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Docker forces Open/Free Source Projects to Subscriptions

The Docker project has announced that it will charge open/free source project organisations to pay 420 USD annually. The announcement was published on 15 March 2023 on their blog. The details were not clear, because the announcement left a lot of room for speculation. Furthermore, the move creates the fear of the Leftpad module débacle that hit the NPM repository a few years ago. The author of the Leftpad module removed the module, and then a lot of other modules depending on this module broke. A similar situation can occur if projects like MariaDB, Postgres, or others delete their images from Docker Hub.

The move has created a lot of discussions about what organisations need to use this new subscriptions scheme. It looks a lot as if Elon Musk had bought Docker in order to shut it down. Obviously this is not the case. If the intention is to clean old accounts that haven't been used in a long time, then there are other ways to do this. Targeting the organisation accounts is not the right tool. Few open/free source projects are run by organisation bodies that can afford a yearly subscription fee. Especially smaller projects rely on donations. On the other hand, Docker heavily relies on open/free source projects for its own business model. It seems Docker doesn't care or realise this. Our recommendation is to be careful for using Docker for mission critical applications. We will add it to the list of technologies we won't use internally for production code. This is a harsh measure, but it saves headaches and maintenance costs on a long-term perspective.

There are other options available. The second blog article explains what you can do in order not to depend on the Docker infrastructure any more. Other platforms offer their own repositories which you can use. If you want to rely on your container applications, then you need a reliable partner. Docker is apparently not interested in stability any more.