Is Magento Open Source Truly Open Source?

The short answer is yes. Let's dive into why with a bit of Magento history and how it's evolving as an Adobe product now.

Photo by hishahadat on Unsplash


The Magento brand is a trademark owned by the Adobe Corporation. Magento Open Source is licensed under the Open Software Licence 3.0 which is an open source license allowing for modification, sublicense, distribution, and commercial use. Use of the Magento trademark is prohibited unless via separate license from Adobe.

A bit of Magento history:

  • Magento was originally developed by Varien Inc. in 2007, with the support of open source software contributors.
  • The first version generally available to the public was released in 2008.
  • eBay took ownership of it in 2011.
  • In 2015 Magento 2.0 was released.
  • Late 2015 Permira investment group purchased Magento from eBay.
  • 2016 Magento Commerce added to the Magento family as a paid Platform as a service alternative.
  • 2018 Adobe purchased Magento and Magento Commerce from Permira.
  • 2019 the OpenMage fork of Magento 1 was released to support businesses that do not want to upgrade to Magento 2.

Throughout Magento’s life, the driving force behind updates, innovation, bug fixes and security patches has been the Magento community. Today, Magento Open Source remains an open source platform that has its codebase managed by Adobe with ongoing contributions from the community. Much of the same community that built Magento into what it is today remains dedicated to the open source ideas that launched the platform.

While Magento Open Source remained driven by the community, Adobe reprioritized their internal resources to support a new platform as a service (PaaS) based on the Magento codebase and renamed Adobe Commerce. From an outsider’s point of view, Adobe’s motivation for doing this was twofold:

  1. Providing a more integrated cloud offering for their customers, and
  2. Building a new source of recurring revenue not available from Magento Open Source

Coincident with this reprioritization, the speed of reviewing and releasing community code for Magento Open Source has declined. This reprioritization has caused frustration within the Magento Open Source community and brought about a recent fork called Mage-OS. Currently, this fork is a complete mirror of the Magento Open Source codebase. Eventually, if Adobe moves further from the community’s goals and priorities, it could become the defacto open source version of the platform going forward.

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