Four years ago, there was a guest blog post and discussion about free software and GitLab. That discussion has continued to inform GitLab’s free software philosophy for years and has served as a guiding light for making decisions on how we strike an appropriate balance in our open core strategy. On one hand, we value results – including impressive financial results for our shareholders – and we believe an open core model is the best path to achieve that. It also means making our products better as fast as possible for our customers and users. On the other hand, we want to make sure that users who prefer using only free software can have a positive GitLab experience, as open source communities are important to GitLab.
To make GitLab better faster, we need more data on how users are using GitLab. SaaS telemetry products, which provide analytics on user behavior inside web-based applications, have come a long way in the past few years. They are an important tool for rapidly improving user experiences because you can understand what users are doing (or not doing) in the app. GitLab has a lot of features, and a lot of users, and it is time that we use telemetry to get the data we need for our product managers to improve the experience.
So, we are planning some changes that I will describe below. But rest assured, a very important thing is not changing: GitLab Community Edition will continue to be free software with no changes. If you want to install your own instance of GitLab without proprietary software, GitLab Community Edition (CE) remains a great option, as it is licensed under the MIT License. Many open source software projects use GitLab CE for their SCM and CI needs, and nothing is changing with GitLab CE.