Development / Open Source

This Week in Programming: AWS Completes Elasticsearch Fork with OpenSearch

17 Apr 2021 6:00am, by

This week, Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced the OpenSearch project, offering what it says is a community-driven, open source fork of Elasticsearch and Kibana. I hesitate to say this is the final chapter in the saga we have been following for some years now.

Earlier this year, AWS found itself in the surprising position of suddenly being hailed as an open source savior, where previously it had been demonized as an internet bully. It’s been a bit of a back and forth, but the gist of it is this: AWS had previously offered ElasticSearch as a paid offering, something that the open source software’s original creator, Elastic, took issue with. In this affair, much of the internet took the side of Elastic, perceiving them as being taken advantage of by big, bad AWS. Who could compete with an internet giant such as AWS, after all?

Everything flipped in January of this year, however, when Elastic decided it had had enough, changing the license for both Elasticsearch and Kibana from Apache 2.0 to a dual license under the Server Side Public License (SSPL) and the Elastic License. Both of these licenses involve restrictions on the use of the software, something many, such as the Open Source Initiative, took issue with, as we detailed at that time.

Now, with this week’s announcement of the OpenSearch project, everything is being offered as open source under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (ALv2). The project includes OpenSearch (derived from Elasticsearch 7.10.2) and OpenSearch Dashboards (derived from Kibana 7.10.2), as well as the Open Distro for Elasticsearch, AWS’s previous distribution of Elasticsearch. Getting the codebase to this point, the company writes in its announcement, “required substantial work to remove Elastic commercial licensed features, code, and branding,” but will now provide “a foundation on which everyone can build and innovate.” Nonetheless, they say that this code should be considered in alpha, with a beta expected in the coming weeks, and production-readiness slated for mid-2021.

Now, while this all sounds fine and dandy, there is one point of slight contention for those of you who want to debate the inherent goodness (or lack thereof) of this move: trademark.

AWS writes that it has “published permissive usage guidelines for the OpenSearch trademark, so you can use the name to promote your offerings,” while Microsoft Java lead Bruno Borges argues that the trademark restrictions make OpenSearch less than fully open. On this point, AWS engineer Matthew Wilson contends that the trademark restrictions on OpenSearch are far less than some others out there, and simply define what derived works can be called, not whether or not they can be created and distributed in the first point. Wilson points to a guiding principle in his argument that declares that “forks and distributions are welcome.”

“While a goal of this project is to produce high-quality software that can be directly useful for a wide range of users, it is also a goal to produce one shared component of a diverse supply chain of software used to build products and services. Innovation and building value that is ‘downstream’ of this effort is encouraged, as is ‘upstream first‘ collaboration to enable innovation that is generally useful. We adopt open, non-discriminatory policies that enable downstream consumption of the software produced by this effort in a ‘distribution’ model to correctly identify its origin, and to also market products using a common name. We ask forks to rename their effort to avoid confusion, and we avoid introducing artificial impediments to do so. An exit should always be an option for someone that fundamentally disagrees with a decision.”

As for Elastic, mum’s the word on the latest move by AWS, as far as we can tell.

This Week in Programming

  • The Absurd Saga of FSF & RMS: A few weeks back, we took a brief look at the response to the return of Richard M. Stallman (RMS) to the Free Software Foundation (FSF). Since then, big names and big sources of funding have signed on to the push to remove RMS from the FSF, both by boycott and by retracting those sources of funding. Then, this last week, both the FSF board and RMS himself offered statements and a bit of a non-apology on the whole ordeal, which further set the internet atwitter. Either way, if you haven’t been keeping up or aren’t sure entirely about what’s going on and what’s at stake, Jennifer Riggins penned a piece this week here at The New Stack that takes a deeper look at why (almost) everyone wants Richard Stallman canceled, and it’s certainly worth the read. It looks not only at the details of the drama itself, but also the larger issues at play in the world of open source and its lacking diversity and inclusion.
  • Perl’s “Chain of Continuous Bullying and Hostility”: While we’re talking about inappropriate behavior in open source communities and the reactions to it, there’s another tale this week involving some “bullying” in the Perl core community. Sawyer X, a Perl developer and member of Perl Steering Committee (PSC), said this week that he was “stepping down from PSC and Core, effective immediately” after he “dared to say that people in Core recognize there is cruft in the language,” which he says was used as “yet another opportunity for some people in this community to bash me.” Sawyer X says that he immediately received hostile messages and that the ordeal is “just one example in a chain of continuous bullying and hostility I’ve been receiving in recent years, especially in the last year, at the hands of Perl community members,” leading to his decision to step down. “Please remember that just because one holds a public role, it does not mean another can belittle, harass, publicly shame, or bully them,” he writes. “You won. I quit.” For more context on the move, head on over to The Register’s piece on the to-do in the Perl community, which looks at where this came from and what it means for a language that’s already been struggling to find its way forward.

  • Docker Desktop’s Apple M1 Silicon Support Goes GA: Late last year, Docker previewed support for Apple’s M1 silicon in its Docker Desktop application, and now the company has said that that functionality is now generally available. After “nearly 45,000 installs of the tech preview,” the company says that developers found the preview to be “faster and quieter and just as easy to get up and running.” With this additional support, which the company touts alongside support for ARM and x86 architectures, they says the developers will now be able to “build and run end-to-end on the ARM architecture from Docker Desktop on their M1-powered Macs to ARM-based cloud servers such as AWS Graviton 2.” We know that for those of you out there with your speedy new M1 chipsets, this is an awaited feature, so get going!
  • GitHub Actions Coming to a CLI Near You: GitHub has announced this week that you can now work with GitHub Actions in your terminal with GitHub CLI. Already, you’ve been able to manage pull requests, issues, gists, and more, and now, GitHub Actions has joined the fun. Read on or watch the intro below for the various ways you can get insight into your workflow runs, manage workflow files, and more. And if you don’t yet have it, head on over and install GitHub CLI to get started.
  • Cloudflare Workers Unbound, Pages Go GA Too: Cloudflare has released both its Workers Unbound and Pages features to general availability this week, after releasing both to beta last year. Workers Unbound, the company’s serverless feature at the edge, is a bit of a re-release of Cloudflare Workers, which the company put out some years ago now, but now says focuses on “cost efficiency, ease of use, and most importantly, compliance.” Workers Unbound, they write, “is intended for applications that need long execution times” and the GA includes “a private beta for Cron Triggers of up to 15 minutes for those who need even longer execution times.” As for Cloudflare Pages, the new GA features is the company’s “fast, secure, and free way for frontend developers to build, host, and collaborate on Jamstack sites” that includes some new features, such as “web analytics, built-in redirects, protected previews, live previews, and optimized images (oh, my!).” Moving forward, they say users can look forward to GitLab and Bitbucket support, Webhooks, A/B testing and more.

The New Stack is a wholly owned subsidiary of Insight Partners, an investor in the following companies mentioned in this article: Docker.

Feature image: William Henry Jackson, photographer (American, 1843 – 1942), Bad Lands on Black Fork., American, 1870–1875, Albumen silver print, 84.XC.873.3892. (J. Paul Getty Museum)

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