Docker recently introduced the Moby project, which Docker is now based on, and which is free software (Apache 2.0). But the instructions to install Docker CE don't mention Moby at all, and they don't mention free or open source software. The terms and conditions linked to from that page look proprietary, and only make generic references to open source software.

So, if I followed the instructions to install Docker CE, would I be installing fully free software?

  • is there anything in the package downloads that would be 1. a license (e.g. Apache) and 2. a link to get the corresponding source code? Commented May 4, 2017 at 12:39
  • Good question but note you have to agree to the terms and conditions in order to download. Looking at Moby it is obvious that you can't build Docker CE from it as even the Docker CLI is being removed.
    – zedman9991
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 21:14
  • Just to be clear @zedman9991, the Docker CLI isn't part of Moby, but isn't being "removed". It's part of Docker and will remain part of Docker. This is an architecture shift. The new architecture will resemble how VS Code is proprietary, but built on top of a Microsoft Open Source project. networkworld.com/article/3193904/open-source-tools/…
    – RubberDuck
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 0:01
  • @RubberDuck to get there they literally remove as in github.com/moby/moby/pull/32694
    – zedman9991
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 20:48
  • They're not being removed. They're being moved. That's a huge difference.
    – RubberDuck
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 20:52

2 Answers 2


Docker Community Editions are products from Docker built on- and assembled from open source components. Some Docker Community Editions are based solely on open source projects (like Docker for Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and other open Linux distributions). Some Docker Community Editions incorporate components that are not open source.

We try to let the openness of the underlying infrastructure guide the openness of the corresponding Docker Edition. Docker Editions for open, community-oriented Linux distros are also fully open, while Docker for Mac and Windows (for example) may incorporate some non open source components.

The Moby-related changes are still in progress, so stay tuned for more.

  • 10
    Great answer! However, it would be nice to know which Community Editions are based solely on open source projects, and how to check this. For example, the Debian docker package does not contain a copyright file - it does contain the moby README.md which mentions MIT license, but it's not exactly clear that covers the whole package. Also it would be nice to somehow explicitly see that the package is not tied to the EULA.
    – Nakedible
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 8:04
  • 1
    So, in effect, the answer is: no, Docker is not open-source.
    – iono
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 10:34

Docker is built with Moby, but you don't need Moby to install the built version. It is still open source, and still free. In the terms and conditions you linked to, definitions 1.5 and 1.6:

1.5 “Licensed Software” means the Docker software identified on an Order Form (other than Open Source Software) and licensed to Customer pursuant to the terms of this Agreement, e.g., the “Docker Hub Enterprise” software or other licensed software from Docker that is identified on the Order Form (excluding any Open Source Software included therein).

They're being careful to exclude the open source version of Docker as "licensed", and

1.6 “Open Source Software” means Docker or third party software identified at https://www.docker.com/components-licenses, that is distributed or otherwise made available as “free software”, “open source software” or under a similar licensing or distribution model..

They're making sure that Docker is acknowledged as open source software.

I think the proprietary look is that they're trying to use one license to cover both the open source and the subscription products. It would be clearer if they split the licenses in two.

  • 3
    That's a good point. But I agree completely that it's confusing, to such an extent that I'm still not convinced that the Docker CE download is free and open source. If it is, they should do away with the special terms and conditions for the Docker CE download.
    – z0r
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 0:36

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