Docker sunsets Free team subscriptions, restless open source projects

Docker users with a legacy Free Team organization subscription have been told they have a month to switch to the paid tier or risk losing access to their data, which could break the build automation of many open source projects.

Many Docker users with Free Team accounts are reporting receiving an email from Docker saying they will soon no longer be able to use the service and must upgrade to a paid subscription ($300/year) or risk data access.

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Docker Team subscriptions give developer groups an organizational unit for developers associated with a given set of Docker repositories. The free version of this offering has been widely used by open source projects. Removing it means losing data associated with those teams, including Docker images.

Email from Docker mail, according to multiple reports such as Alex Ellis of OpenFAAS, states “Free Team organizations are a legacy subscription tier that no longer exists. This tier included many of the same features, rates, and functionality as the paid Docker Team subscription. … If you have a legacy Free Team organization, access to paid features, including private repositories, will be suspended on April 14, 2023… Renew your subscription by April 14, 2023 to continue to access your organization.”

According to the rest of the email, account data that is not updated will be retained for 30 days “after which it will be subject to deletion.”

Many of those filing complaints about this change via the GitHub issue manage open source projects with build dependencies that can be broken, such as the Mamba project. Some, like Livebook, are already planning to migrate all containers from Docker to GitHub Container Registry, but will have to manually migrate their old images. Kubernetes’ Kind project is also looking at options, all of which can break workflows that need to be rebuilt.

One alternative route for affected projects is Docker’s Sponsored Open Source program (DSOS), where open source project maintainers can receive free Team subscriptions.

Docker claims: “We will delay any suspension or delisting of an organization while the DSOS application is under review and will give organizations at least 30 days’ notice if we will suspend the organization if the application is ultimately rejected. Any entity that is suspended or deleted will not release the namespace, so previous namespaces cannot be broken.”

But applicants report that Docker has a high volume of applications and the DSOS program has limitations that may make it difficult for some projects to be accepted; e., for example they should not have “a commercialization path”. Some applicants, such as Neil Hanlon of the Rocky Linux project and Rockert Scheck of the rpki-client project, have yet to hear from Docker despite applying to the program long before the Free Team announcement.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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