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Containers / Open Source / Software Development

This Week in Programming: Docker and the Internet of Free Software Entitlement

Who can argue with charging companies a mere $5 (to $7 or $21) per user for Docker Desktop when your company is large and pulling in money?
Sep 4th, 2021 6:00am by
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Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m a natural-born complainer when it comes to having to pay for things on the internet — but this whole rigmarole where folks are calling out Docker for pulling a “bait and switch” by beginning to charge for Docker Desktop?

It all just seems a little bit absurd and points to the level of entitlement we have when it comes to using software for free.

After all, the updated pricing and subscription announced by Docker this week preserves Docker Desktop as a completely free piece of software, as it has been, for companies with “fewer than 250 employees AND less than $10 million in annual revenue.” It’s a move that, in my eyes, at least, is perfectly crafted for easy defense in the court of public opinion. Who can argue with charging companies with these particular qualities a mere $5 (to $7 or $21) per user when your company is that large and pulling in that type of money, right?

Obviously, lots of people can argue, as detailed by The New Stack contributor Bruce Gain earlier this week. As you well know, have internet, will argue.

Complaints and their irony aside, the top comment thread on Hacker News regarding the news makes several points regarding the overhead when dealing with licenses and how this might just be enough for enterprises to say “screw it, let’s use something else,” and this is a point I can only wonder about. Given the somewhat minimal nature of the fee itself, will enterprises pony up the per-user cost, and deal with all of the complications regarding onboarding new employees and staying in compliance with licensing, or will they decide that the burden is too much and move on to other alternatives?

If you’re paying attention to Hacker News and Twitter this week, you can see numerous discussions of alternatives, most of which minikube former maintainer Matt Rickard offers in his overview of Docker Desktop alternatives. Of course, the question is whether or not the move to something else — and all of the processes and risks involved in making that move — provide a better return on investment than simply ponying up the subscription fee and helping to keep Docker — the company that really kicked this whole containerization concept into high gear — afloat.

“I think that the outrage over Docker’s decision is far overblown. If you’re an enterprise using Docker Desktop at scale, then you should be paying for support. I’m actually really excited about the current direction of Docker and the focus the team is putting on developer tools,” Rickard aptly concludes.

This Week in Programming

  • GitHub Argues Against “Vague Infringement Allegations”: GitHub recently filed a “friend of the courtbrief in the SAS Institute, Inc. v. World Programming Ltd. case before a Federal Court of Appeals and in a blog post this week, somewhat humorously titled “Vague infringement allegations considered harmful.” (If you’re unfamiliar with the reference, see one edition of this weekly column that looked at the tradition considering things harmful in the world of computers.) In the case at hand, SAS filed a “claim of ‘nonliteral’ infringement,” meaning that it could not point to which “specific lines of code were literally copied, but only that other aspects, like the code’s overall structure and organization, were used.” In the brief, GitHub argues that the claims made by SAS are vague, and that  “vague allegations of nonliteral copyright infringement especially create FUD because the recipients of such accusations frequently have no way to evaluate the risk they are facing.” The effect can be that the software is removed, with no way to clearly fix the problem or push back against misguided claims, and “When a heavily depended-on piece of software is taken offline due to vague allegations of copyright infringement, the entire ecosystem relying on that piece breaks,” GitHub writes.

  • GitHub Removes Rarely Used Git Security Features: One more quick update from GitHub this week on its move to improve Git protocol security on GitHub. The company says it is changing which keys are supported in SSH and removing the unencrypted Git protocol entirely, though it expects that these changes will affect a very small portion of its users. More specifically, it is removing support for all DSA keys, adding requirements for newly added RSA keys, removing some legacy SSH algorithms, and adding ECDSA and Ed25519 host keys for SSH. “Only users connecting via SSH or git:// are affected,” they write. “If your Git remotes start with https://, nothing in this post will affect you.” If you happen to be an SSH user, head on over to the post for full details on the timeline of expected changes.
  • AWS Launches Alpha SDKs for Swift and Kotlin:  AWS this week released two new alpha SDKs: the AWS SDK for Swift and the AWS SDK for Kotlin. For Swift, there was already an iOS SDK, written in Objective C, but the new SDK moves to provide a native Swift SDK that operates on “other platforms such as Linux, macOS, Windows, tvOS, watchOS, etc.” The Swift SDK also enables the use of other AWS services, and the roadmap “outlines the plan for adding features and customizations for specific AWS services to improve functionality.” The AWS SDK for Kotlin, meanwhile, “makes it easy to call AWS services using idiomatic Kotlin APIs” and “enables developers to make API calls to all the supported AWS services.” Again, there is a public roadmap available on GitHub, and a Getting Started guide.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Docker.
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