I really like the concept, the only thing I'd nitpick is that I didn't quite dig the stack spread (C++, go, php and python) and that I found the grommox code very hard to follow, not due to the inherent complexity of the tasks but because of how inconsistent and messy the code is which makes it difficult to consider it an improvement.
I used to run an exchange4linux server as well as another open-source variant before that (but forgot the name... This must have been 20 years ago). The biggest issue was always the Outlook plugin that had to be used, so if Grommunio has really managed to do the communication with the server natively, this seems like a big win.
It's straight up FOSS. What they're selling is support. I don't know if anyone responding here has read the rest of the Product page, but I thought it was quite clear:
> In order to be able to use the features with support...
> Our individual support services for the features of the product can be found below under ‘Packages & Pricing‘.
The comparison table distinguishes between features with and without support, and "Support not included" in the part of the table that is just about support. They never mention selling anything but support.
Sure, but then they say "Community - Max 5 user - free" (on the page you link), and Community has no support. The point is they can't restrict the user count on a piece of AGPL software they aren't providing any hosting or support for.
I suspect what they mean by "max 5 user" (based on my experience dealing with enterprise software vendors) is that the terms of the "community" support plan covers deployments with up to that many users - i.e. there's nothing technically stopping you from creating more users, just that it would be outside the terms of whatever support contract exists for that "community" "price" tier.
This is consistent for a lot of enterprise software out there, where the software won't necessarily prevent you from creating more users than you have licenses/seats for, but the vendor will absolutely bring this up when negotiating a renewed support contract. Only difference here is that the support is licensed separately from the software itself (whereas for proprietary enterprise products they're usually one and the same).
It's more that the AGPL allows you to use the software without any such restriction. If they license it under the AGPL you can use it with as many users as you want. In fact it requires that if you host an instance you make the code available to the users, for them to use/host/modify/distribute themselves (section 13, "Remote Network Interaction").
They could publish it under a modified AGPL, an "AGPL with user count restriction" of some kind (which wouldn't be AGPL at all - they would have to modify it heavily for it not to be a self-contradictory mess). However:
A) They would need to own the copyright in all of the code involved so they can publish it under whatever license they want. To the extent their system contains GPL/AGPL code copyrighted by others (and I expect it does), distributing it under an incompatible license like this would be a copyright violation by them against the owners of that code. (This is in section 10, "Automatic Licensing of Downstream Recipients", where it says "You may not impose any further restrictions on the exercise of the rights granted or affirmed under this License.")
B) There is no indication they are attempting to do this, other than that one mention on pricing page, which I suspect is a mistake. The repos simply contain the AGPL license.
Sorry, I still don’t see why having user count limitations would be a violation. The way I read it, they are compliant with Section 13. They are providing access to source code, as required.
Section 10 just says that they can’t litigate if I use/modify their freely available source code how I please.
Let’s say somewhere in their code there is a check for “user_count <= 5”. This isn’t a downstream restriction of GPL rights, it’s just a part of the code as they wrote it and I’m free to change it, as long as I make my changes to the code accessible.
I don’t see why this technical limitation would infringe any upstream GPL rights either.
Are you claiming there is such code? It would be a bizarre and pointless thing to add.
Edit: To be clear, we are talking about different things. I assumed you meant placing a licensing requirement of only 5 users, which would not be possible for the reasons I explained. You appear to be talking about putting a restriction into the code, which as you say would not be prohibited by the GPL, but which would be entirely pointless for obvious reasons. It's an interpretation of their pricing plan that I hadn't considered, though, and I'm curious if that's what they're doing.
I think you're misunderstanding the GPL. From the top of the Preamble section:
> When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for them if you wish)
You are free to modify Grommunio's freely available source code and remove any user cap limits, as long as you make your source code changes available.
In fact I'm fairly certain that Section 10. "Automatic Licensing of Downstream Recipients" protects your right to make this modification:
> You may not impose any further restrictions on the exercise of the rights granted or affirmed under this License. For example, you may not impose a license fee, royalty, or other charge for exercise of rights granted under this License, and you may not initiate litigation (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit) alleging that any patent claim is infringed by making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the Program or any portion of it.
I’m curious where you think this price model isn’t allowed under the GPL.
Since it's opensource you can change the code (remove the restriction, and release a 1to1 fork/patch without restriction), and this is why it make no sense to implement such a restriction in the first place.
And this is why NO OTHER A/GPL project does that, understood?
The reason could be as simple as to add just enough friction to nudge people towards a paid support plan. We agree that it's a silly way to create a value add, and we both agree that it's unenforceable because of the choice to license under (A)GPL.
You're being needlessly hostile and made vague claims about whether or not something like this even allowed under GPL. You haven't demonstrated that this isn't allowed, and that's all I was pointing out. Understood?
It's free for less than 5 users and the "open source" part is open source no matter how many users you're using. Not sure where you get the part that it's not open source once you're above a certain number of users?
Again the price-list is pure stupidity. And limiting the usage of a "Opensource" product is even more stupid.
>It's free for less than 5 users and the "open source"
That's not how Free (yes it's AGPL) and Opensource Software works. In fact i am not even sure if one could do that under the GPL. Give me ONE single other FOSS Project where you have such a restriction (remember it's not a service but software, running on MY instance), restricting the USE and function of the Software on YOUR Computer was probably the first or second point to even invent the GPL.
Could you try to specify why exactly you think so instead of just spewing your opinion without any sort of reasoning?
> And limiting the usage of a "Opensource" product is even more stupid
Again, why? You seem to be confusing the meaning of "free"/"gratis" with "open source". The code is public and released under the "GNU Affero General Public License", making it open source and even copy-left. What more can you ask for (besides "I WANT FREE/GRATIS SOFTWARE" which is what you seem to actually be annoyed about)
Limiting the USE of a opensource product is a stupid thing todo. The great thing about OSS is that your NOT dependent on a Manufacturer, but here you are if you have more than 5 users (that makes it even worse). IF your are truly OSS don't restrict your product on usage, but present a great Support-Team.
This is not better then ANY Microsoft product with it's CAL's, but MS is probably not going bankrupt in the next 5 years, DONT artificially restrict the USE of your Product!
It is a bit weird. AFAICT this isn't a hosted service. It's AGPL code you host yourself, and yet as nix23 says, at https://grommunio.com/product/ there's:
> max. 5 user – free
With no further explanation (the site isn't very clear generally).
IANAL but I don't think you can do that with AGPL. If it's AGPL licensed and you're hosting it yourself you can use it for anything as long as you abide by the terms of the license (including the "Affero" bit).
It would be different if this were (A)GPL code together with a hosted service you can use free with up to 5 users, but I think that's not what this is.
Edit: The thing they're selling appears to be support and limiting free support to 5 users would be fine (and generous!) but they make it clear with Community you don't get any support so I don't see any basis for restricting the number of users.
They don't say anything to that effect, and I think they could only do that if they held the copyright to all the code (which I doubt they do) and released the ISO/VM under a different (non-GPL) license.