Will Rancher remain Free?

First let me say that I am amazed by Rancher and really appreciate all the work that you are doing with your products. That being said I kind of can’t believe that Rancher is Free and I am wondering if your plans are for it to remain that way?

Docker technology has taken off and I have jumped on board - primarily using Rancher as my go to “tool set”.

Unfortunately I have been burned a few times in the past by learning and becoming well versed in a technology product such as Rancher, when it is free, only for it to become a pay product later at a cost that is just to high for it to remain a viable option for me to use anymore.

I have been reading as much as I can about Rancher - trying it out - testing new things and an becoming very familiar with it and how it works. I really, really love the product and hope to be able to continue to use it in the future.

Thanks All -

Thanks for the question. Rancher will always be open source and free software. As a company, Rancher Labs will provide a supported version of the software for sale, but users will always be welcome to use the open version of Rancher under its Apache license for free.

That is so great to hear!
I am really a huge fan of Rancher I have been mentioning it to everyone that I talk to about Docker stuff.
Really excited that Rancher will always be free and Open Source as well - it is such a great product!

Thanks again for the reply and info.


Any insights on possible differences on editions and pricing models?

Pricing is based on the number of vCPUs under management in a Rancher deployment, and whether business hour, or 24x7 support is required. If you need more specifics, don’t hesitate to email us at info@rancher.com for a support quote.

How does Rancher Labs think about contributing and extending functionality to rancher, or even build high level systems with rancher?

Not sure exactly what you mean so I’ll split this in to 2 parts:

We welcome pull-requests from the community; For anything significant it would probably be best for both sides if you discuss beforehand on GitHub, so that you know we’re interested in merging a particular change and the approach we think it should take.

In general we’re moving towards doing as much as possible as an external (to Rancher) services that consume metadata rather than actually changing the core orchestration (Cattle). This is for example how the Route53 and other DNS providers work. So what you want to do might not even involve us, or it could go into the rancher-catalog or community-catalog.

For customers, we potentially prioritize features or do custom development, or work you to use Rancher to accomplish something else. For example using Rancher to deploy a HA installation of your on-premise software for your customers. For that kind of thing you need to talk to the business guys though (@smw355), I just build stuff :smile:.

@vincent regarding service in Rancher I totally agree. I we like the concept of stacks which consume meta data but ALSO plugin somehow in Rancher (at least from a UI and API perspective) in Example you integrate a kubernetes “distribution” as stack in rancher and in turn in the UI the Kubernetes stuff appears.

Thats what I mean with build / Integrate functions in rancher. Can you give me a hint how such a stack is build which not only is managed by rancher but also integrates with the rancher platform like convoy and kubernetes.

@smw355 regarding that we can have a talk. we are focussing on the orchestration of more network centric application like Services providing network functions for I.e. VPN termination, GRE tunneling etc. in this area rancher may needs to manage another network model then “just” IPSec over the top. I.e. L3 VPN over a MPLS core.

Definitely, can you email me at Shannon at rancher dot com

sounds nice. Is there any public document available which backs this statement legally?

The Apache license covers your legal rights to use all the published code (and obligations if you modify it).

I’m a software engineer and not a lawyer, but there exists no such construct as you’re asking for in the legal system and any statement would be unenforceable if a company wanted to change it. So you’re just going to have to trust people.

@smw355 is one of the cofounders of the company. The leadership team has a history of making the open-source business model work ( most recently CloudStack/cloud.com). And much of the technical team joined here specifically because of it, myself included.

thanks. A little clearer now.

I guess practically that means whether @smw355 or anybody else in charge decides to close the source code at any point in time the Community would be able to take the last version that has been published Open Source and continue developing a fork (using a different name I assume), is that so?

Yes; to be clear, what I said applies to any open-source project…

The owner can change the license for the source or stop publishing it altogether, but they cannot retroactively change it. So anyone that has a copy of the source under its old license is free to do what they wish with it (that the old license permits). As you said typically the name of the project is protected by trademark so the fork often has a different name.

hm, there might different scenarios whether one person or single entity has the say vs something like a foundation with a group of persons/entities owning the copyright

If there any difference between the supported version of the software for sale, and the FREE open version?

@Jialiang_Song No; customers run rancher/server:stable. Any custom work we do for individual customers becomes part of the OSS code (when possible) or is packaged as a separate standalone private catalog template.

Just to add to Vince’s comment, while this is definitely today, in the future, Rancher Labs may release some additional products or features that are not free and open source.


What is the curreny pricing policy? Are some features locked behind a paywall?

Nothing has changed from above.