The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has bought the source code to the recently mothballed RethinkDB NoSQL JSON database. It relicensed the code under the Apache License, and contributed it to The Linux Foundation.
As we reported recently, the news was announced in October that after more than seven years of development, the company behind RethinkDB was shutting down, although RethinkDB and Horizon would continue to be available, distributed under open source licenses.
RethinkDB is an open source NoSQL JSON database designed for web apps. Its main differentiator is that you can tell it to continuously push updated query results to applications in real time, rather than having your app poll for changes.
The new development sees the rights for the source code being passed to the Linux Foundation, and the license changed. This is an important change. Previously, RethinkDB was licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License, Version 3 (AGPLv3), and this was seen by some commentators as a limitation on which companies were willing to use and contribute to the software. CNCF paid $25,000 to purchase the RethinkDB copyright and assets and has re-licensed the software under the ASLv2, one of the most popular permissive software licenses, which enables anyone to use the software for any purpose without complicated requirements.
While a number of the original team of developers for RethinkDB are continuing work on the database, Slava Akhmechet, co-founder of RethinkDB, is now working at Stripe,which describes itself as the world's largest developer-oriented commerce company. Akhmechet has said that he believes the failure of RethinkDB to achieve commercial success was due to the developers picking a terrible market and optimizing the product for the wrong metrics of goodness. In a thread on Github discussing the move to the ASLv2 license, Akhmechet said he thinks the attribution of RethinkDB's problems to the AGPL is:
"entirely pedantic – plenty of companies that claimed to ban AGPL run vanilla Mongo because it's a useful project, and the creditor has no legal course (nor incentive) to hurt the open-source project. The Sword of Damocles only exists in the minds of a small but vocal minority."
Whatever the reasons, it's good to see RethinkDB resurfacing.
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