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What if you just dont buy the licenses

asked 2014-05-03 11:25:53 -0600

john doe gravatar image

updated 2014-05-03 12:48:33 -0600

I'm new to puppet and I just don't get the licensing model. Your own site says Puppet doesn't stop working just because you run out of licenses. What stops one from just downloading puppet enterprise and running hundreds of nodes (think a web host) and just not paying for it? I'm sure a lot of people would just ignore the nastygram on the web interface. Does Puppet phone-home to puppet labs and you eventually cut it off or sue the entity? I just don't understand how hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of software works on the honor system.

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answered 2014-05-03 23:50:57 -0600

spuder gravatar image

updated 2014-05-06 00:27:03 -0600

The biggest differences between enterprise and the free version are:

  • Support
  • Easy install
  • The PE Web portal

Puppet does not call home or tattle tell on the system. The folks at puppet labs are too busy selling software and innovating to take the time and try and punish people who might be misusing it.

In all practicality, you can run the open source edition of puppet with the free puppet web portal with no problems. Many companies I've worked with do just that.

To address your question of how puppet can afford to give away part of their product for free; consider that there is value in people having a community. Puppet's entire product and market share become more valuable with the more people that they have using the software. Two big examples are

  1. having people write modules. Every new module makes the puppet eco system more valuable.
  2. momentum: If people at small companies use puppet, they likely will continue to use puppet when they move to new bigger companies.

There is an interesting book that goes further into how this is a viable business model called "Free the future of a radical price"


As a general rule, enterprise software companies only want to deal with the big fish. If your company is doing millions of dollars in business, you can't afford not to pay for enterprise level support.

If your company is small enough that it is worth saving the few thousands of dollars that you would normally spend on puppet support, then you aren't really a customer that puppet would make a lot of money on anyway. Really, puppet labs looses nothing by letting small companies use their software for free.

As for setting up the free web portal, it is encouraged. I know several companies with hundreds of servers who are able to get buy on the free version with the free web portal.

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But couldn't someone get the "easy install" and "PE Web Portal" for free by just downloading the enterprise version and ignoring the nastygram? A lot of enterprise\free apps at least lock down their platform requiring a phone home. It's nice that puppet does not do this but I think abuse is clear.

john doe gravatar imagejohn doe ( 2014-05-05 18:51:02 -0600 )edit

@john doe see update

spuder gravatar imagespuder ( 2014-05-06 00:27:27 -0600 )edit

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Asked: 2014-05-03 11:25:53 -0600

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Last updated: May 06 '14