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Checking in on OpenMage and Magento in 2020

astorm

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After years of a sliding deadline, Adobe finally followed through on putting Magento 1 through their “end of life” process. My understanding of this is Adobe’s no longer hosting Magento 1 extensions and themes via Magento Connect, no longer publicly hosting the source code for the open source Community Edition (CE) or Enterprise Edition (EE) versions of Magento 1, and no longer publicly investing in security patches for Magento 1.

Open source never really dies though. With Adobe mostly out of the Magento 1 picture I figured it was time to take a quick look at the options for folks sticking with Magento 1.

OpenMage

Most interesting to me, as a software developer, is the OpenMage project. This project is trying to keep Magento 1 alive as a living open source project.

OpenMage isn’t a new project. Based on git commits it’s a project that, as far back as 2009, was mirroring the Magento 1 source in GitHub. This at a time when the only official way to get Magento was via an archive download from magentocommerce.com.

At some point (maybe around 2015?) the project began accepting PRs to fix things in the Magento source that Magento Inc. and eBay weren’t on top of or bugs they had deliberately chosen to leave in place.

It would appear that, post end-of-life, the folks behind OpenMage are going to the give the whole “we’ll be your source for Magento 1 updates now” thing a go.

Who those folks is a little unclear — but that’s not unusual with open source projects. According to the (recently design refreshed) OpenMage website, the project has three maintainers —

Looking at the OpenMage GitHub organization page, there’s a fourth human mentioned

The GitHub contributions page also reports around one hundred and twenty five people have made contributions to the project over its lifetime. Looking at pull requests, the team is actively merging PRs.

There’s also an OpenMage partner’s page with a number of organizations listed — although it’s unclear if being a partner means providing material support or just saying “I like what you’re doing here OpenMage, keep it up”.

In addition to this fork of Magento, OpenMage also hosts a historic mirror of the original Magento source code and appears to be behind this historic archive of over 2800 Open Source Magento Connect extensions and themes. My memory is that, at its height, Magento Connect had around 6,000 extensions. There were various “we’re cleaning things up” purges over the years bringing that back down to around 3,000 — so this list seems to be from a relatively recent point in time.

Hosting and Safe Harbor

When it comes to hosting, Magento 1 is just a plain old vanilla PHP and MySQL application. It’s technology you can host on any generic linux server. That said, Magento 1 was a popular enough platform that it spawned a number of specialized linux hosts. The two most familiar to me — MageMojo and Nexcess — have both committed to keeping their Magento 1 hosting services around.

Nexcess is going a step further with a program they’re calling Safe Harbor. Nexcess has stated they’ll be keeping the Magento 1 source code secure by providing security patches. Having a trusted vendor provide these sorts of patches is important in the foggy world of PCI compliance.

While these Safe Harbor patches aren’t directly related to the OpenMage project, given that Nexcess name checks OpenMage in support docs and at least one Nexcess Product Manager has given the project high praise, it wouldn’t surprise me if there was some quiet collaboration happening.

Adobe

The 500 lb. electric cat in the room w/r/t Magento 1 post-2020 is Adobe. It’s true that the Community Edition (CE) of Magento 1 uses an open source license (duel license under ASL and OSL, actually), which means that anyone is free to take and make use of it.

However, there was also an Enterprise Edition of Magento 1. Over the years this version of the product used the CE core (sometimes slightly forked, sometimes not), and an additional set of commercially licensed extensions.

Based on this vague shade from the Mage One FAQ (a company offering Commercial Magento 1 support post end of life)

Do you support Enterprise Edition?

We tried — really hard! But Adobe‘s license does not allow you to let us work for you as an Enterprise Edition customer.

it sounds like Adobe hasn’t been shy about asserting (perhaps over asserting) its rights here.

Beyond Enterprise Edition there are non-source code license things Adobe could do to harass these projects and individuals into ending their support for Magento 1 — but that doesn’t seem likely. I am not your lawyer or business advisor, but having a soft landing for Magento 1 users is a better story than Adobe bullying small businesses into giving up their open source systems.

Adobe is a giant factory for making money from subscription software, and most of these companies would never pass pre-lead qualification for a Magento 2 system. Even if some are on the bubble, aggressively taking their Magento 1 systems away would probably push folks towards a non-Magento based solution in the future. Nobody wins there.

The Future is Boring

It seems like there’s enough here to keep Magento 1 chugging along for a number of years into the future. While it’s not the most exciting thing in the world, it’s encouraging to see open source living up to some of its promise. If Magento 1 had been a SaaS type system (RIP Magento Go), an end-of-life would have forced folks into hard choices before they were ready. With open source software and a little technical elbow grease, these systems will stay running as long as their owners want them to.

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Copyright © Alan Storm 1975 – 2020 All Rights Reserved

Originally Posted: 14th September 2020