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From Open Source to Free and Open Source, MinIO is now fully licensed under GNU AGPLv3

From Open Source to Free and Open Source, MinIO is now fully licensed under GNU AGPLv3

With RELEASE.2021-05-11T23-27-41Z MinIO has completed its transition to the GNU Affero General Public License v3.0 (GNU AGPL v3) license, meaning that the server, client and gateway will also be licensed under GNU AGPL v3. You can read more about the license from Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiative. The client SDKs will remain under Apache v2 and the documentation will move to CC BY-SA 4.0.

We began the AGPL v3 journey eighteen months ago in October of 2019. Kubernetes multi-tenant operator stack, management and monitoring console, KES encryption service, Sidekick load-balancer all started with AGPL v3 license. Since that time we have put the vast majority of our code under this license and have been transparent in that intent, including the designation on our home page, download page, pricing page and compliance page. At this point, it is very difficult to avoid the AGPL dependency for any reasonable production environment. Relicensing the remaining core components uniformly under the same copyleft license will remove any ambiguity caused by the mixed license model. Moving to a single license allows us to simplify the design and code organization, for example, we will now embed the new management console and object browser into the server binary.

MinIO updated the headers on the files a few weeks back in preparation of this change. At the time some perceived it to be a “silent” update. It was not. There is no private repo of MinIO - everything we do goes directly into the upstream with full transparency. The license change was no different.

Since that time, MinIO has engaged in a thorough analysis of all of the contributed code. In the spirit of transparency, we are publishing that analysis for the community to review. We have analyzed every contribution since the project began and have categorized them into four groups.

The first group is copyright worthy contributions included in the AGPL v3 release. The second group is non-copyright worthy contributions included in the AGPL v3 release. The third and fourth groups are copyright and non-copyright worthy contributions that were re-written or were edited out of the code over time. We would like the community to take the time to review our analysis (server + client) and provide constructive feedback regarding any omissions.

The source license for the first group of contributions (copyright worthy contributions included in the AGPL v3 release), remains under the Apache License 2.0. They are placed in their own independent “-contrib” files. Despite the presence of some Apache License 2.0 code, the license for the MinIO server, gateway and client is now AGPL v3.

Moving forward we will engage with contributors on a copyright assignment agreement using the AGPL v3 license as the basis.

Underscoring our license change is our commitment to Open Source software. As a firm believer in the Open Source ethos and a respected member of the community, we have a desire for widespread usage and improvement of our code by users, distributors and other community members. The “copyleft” licenses of the Free Software Foundation not only protects the freedoms of programmers, but more importantly they protect the freedoms of all users by preventing proprietary derivatives and forks. MinIO’s constant endeavor is to ensure that all users of a program, or any work based on the program, have all four fundamental freedoms.

MinIO is deeply proud of its commitment to open source and we are excited to work with our customers, partners and community to continue building the best open source object store on the planet.

This is an exciting time for us as an open source company. We are widely recognized as the leading object storage suite in the market today - something that seemed very aspirational when we made our first commit five years ago. Further, we have a very aggressive roadmap on the Kubernetes, manageability and SUBNET fronts - areas that will benefit the individual as well as the enterprise user.

Thank you for taking this journey with us. We look forward to writing the next chapter with you.

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