IPFire is Open Source software, and it going to be Open Source for forever

by Michael Tremer, January 22, 2021, Updated January 22, 2021

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I feel that this is a pledge that needs repeating since many projects have recently turned their backs at Open Source software. Here is a quick ready why this is very dangerous to the future of the internet.

I am seriously concerned about the future of the Open Source eco system. Times are tough. The world is battling a pandemic and many companies are in trouble. Some have already shut down, others are close to that and that is a very bad thing in its own right.

Low confidence in business causes that people might be more likely to be made redundant and obviously having a little bit of money on the side would help you sleeping better in the night. But if that money would come from software that you have been developing as a hobby or slightly more than that, I can only tell you: Do not be greedy.

It is sad to see some projects going closed source and leaving loyal users just out there without a home. What now? Maybe your software should have not been free in the first place if the goal is to earn money with it. It is as simple as that.

Not taking money for something makes a product so much more accessible: We know for a fact that IPFire is being used in so many places where a commercial firewall solution would have been too expensive. One option would have been to not use anything at all, but instead IPFire was available and could be used for free.

I do not have a problem with commercial software

...because I do not believe in it. We have seen many projects that have been coming and going and that have changed their shape over time, but I do not think that many of them were successful.

Starting from Bitkeeper, a source code management solution used by the kernel which revoked the license what made Linus start Git - the most often used SCM right now. RedHat has just announced that there will be no more CentOS 8 and has broken a promise without any warning and is now offering discounted licenses for RHEL. I am sure you have all used software that used to be free and that become a commercial product at some point. The list is very long and I am sure we all have fallen victim to such a license change.

Today, pfSense has been added to it, although the project was regarded closed by many people for years. Nevertheless this one makes me particularly sad, since the choice of freely available firewall solutions like IPFire is becoming smaller and smaller.

There is nothing wrong with choosing to release your software under closed terms. Developers can freely decide what license they want to use - just as I do with my own software.

But I am very clearly in the Open Source camp - and let's face it: the Internet is built on this - because it has so many advantages:

  • It can be used for free
  • It can be studied and so many could learn about good software design
  • It is a great thing where many can participate in and it helps building vibrant communities

But most importantly for me:

If you are doing security, and you won't give me the source code, you are doing it wrong

How can I trust you if you are not willing to prove it?

IPFire is Open Source and is regularly reviewed by researchers who send us bug reports and - sometimes even - report vulnerabilities. That allows us to make IPFire better and if you still have any doubt you can hire someone who has the required expertise and have them run you through every single line of code.

Every line of code that is going into IPFire is being reviewed by many people and experts of various areas can join in and help to make it function the best way possible.

We have an open and reproducible build process. You can trust us that you are running the code that you have read and you can verify it by compiling IPFire again on your own computer.

Please help us out

Of course this requires a lot of time. For some people this has become their job, for others it is a really big side job. And of course we need a lot of resources to keep our servers running.

To keep us going, and to give us a little bit extra so that we can push IPFire further and do that even faster, I would to ask you today to donate.

Our software and everything else is free - but it isn't free to us. So we need your donation.