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Docker Desktop Changes

Jamie Gaskins
I put the bits into the computers and they give me different bits back. I'm still working out the details of what happens in between.
・1 min read

Docker just updated their terms of use for Docker Desktop that requires a paid subscription for companies that have more than 250 employees or $10M in annual revenue. Some people have some feelings about this that I don’t quite understand. Can someone break it down for me?

Discussion (7)

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manchicken profile image
Michael D. Stemle, Jr. • Edited

This is a system that many people believe is open source. Much of it is, but the primary method of install is not, and it’s understandably frustrating people.

Homebrew, as well as several other package managers throughout several operating systems contain this package, and most folks reasonably conclude that it’s the community edition when in many cases it is not.

The $10M mark and the 250 headcount threshold aren’t terribly uncommon. It’s certainly not as big as they try to make it sound in their release. Most folks I know are installing these tools on their machines themselves, they aren’t having their employers preload it on their boxes. As a result, I think many people are understandably feeling “targeted” or otherwise taking this personally (though I doubt this is what Docker intended for them to feel).

Throw in the hurt feelings from a bunch of the rate-limiting changes, and you’ve got a lot of hurt feelings.

Docker needs to make their money, but they keep on trying to corner enterprises into spending with them by locking down what had been free-of-charge, rather than using the more common approach of adding upgraded features to those who pay.

I’m not sure if there is a “right” or “wrong,” but it doesn’t seem like pissing off a bunch of engineers and their bosses is a great way for Docker to do business.

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jgaskins profile image
Jamie Gaskins Author

I appreciate the explanation. I feel like this doesn't justify the reaction I've been seeing from folks about it, though. That is, it feels like it's not so much Docker pissing off the engineers, but rather the engineers getting pissed off about it. The amount of money it costs is a rounding error if Docker is a core tool for your business.

We have so many real issues in tech to channel that energy on, like rampant sexism by well known engineers.

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Jamie Gaskins Author

To be clear, I realize I was probably preaching to the choir. 😄

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manchicken profile image
Michael D. Stemle, Jr.

Yeah,I think you’re right across the board with one minor exception:I don’t think folks always know what their engineers are using, and I suspect there will be some engineers who are in a legitimately difficult position.

There are also engineers who don’t know how to ask for what they need, and this may require them to have a difficult conversation.

I do think that this was a crappy way for Docker to get money without adding more value (they’re not giving anything new for the money, and most folks are just now learning this wasn’t the open source edition they had installed), but I agree it’s not that big of a deal.

The rate limiting thing was a much bigger issue, but Amazon helped everyone out with public registries.

While I agree that systemic misogyny and systemic racism (and the surrounding intersectionalities) in our field is massive and in need of attention, this is a huge shift in how one of the most commonly used tools. It’s like if you now had to pay royalties for your tool box if the construction site is large enough. It is worthy of critique and rebuke, it’s just not as big a deal as some have made it out to be.

We can handle multiple issues at a time (just like on production support!)

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Jamie Gaskins Author

I don’t think folks always know what their engineers are using, and I suspect there will be some engineers who are in a legitimately difficult position.

There are also engineers who don’t know how to ask for what they need, and this may require them to have a difficult conversation.

That’s fair, however the people I’ve seen complaining about this change the most don’t come across as the people that need this kind of assistance. Highly anecdotal and scoped to my own field of view, admittedly.

While I agree that systemic misogyny and systemic racism (and the surrounding intersectionalities) in our field is massive and in need of attention, this is a huge shift in how one of the most commonly used tools. It’s like if you now had to pay royalties for your tool box if the construction site is large enough. It is worthy of critique and rebuke, it’s just not as big a deal as some have made it out to be.

My interpretation here is that the reactions to this change you and I have each observed have very different intensities. I’m talking about people I respect (not even just the usual suspects on HN) virtually frothing at the mouth over the change, which is why I made the comparison to more serious issues.

But that’s also the reason I asked here instead of asking those people about it directly. Based on their clearly passionate reactions, I couldn’t expect a dispassionate explanation.

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Junior Mendonça

As far as I don't need Docker Desktop and not in range of employees or revenue ammounts, I'm not worried about paying for using that. And I can switch to other open source alternatives. #NotABigDeal ;)

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Jamie Gaskins Author • Edited

This is where I'm at with it, too. I pay like $5/mo for my own personal account so I can host more than 1 private container repo anyway (which I completely forgot about) so maybe it's just people worrying about having to set up a subscription when they didn't before? I feel like if Docker is part of your business, even if it's just to build the containers, this is such a tiny thing to worry about.

Company, after dropping $30,000 for this month's AWS bill: What?! I have to pay $7 per month per engineer (on the order of 1/20 of 1% of that engineer's salary in the US) for Docker now?! This is outrageous!

Edit, for clarity: Not my company 😂 Just the reactions I've been seeing from folks