Technical update: keep the ball rolling

As you may have noticed in our previous blog post, we did not cover every technical detail of what is going on around RethinkDB. Also mentioned earlier in a GitHub issue, communication was not our strength with regard to the future of the project, and we promised this would change. In keeping our word, here is a summary of what’s been going on the last few months and what’s in store.

Before we discuss the changes we made and what’s next, we need to clarify what our goals are and the current difficulties we face.

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RethinkDB community update: Stayin' alive!

We have some exciting news for you today, but let me begin by expressing our appreciation for you, the RethinkDB community! Your continued support over the past couple of years as we’ve gotten back on track means so much. We would never have gotten this far without continued engagement from the community. With that in mind, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve completed all the necessary tasks for continued development under the Linux Foundation and fundraising via CommunityBridge.

Technical updates

Since RethinkDB merged back from the fork, we’ve put a lot of effort into cleaning up and reorganizing the project. We have access to PyPi, to the infrastructure, and most of the official RethinkDB accounts.

We set up static code analysis for some of the repositories (this will be continued), released new client versions, fixed the enormous amount of bugs and released a 2.4.0-beta for DigitalOcean Marketplace, redeployed and moved the website and documentation site to Netlify, set up a new download server on DigitalOcean and our next step will be to create the CI/CD infrastructure.

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Announcing RethinkDB 2.3.6: the first release under community governance

We’re pleased to announce the availability of RethinkDB 2.3.6, the first release since RethinkDB transitioned to community governance. This update includes a range of bugfixes and stability improvements. For a complete list of changes in this update, you can refer to the release notes.

After the company behind RethinkDB shut down last year, a group of community members and former employees devised a transition plan to ensure that the database would live on as an open source software project. That effort culminated earlier this year when we officially joined the Linux Foundation and relicensed RethinkDB under the permissive ASLv2.

Today’s update is an important milestone, as it is the first fully community-driven RethinkDB release. Version 2.3.6 is also the first release that we’ve issued under our new license. Although development on RethinkDB never really halted, it took some time to spin up the infrastructure and processes that we needed to facilitate new releases. Now that we’re back in action, we’re looking forward to rolling out more regular updates.

We are already working towards the release of RethinkDB 2.4, our next major version. We have several new features already implemented for version 2.4, including support for table modifier functions. A modifier function lets you provide an arbitrary ReQL expression for the database to execute on every write operation that affects a table’s contents. You can use modifier functions for performing validation or automatically adding fields to new documents.

Please note that we’re using a new signing key for the packages in our APT repository. Before you upgrade to the latest packages on Debian or Ubuntu, you will need to fetch the new public key (0742918E5C8DA04A):

$ wget -qO- | sudo apt-key add -v -"

Get involved

As an open source project that is developed and financially supported by its users, RethinkDB welcomes your participation. If there’s a feature or improvement that you would like to see, you can help us make it a reality. If you’d like to join us, there are many ways that you can get involved:

For more details about the project’s status and roadmap, you can watch the recordings of our latest community meetings on the RethinkDB YouTube channel. You can also keep an eye out for our upcoming appearance on the The Changelog podcast.

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RethinkDB joins The Linux Foundation

When the company behind RethinkDB shut down last year, a group of former employees and members of the community formed an interim leadership team and began devising a plan to perpetuate the RethinkDB open-source software project by transitioning it to a community-driven endeavor. Today’s announcement by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) marks the culmination of that effort. The CNCF purchased the rights to the RethinkDB source code and contributed it to The Linux Foundation under the permissive ASLv2 license.

RethinkDB is alive and well: active development can continue without disruption. Users can continue to run RethinkDB in production with the expectation that it will receive updates. The website, GitHub organization, and social media accounts will also continue operating. The interim leadership team will work with the community to establish formal governance for the project. Under the aegis of The Linux Foundation, the project has strong institutional support and the capacity to accept donations.

Over the past several months, members of the community have expressed interest in making donations to fund ongoing RethinkDB development. We’re now equipped to accept those donations and put the money we raise to good use. Stripe has generously agreed to match up to $25,000 in donations. You can donate here to support RethinkDB’s future as an open-source project.

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RethinkDB is shutting down

Today I have sad news to share. After more than seven years of development, the company behind RethinkDB is shutting down. We worked very hard to make RethinkDB successful, but in spite of all our efforts we were ultimately unable to build a sustainable business. There is a lot of information to unpack – over the next few months, I’ll write about lessons learned so the startup community can benefit from our mistakes.

I just installed RethinkDB 2.3.5 on a new laptop and took a few minutes to slow down and play with the product. I’m very proud of what we built alongside our community – RethinkDB’s technology more often feels like magic, and I hope it will continue to play an important role in advancing the state-of-the-art in database technology.

We’re working with members of our community to develop a continuity plan for RethinkDB and Horizon. Both projects will continue to be available, distributed under open source licenses. We hope to continue our open development process with a larger community of contributors.

We’d like your help to ensure RethinkDB’s future as an open-source project! We don’t have all of the details figured out, but we wanted to be as open as possible during this process. If you’re interested in contributing, please join us in the #open-rethinkdb channel of our public Slack group. You can expect to see development slow down in the meantime, but everything will continue to be available on and We will post updates on our blog and Twitter as we continue working things out.

With the company shutting down, we also wanted to find a new home for our team. We looked at a number of options, and were deeply impressed by Stripe – in particular, their commitment to building better developer tools, contributing to the open source community, and helping technology companies to scale faster and more effectively. We’re excited that the members of our engineering team will be joining Stripe, where we can put our expertise to work solving new problems and building infrastructure for developers around the world. Between now and when the team joins Stripe, they will help us with with our efforts to establish a sustainable future for RethinkDB as an independent open-source project.

Thank you for standing with us over the years.

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