Terraform Security:

Last Updated on May 31, 2024 by Arnav Sharma

In 2023, the DevOps community witnessed a significant shift with the introduction of OpenTofu, a truly open-source alternative to Terraform. OpenTofu is a fork of Terraform, developed in response to HashiCorp’s decision to change Terraform’s licensing from the Mozilla Public License (MPL) to a Business Source License (BSL). This license change sparked a wave of uncertainty among Terraform users, pushing the community to seek an open-source solution. OpenTofu emerged as that solution, promising to remain open-source forever.

Terraform: A Background

Terraform, developed by HashiCorp, has long been a staple in the world of Infrastructure as Code (IaC). It enables users to define and provision data center infrastructure using HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL). Terraform’s ability to work with various cloud providers such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud has made it indispensable for many DevOps teams.

However, the shift to a BSL has led to concerns within the community about the future openness and accessibility of Terraform. This change has prompted discussions and explorations of alternative tools, leading to the rise of OpenTofu.

The License Change: What It Means

The license change from MPL to BSL in 2023 was a pivotal moment for Terraform users. The BSL imposes more restrictions on the use of Terraform, particularly in commercial contexts. This change by HashiCorp has been perceived as a move towards a more closed-source approach, leading many to question the long-term implications for the Terraform ecosystem.

HashiCorp’s Role

HashiCorp’s decision to alter Terraform’s licensing has had significant repercussions. The company, which has played a crucial role in the development and maintenance of Terraform, is now at the center of a debate about open-source principles and the balance between commercial interests and community contributions..

Transitioning from Terraform to OpenTofu

For many, migrating from Terraform to OpenTofu is a logical step. OpenTofu, being a fork of Terraform, offers a seamless transition for those already familiar with Terraform’s workflow. The OpenTofu initiative aims to provide feature parity with Terraform, ensuring that existing Terraform users can switch without losing functionality or facing steep learning curves.

Comparing Terraform and OpenTofu

Terraform and OpenTofu share a common heritage, with OpenTofu being a fork of Terraform. This means that many of the features and functionalities available in Terraform are also present in OpenTofu. For example, OpenTofu supports the same modules, providers, and state files as Terraform, making it a drop-in replacement for Terraform.

Env0’s Support

env0, a leading infrastructure management platform, has expressed support for OpenTofu. By integrating OpenTofu, env0 continues to provide robust infrastructure automation and management capabilities, leveraging the strengths of OpenTofu’s open-source model.

Why Use OpenTofu?

Choosing to use OpenTofu over Terraform can be advantageous for those who prioritize open-source principles and community-driven development. OpenTofu is published under the MPL, ensuring that it remains free and open-source. This commitment to openness guarantees that the tool will continue to evolve with contributions from the broader community.

Spacelift’s Integration

Spacelift, another key player in the IaC space, has also embraced OpenTofu. As a CI/CD platform for infrastructure, Spacelift’s support for OpenTofu ensures that users can automate their infrastructure deployments with a tool that aligns with open-source values.

Migrating from Terraform to OpenTofu

Migrating from Terraform to OpenTofu is designed to be straightforward. Since OpenTofu is compatible with Terraform’s syntax and state files, users can often switch with minimal changes to their existing setups. The OpenTofu community has provided extensive documentation and support to assist with this transition.

Common Questions About OpenTofu

Common questions about OpenTofu often revolve around its compatibility, stability, and community support. OpenTofu is compatible with Terraform providers, modules, and HCL, ensuring a familiar experience for Terraform users. The project is considered suitable for production use, with a growing community and contributions from many developers and organizations.

For Existing Terraform Users

For those with existing Terraform deployments, the uncertainty brought about by HashiCorp’s license change necessitates careful consideration. While Terraform remains a powerful tool, OpenTofu offers a compelling alternative that maintains the open-source ethos and promises long-term accessibility and community-driven development.


Q: What is HashiCorp’s role in cloud infrastructure management?

HashiCorp is a company known for developing tools to manage cloud infrastructure, including Terraform.

Q: What is Env0 used for in cloud infrastructure management?

Env0 is a platform for managing cloud deployments, providing automation and collaboration features for teams.

Q: How does Spacelift contribute to infrastructure as code?

Spacelift offers a CI/CD platform specifically designed for infrastructure as code, enhancing the management and automation of cloud resources.

Q: What makes an open-source project like OpenTofu significant?

OpenTofu is significant because it is truly open-source, allowing community contributions and ensuring that the project remains open-source forever.

Q: What is the connection between Tofu and Terraform?

Tofu, now known as OpenTofu, is a forked from Terraform, aiming to continue providing open-source infrastructure as code tools after HashiCorp’s license change.

Q: How is the Linux Foundation involved with OpenTofu?

The Linux Foundation supports OpenTofu, helping to ensure it remains an open-source project with community contributions.

Q: What are the differences between OpenTofu and Terraform?

The analysis of OpenTofu and Terraform reveals that while they share a common origin, OpenTofu remains open-source, whereas Terraform has had changes in its licensing.

Q: What is the OpenTofu registry?

The OpenTofu registry is a repository for modules and providers that can be used with OpenTofu to manage cloud infrastructure.

Q: What were the changes in the Terraform license?

HashiCorp made changes to the Terraform license, shifting it from an open-source to a more restricted, closed source model.

Q: How does Terraform vs OpenTofu compare in terms of features?

OpenTofu offers new features and maintains an open-source license, while Terraform has shifted towards a more closed model with its enterprise versions.

Q: What is a “terraform plan”?

A terraform plan is a command used in Terraform to create an execution plan, showing what actions will be taken without actually applying the changes.

Q: Why was OpenTofu forked from Terraform?

OpenTofu was forked from Terraform in response to HashiCorp’s license change, aiming to keep the project open-source and community-driven.

Q: What is the purpose of managing terraform with tools like Spacelift or Env0?

Managing Terraform with tools like Spacelift or Env0 enhances automation, collaboration, and infrastructure as code practices within teams.

Q: What does the term “terraform state” refer to?

Terraform state refers to the state file that tracks the current state of infrastructure managed by Terraform, crucial for planning and applying changes.

Q: What services does Gruntwork provide related to Terraform?

Gruntwork provides reusable infrastructure code, training, and support to help teams use Terraform more effectively.

Q: How does Scalr fit into the OpenTofu and Terraform ecosystem?

Scalr offers a management platform that supports both OpenTofu and Terraform, providing governance, automation, and collaboration tools.

Q: What is the OpenTofu project?

The OpenTofu project is an open-source initiative to continue the development of infrastructure as code tools originally based on Terraform.

Q: How is OpenTofu “truly open source”?

OpenTofu is truly open source because it is developed and maintained with full community involvement and contributions, ensuring transparency and accessibility.

Q: What was the first stable version of OpenTofu?

The first stable version of OpenTofu marked a significant milestone in providing a reliable and open-source alternative to Terraform.

Q: How do community contributions to Terraform impact the ecosystem?

Community contributions to Terraform have historically driven innovation and improvements, a practice continued by the OpenTofu project.

Q: How is OpenTofu part of the open-source infrastructure as code movement?

OpenTofu is a part of the open-source infrastructure as code movement by offering a free and open alternative to Terraform for managing cloud infrastructure.

Q: What are the benefits of using OpenTofu for cloud infrastructure?

OpenTofu provides benefits such as open-source licensing, community support, and a commitment to remaining open-source forever.

Q: How does the uncertainty for Terraform users affect the adoption of OpenTofu?

Uncertainty for Terraform users due to license changes may drive adoption of OpenTofu as a stable, open-source alternative.

Q: What is the goal of the OpenTofu project?

The goal of the OpenTofu project is to provide an open-source, community-driven alternative to Terraform, ensuring continued access to open-source infrastructure as code tools.

Q: How does OpenTofu language compare to Terraform’s?

The OpenTofu language is based on the same principles as Terraform’s, providing familiarity and ease of transition for developers using Terraform.

Q: How does the open-source nature of OpenTofu benefit developers?

The open-source nature of OpenTofu ensures that developers can use, modify, and contribute to the project freely, fostering innovation and collaboration.

Q: What makes the first stable version of OpenTofu important?

The first stable version of OpenTofu is important as it provides a reliable and tested version for users transitioning from Terraform.

Q: What is the role of the OpenTofu team?

The OpenTofu team is responsible for developing, maintaining, and promoting the OpenTofu project, ensuring it meets the needs of the community.

Q: What are the differences between Terraform enterprise and OpenTofu?

Terraform enterprise offers commercial features and support with a closed-source model, whereas OpenTofu provides similar core functionality with an open-source approach.

Q: What changes occurred in Terraform 1.6.x?

Terraform 1.6.x included updates and changes that may have impacted its licensing and functionality, influencing users’ decision to consider OpenTofu.

Q: How do developers manage Terraform effectively?

Developers manage Terraform effectively by using tools like Env0, Spacelift, and Scalr to automate and collaborate on infrastructure deployments.

Q: What is the contribution of the HashiCorp team to Terraform?

The HashiCorp team originally developed and made Terraform, providing a foundation for infrastructure as code practices.

Q: Why did HashiCorp shift Terraform to a closed source model?

HashiCorp shifted Terraform to a closed source model to control its distribution and commercialize its enterprise features.

Q: How does a large community benefit OpenTofu?

A large community benefits OpenTofu by driving development, providing support, and ensuring the project remains open-source and innovative.

Q: What is the process of running Terraform?

Running Terraform involves writing configuration files, planning changes, and applying them to manage cloud infrastructure.

Q: What is the OpenTofu binary?

The OpenTofu binary is the executable file that users run to interact with their cloud infrastructure using OpenTofu.

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