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November 13, 2019, Mirantis Acquires Docker Enterprise Platform Business. The same day, Docker Inc. claims they will now focus on docker Desktop and Docker Hub.

Given those changes, will Docker CE continue to share the same codebase as Docker Enterprise, or should we consider it now as a fork like MySQL vs MariaDB?

  • Docker is the single best thing to happen to software deployment in 20 years, not just because of what it did for eliminating "works on my machine" build problems, but because of what it enabled. – Mitwa Nair Nov 15 '19 at 6:17
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    Hi Sylvain. I think this is quite an important issue for our community. Although time will probably tell, I for one would like to see this question "answered" in the SE sense, and not merely closed as too broad or opinion based. Might I suggest that you clarify the terms so that it's answerable? What would it mean for Docker Community Edition to "die"? That would be great, thanks – Bruce Becker Nov 15 '19 at 7:56
  • Thanks for your comments. @Bruce I must admit it is not necessarily clear in my mind. It is something along the lines of "will Docker CE will continue to share the same codebase as Docker Enterprise, or should we consider it now as a fork like MySQL vs MariaDB?" Do you think this is better suited for the SE model? Does that capture the concerns of the community as you feel them? I'm open to any suggetions. – Sylvain Leroux Nov 15 '19 at 11:22
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    @030 Done. Thanks. – Sylvain Leroux Nov 15 '19 at 12:42
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    @030 I also have changed the title. But I'm not quite satisfied with that. If someone with better English skills than me feel the need to edit that (or the question, btw)--don't hesitate ;) – Sylvain Leroux Nov 15 '19 at 12:50
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I'd ask the question the other way around, rather than will Docker CE continue to share the Docker Enterprise codebase, it's whether Docker Enterprise will continue to share the upstream Docker CE / Moby codebase. They've always maintained an internal closed source fork for the Enterprise code, which has additional features. However, the development process of CE has always been open source, and features added to CE were mirrored from CE to the Enterprise codebase. The acquisition of Enterprise didn't change that it was already a fork of CE. And the acquisition did not include the CE code or any of the other open source projects, those continue to be managed by Docker, which they will maintain as a core component to their business (CE is embedded in the various Desktop products, and Hub has little value without it).

The biggest downside I see to the acquisition is the loss of staff from Docker to Mirantis. I'm sure many people had a dual role working on Enterprise and CE, and a significant chunk of the staff went to Mirantis. That said, the CE repos are open source, Mirantis staff can submit PR's for changes they'd like usptream, and they can pull down new releases of CE into the Enterprise product. The end result for users may end up looking identical to what we have today, just two close companies coordinating, rather than two sides of the same company. From an open source perspective, having more outside contributions is actually a good thing, since it forces governance and planning into the open, that in the past may have happened with internal meetings.

Disclaimer: I have been exposed to private discussions from the Captains program on this topic (not much since they are still working this out) and have done my best to keep my answer to only the public knowledge.

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  • Thanks a lot for all those clarifications, BMitch – Sylvain Leroux Nov 19 '19 at 10:56

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