Red Hat/Fedora decide MongoDB’s SSLP doesn’t fit

MongoDB's bright idea

MongoDB’s January blues deepened this week as the team behind the Red Hat-backed Fedora Linux distribution confirmed it had added the open source database’s Server Side Public License to its “bad”list.

The move came as it emerged Red Hat – Fedora’s sponsor – had nixed MongoDB support in RHEL 8.0.

The official Fedora Twitter feed this week linked to a post by Red Hat Technical and Community Outreach Program Manager Tom Callaway which said: “ After review, Fedora has determined that the Server Side Public License v1 (SSPL) is not a Free Software License. It is the belief of Fedora that the SSPL is intentionally crafted to be aggressively discriminatory towards a specific class of users.

Even worse, Fedora also believes that MongoDB is also guilty of spreading FUD: “Additionally, it seems clear that the intent of the license author is to cause Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt towards commercial users of software under that license. To consider the SSPL to be “Free” or “Open Source” causes that shadow to be cast across all other licenses in the FOSS ecosystem, even though none of them carry that risk.”

Fedora’s statement came as it emerged that the developer notes for the beta of RHEL 8.0, released back in November, stated: “Note that the NoSQL MongoDB database server is not included in RHEL 8.0 Beta because it uses the Server Side Public License (SSPL).”

We asked Red Hat if it could throw any further light on the matter, and they sent a statement from Richard Fontana, senior commercial counsel, Red Hat: “In the community projects we participate in and maintain, we support a broad range of software licenses that reflect established community standards about what is legitimately open source…The leadership of the Fedora Project carefully determined that the Server Side Public License v1 does not meet those standards”.

The response from the Red Hat/Fedora camp came just a week after AWS launched a MongoDB compatible service using the non-SSPL MongoDB 3.6 API.

MongoDB shrugged off AWS’s move as a case of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, but the move put the SSPL – as well as AWS’s attitude to open source – in the spotlight.

We asked MongoDB if it anticipated similar responses from any other vendors. We haven’t heard back yet.