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Pachyderm Community License FAQ

March 10, 2020

What is the new Pachyderm Community License?

Pachyderm is moving some components of Pachyderm Platform to a source-available limited license.

What does this mean?

We remain committed to the culture of open source, developing our product transparently and collaboratively with our community, giving our community and customers source code access, and the ability to study and change the software to suit their needs

Under the Pachyderm Community License, you can access the source code and modify or redistribute it; there is only one thing you cannot do, and that is use it to make a competing offering. Here is the language:

“The License excludes use in a product that … is marketed as a substitute for the functionality or value of the Software.”

For example, it does not allow hosting of Pachyderm Community Edition, Pachyderm Enterprise, or Pachyderm Hub, or other software licensed by Pachyderm Inc. as an online service offering. If you are not doing what is excluded, this license change will not affect you.

Why did we do this?

We think it is a necessary step. This lets us invest heavily in code that we distribute for free, while sustaining a healthy business that funds this investment.

We aren’t alone in looking at alternative licensing mechanisms. Other companies have recently gone through licensing adjustments, attempting to solve for the public cloud dynamic.

While our main repo is under the Pachyderm Community Edition License, our language clients, examples, and other connectors will remain open source under the Apache 2.0 license.

Can I download, modify, or redistribute the code?

Yes. The code is all still right there on GitHub.

Can I embed the Pachyderm software in software products I distribute?

Yes, you can, as long as the products are not substitutes for our software.

Can I embed Pachyderm in a SaaS offering I create?

Yes, provided the SaaS offering is not a substitute for the functionality or value of Pachyderm. In other words, you can create your own products or services that run on top of the Pachyderm platform. For example, if you are building a SaaS data annotation service and you want to include Pachyderm Community Edition in the implementation of that offering, that is completely fine. A data annotation service does not compete with the Pachyderm platform itself.

Is Pachyderm open source?

Strictly speaking it is “source-available.” Many people use the phrase “open source” in a loose sense to mean that you can freely download, modify, and redistribute the code, and those things are all true of the code under the Pachyderm Community License. However, in the strictest sense “open source” means a license that meets the Open Source Definition or is approved by the Open Source Initiative (“OSI”). The Pachyderm Community Edition License is not approved by the OSI and likely would not be as it excludes the use case of creating a competing offering of the code.

What if I create a competing service but give it away for free. Is that “competitive?”

Yes. That’s just a competitive product with a price of zero. “Competitive” means that a product or service is an economic substitute.

I’m confused about what use cases are competitive.

The license describes what it means to be competitive, and it’s used in the ordinary sense.

  • A product is competitive with the Software where a product is marketed as a substitute for the functionality or value of the Software.
  • A product may compete regardless how it is designed or deployed, including if it is ported to different platforms or programming languages, and whether or not it is provided free of charge.
  • A “product” includes any product, service (such as software-as-a-service) or other good.

Let’s go through a specific example. Say that you are building a SaaS data annotation service and you want to use Pachyderm Community Edition in the implementation of that offering. You can absolutely do that since this service does not directly compete with any Pachyderm product.

When will the Pachyderm: Community Edition License be effective?

It will apply to Pachyderm 1.10 and later releases. Previous releases and bug fixes to such releases (if any) will remain under the Apache 2.0 license.

Can I still use older versions of the Pachyderm Open Source Software?

Yes. Our new license release does not affect your rights to keep using software you received in the past under our open source license terms. So, if you are still using version 1.9.x or previous, you can continue to use it in the same way you have been using it. And if you’re not making available a competing product as described in the exclusion, you can use 1.10 and onwards the way you were using 1.9.x.

That said, we may eventually stop releasing patches to the Pachyderm 1.9.x, and it may become outdated or unsecure. We don’t recommend being left behind, and we encourage you to upgrade to the latest version of Pachyderm if that becomes a problem.

My company has a policy against using code with a non-commercial restriction. What should I do?

The Pachyderm Community Edition License is not a “non-commercial” license restriction. It only prevents one narrow kind of excluded purpose, which is using our software in a competing offering.

I’d like to customize some of the Pachyderm Community Edition software. Can I?

Yes. The license change does not restrict the creation of modifications.

What if I want to build software that I’m unsure if it competes with Pachyderm or not, and I want to check? Who do I contact?

Please reach out to us at for any questions. Our goal isn’t to stifle innovation, we’re more than happy to collaborate with other projects with similar open source missions. We’re happy to discuss possible commercial (or non-commercial) agreements to prevent any misunderstandings or future license challenges.

Why didn’t Pachyderm use AGPL?

AGPL doesn’t solve the problem we are trying to fix. AGPL contains no license restrictions at all, so it allows cloud service providers to sell services using the exact software being licensed, and charge for it, without any limitation. This means the software developer has become the unpaid developer and maintainer for the cloud service provider—which is not a scenario we want to enable.

Also, AGPL is too cumbersome for our customers who need to redistribute commercial products. If you put AGPL code in a distributed program, you have to open source the whole program, and that’s more burdensome than our license. We want you to be able to embed our code in proprietary applications, change it and not worry about open sourcing any of your changes. We don’t think that proprietary applications are bad, and we think it’s great if you use Pachyderm software to create them.

We have a Pachyderm Enterprise subscription. How does this change affect us?

If you have entered into a separate enterprise agreement with us, the new release will not restrict your rights under such agreement. For any specific questions, please reach out to your account representative or

Does the Pachyderm Community License impose a general prohibition against competing with Pachyderm?

It does not. It only prevents you from using our software to compete with our software.

Is the Pachyderm: Community License a EULA

No, a EULA only gives you the right to use; the Pachyderm Community License grants other rights as well.