Proxmox VE 3.1 – Subscription required for enterprise updates

The latest Proxmox VE 3.1 release requires a valid subscription to access stable updates, security patches and bug-fixes. Unsurprisingly this has stirred the community and caused a bit of a divide. The divide however seems to be between those who think that open source means free software (as in no price tag attached), and those who understand the concept of software freedom. After all, who said you couldn’t make money with open source software. For the record, Proxmox VE is still licensed under aGPL v3.

The developer, Proxmox Server Solutions GmbH has chosen to provide a stable enterprise repository for their subscribers, while those who want to continue using Proxmox VE without a subscription can do so by accessing what’s called a “no subscription” repository.
The enterprise repository will provide companies using Proxmox VE as their preferred virtualization platform with the highest quality of rigorously tested and stable packages.
The “no subscription” repository on the other hand will contain the packages that will eventually make their way into the enterprise repository. That is not to say that the “no subscription” repository will be an unstable playground, but nevertheless this is where the remaining bugs will be ironed out before a package is “enterprise ready”.

If your business is relaying on Proxmox VE for providing virtualization services for your customers it would make sense from a business perspective to pay for access to the enterprise repository. It also seems sensible to support the company that develops the software by buying subscriptions to ensure the longevity of the Proxmox VE product.

None of this sounds unreasonable, so where exactly did Proxmox Server Solutions GmbH go wrong to unleash the wrath of (some of) their users?

Proxmox 3.1 nagscreen
No valid subscription you say? No soup for you!

Well, they did introduce a nag screen with their latest release that greets you with a message that gives the impression that you’re in violation of the license agreement and should pay for a subscription immediately. That’s not the case though, but the wording seems to be deliberately a bit harsh to herd users into buying a subscription.

The fact that there is no option to disable the nag screen, nor to enable the “no subscription” repository from within the user interface, well I admit to question the wisdom of that. This “in your face” approach should have been avoided altogether in favor of documentation regarding the latest important changes, and an option to allow the user to enable the “no subscription” repository and thus disabling the nag screen. Why not make the release notes and other relevant news accessible from within the Proxmox VE software to keep users up to date with the latest development.

You might question their strategy, but if it increases revenue then I guess Proxmox Server Solutions GmbH is happy with their choices regardless of some minor passing tarnish to their name.

Personally I’m a bit disheartened by these changes as I’ve been using Proxmox VE for years to my satisfaction, but to be honest, if my first experience had been with the latest 3.1 release then I would probably have discarded it. Realistically though, since I’ve been a freeloader all this time it wouldn’t have made any difference for Proxmox Server Solutions GmbH. At the end of the day, if you don’t like where the project is heading you’re free to say so long and thanks for all the fish.

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