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How OpenTofu Becomes A Drop-in Replacement For Terraform | Sebastian Stadil


Guest: Sebastian Stadil (LinkedIn)
Organization: Linux Foundation (Twitter

HashiCorp, creator of Terraform, recently announced it was changing the software’s license from a Mozilla Public License v2.0 (MPLv2) to a Business Source License v1.1,  leaving a sour taste in many users’ mouths. Yet within weeks, the community came together and announced OpenTofu that would serve as a drop-in replacement.

During the Open Source Summit in Bilbao, Spain, we sat down with Core OpenTofu Contributor Sebastian Stadil to deep dive into the project and understand how exactly it’s going to help customers who relied on Terraform but couldn’t continue due to license change.

  • Stadil tells us how HashiCorp’s decision to change Terraform from an open source license to a business source license led to the creation of OpenTofu. He talks about how the community came together to make a fork under the MPL license, OpenTofu.
  • This is not the first time a company has started off with an open source license, built up a large community, before changing the license abruptly to a business source license. However, Stadil discusses why he feels humbled at the speed at which the community rallied to make a variable fork of Terraform. He explains their progression over the past five weeks to now being part of the Linux Foundation.
  • Stadil talks about the three pillars he thinks companies need to have if they want to make products that are open source: an open license, an open community and open development. He discusses how many companies do not have all three and why he thinks this is one of the reasons OpenTofu has had so much traction.
  • Stadil talks about the decision to be part of the Linux Foundation and how they have helped them, such as assisting in forming a Technical Steering Committee, and with legal framework to file trademarks and conservator license agreements.
  • Large organizations like Alliance who use Terraform extensively and have a large Terraform code base, have been significantly impacted by the change in licensing. Stadil describes how they have been pleased to have the drop-in replacement of OpenTofu. He discusses how OpenTofu needs to be compatible with Terraform while still enabling other companies to move to OpenTofu without the need for a company-wide movement to it.
  • OpenTofu already has two dozen vendors providing services on top of it. However, Stadil feels that people still tend to gravitate towards an open source project. He explains how it becomes self-reinforcing and the benefits of such a community around a project.
  • Stadil talks about some of the guidelines that have been put in place for developers working on OpenTofu, such as, not looking at any Terraform code before developing OpenTofu code to ensure there are no IP issues.
  • Although OpenTofu will not share a codebase with Terraform, they still want to be backwards compatible and to continue to have that interoperability long term. Stadil talks about the process they will have in place to consider implementing new features in order to remain interoperable with Terraform, and from there, to move towards having features and functionality suggested by the community that Terraform will not have.
  • OpenTofu is being driven by the Terraform user community who were shocked by the announcement to change the open source license. Stadil discusses the community’s passion for Terraform and how this is forging the path ahead to keep it open source.
  • Large organizations with hundreds of teams are likely to move at different speeds and priorities, so some may continue to use Terraform while others will move over to OpenTofu. However, Stadil feels that in the future there will be less reasons to continue to use a proprietary product instead of an open source one that will have superior features and capabilities.
  • Stadil explains why he thinks cloud providers will embrace OpenTofu such as enabling them to provide a better developer experience for their customers. He talks about the potential risks for cloud providers to have an intermediary like Terraform between their customers and them, where they do not have any control over how well it is working. He discusses how OpenTofu can help them provide a better developer experience.

This summary was written by Emily Nicholls.