Legal issues stalling progress

OpenShift to be open source in ‘next few months’

Red Hat’s platform as a service (PaaS) offering, OpenShift, which is used by many Java developers for cloud deployment, will be fully open source in the very near future, according to a recent update to the product’s FAQ. Writing on Saturday, an OpenShift team member reassured users that “Open Source is coming within the next few months!”

The platform’s marketing materials make much of its open source credentials -- “OpenShift by Red Hat is built on all open-source technologies”, reads the website, emphasising that Red Hat is “the leading open source company”. But due to problems with legal clearance, much of the code remains off-limits.

According to the FAQ, “[p]art of the code came from an acquisition”, almost certainly referring to Red Hat’s November 2010 buy-out of Makara. This complicated provenance has likely created issues around licensing, with some components legally incompatible with others.

OpenShift currently supports applications written in PHP, Perl, Ruby, Python and Java, and the team added long-awaited Node.js support last week. It offers a full environment for building, testing and deploying web apps, with languages, databases and other tools offered via a system of ‘cartridges’.

UPDATE, 28/03: Red Hat has now clarified the timeframe somewhat, committing to open-source the platform at the Open Cloud Conference, which runs from April 30 to May 3 in  Sunnyvale:

During the Open Cloud Conference, Red Hat plans to make available the source code to the automation components that are used to power OpenShift, offering access to the code behind its PaaS platform.

ReadWriteWeb reports that OpenShift will be made available under “the Apache 
License” (presumably Apache 2.0) and hosted on GitHub. Isaac Roth clarifies that only ‘trivial’ parts of the project (e.g. Red Hat’s proprietary sign-up page) will be held back.

Louis Goddard

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