Docker sunsets Free Team subscriptions, roiling open source projects

Docker users with a legacy Free Team organization subscription have been told they have one month to convert to a paid tier or risk losing access to their data—a move that might break build automations for many open source projects.

Many Docker users with Free Team accounts are reporting they have received an email from Docker stating they will soon no longer be able to use the service, and must switch to a paid subscription tier ($300/year) or risk losing access to data.

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Docker Team subscriptions give groups of developers an organizational unit for the 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 the data associated with those teams, including Docker images.

The email from Docker, 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 a paid Docker Team subscription. … If you own a legacy Free Team organization, access to paid features—including private repositories, will be suspended on April 14, 2023 … Upgrade your subscription before April 14, 2023 to continue accessing your organization.”

According to the rest of the email, accounts that don’t upgrade will have their data retained for 30 days “after which it will be subject to deletion.”

Many of those filing complaints about this change via a GitHub issue manage open source projects with build dependencies that might break, such as the Mamba project. Some, like Livebook, are already planning to move all containers away from Docker to the GitHub Container Registry, but will have to migrate their older images manually. The Kubernetes project Kind is also mulling options, all of which potentially break workflows that would need to be rebuilt.

One possible alternate path for affected projects is Docker’s Sponsored Open Source program (DSOS), where maintainers of open source projects can receive free Team suibscriptions.

Docker claims “We will defer any organization suspension or deletion while DSOS application is under review, and give organizations at least 30 days before we suspend the organization if the application is ultimately rejected. Any organizations suspended or deleted will not release the namespace, so squatting previous namespaces will not be possible.”

But applicants are reporting Docker has a high volume of applications, and the DSOS program has restrictions that may make some projects difficult to get accepted; e.,g. they must “not have a pathway to commercialization.” Some applicants, such as Neil Hanlon of the Rocky Linux project and Rockert Scheck of the rpki-client project, still haven’t heard back from Docker despite having applied for the program long before the Free Team announcement.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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