20+ engineers already working on OpenTofu. This is vastly more than Terraform. As a result, OpenTofu will be able to rapidly develop new features and fix bugs.

Some of the benefits from a large team working on the project:

  • Ensuring backwards compatibility with Terraform
  • Deciding what to work on based on community feedback
  • Developing a product that small and large enterprises can rely on
  • Keeping the community up to date with any and all development

Learn more

To learn more about OpenTofu, visit the official website.

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