Open Sourcing of Obsidian

I so wish I could spend a couple of days fixing the iCloud implementation or implementing Google Drive. The current iPhone sync with iCloud is just terrible… however, I just can’t contribute to this, which would benefit everyone…

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+ 1 for closed source

obsidian is working great for me and i see no reason to “fix” something that isn’t broke.


The plugin API can be used (and has been used) to support third party sync solutions. Go ahead, nobody is stopping you.


I agree with suburbanyute. I am not knowledgeable enough to appreciate the difference, so I’m sure there are aspects of the question I’m failing to appreicate, but I’m squarely in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” camp.


I saw that ericax mentioned two years ago on Hacker News that they would write up some guarantee to commit to open source in case of shutdown of the company (a commitment that would automatically transfer upon acquisition).

Has this happened yet?

See Erica’s reply earlier in the thread:


I saw that, but my question is: after almost 2 years, has such a pledge been published or it’s still just an idea?

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That’s all.

I generally try to stay with open source software but I also think that the code is the property of the creators and they have a right to decide the terms of use. We all knew when we started using that this was NOT open source. The creators allow free use, if you can’t pay. I think $35 for being a user is reasonable and is the cost of 2 movie tickets or a few months of Netflix. This app has more value than that.

The vault/notes are all yours, in markdown and can be used in many other programs. yes, plugins might not be available in other apps and so you’ll lose functionality. But the content is yours. And if you don’t like the terms here, move to Joplin or Qownnotes or another app and write your own plugins to get back equivalent capability.

Suppose you own a house. What would you say if people told you you have to leave the doors open and allow anyone who wants to to come i, do what they want to your house and even live there or move the house somewhere else that they choose.


I came across Obsidian a week back and trust me this brilliant software was love at first sight for me. The developers have created an intelligent and exceptionally polished application. I have nothing but love and admiration for the developers for creating this beauty called “Obsidian”. I have made around 20 interrelated notes for now and made a presentation on a paper using this. I want you to know that I love this software and what follows below is just me putting forward my opinion and is in no way demeaning anyone else’s opinion.

I believe that a project like this can benefit from being open-source(it is already in terms of community plugins), but it should be on the developers and solely on them. We as a user can at most request, but they are not obligated to do that if they do not want to. After having read the whole thread I think some good ways have been proposed as well which can take into consideration the fears of the developers.

Vanilla Obsidian is great but honestly, what makes this software the best out there are the community plugins. They not only enhance the aesthetics but also the productivity and hence I was really disappointed when developers took a stand saying closed-source apps are better than FOSS. Maybe they do and maybe they don’t but when you compare yourself with MS Office and Apple products, remember that they are a billion and trillion-dollar company with huge marketing teams behind them. I came across Obsidian through a youtube video and learned everything from another tutorial series.

You have repeatedly said you are a small team of developers (brilliant ones though) and as your software clearly shows, you are great at what you do. You might gain a lot from open-sourcing (the subscription model is still fine) the product. If you are worried that your code will be stolen or something (even after using the correct license), I would bluntly and respectfully say that while your software is good there are exceptional developers out there who can recreate and even go beyond what you have achieved. Just look at Logseq, it is compatible with the obsidian structure and it is still in the beta phase. It looks exceptionally good and works good and I really hope they achieve their potential. I respect your decision to keep it closed source but you should not think for a moment that people out there are just waiting for your code to be open-source to make their own. That’s not how things work. I respect your opinion but your stand on open-source applications is, to be honest, so disappointing to me as a user.

As for me, I don’t keep my personal notes or journal in Obsidian and I do not plan to. I understand that developers have high ethics and love them for that but it is what it is. I keep my research notes in there but it is really dishearting to me that Obsidian is not the last stop for me(as I thought) as I am rooting for Logseq.

Finally, lots of love and respect to the Obsidian team for all they are doing. This was me being a casual user putting my two cents of opinion on the topic. Keep growing guys. Love and Respect.


I am not a geek to know exactly how to do that, but is that something doable? i mean if someone is spying on your work, then, he wouldn’t do things that intuitive so that you are able to block him from doing so.

Please don’t continue this discussion, don’t bother with those who want this good application to be open source, maybe they want to steal the valuable code of this software.

and for the developer team, I really like the application you developed, and as a result, I really appreciate your team’s choice of software development model, which is closed source. I honestly don’t mind using closed source, even though it scares me a little, but every closed source I use, everything doesn’t look suspicious when I use it. child process created while running it, is there any suspicious connection and data traffic. As a result, I didn’t find anything suspicious in this software or others closed source apps.

out there, there is some unbeatable free closed-source applications that I currently use even though they are closed source like keypirinha, very fast launcher, extensible, lightweight, low memory footprint, and like no bloat when compared to open source electron-based launcher.

Sometimes I think, because closing the source code of the core application, is the best way so that no one steals it and makes a rival as a commercial/paid application.

please close this discussion, and don’t disturb the developer team.


To me, open source rhyme with non-profit.

A lot of nonprofit efforts would actually be better served by for-profit companies because then they wouldn’t have to go begging for grants all the time. They would be financially sustainable.
~ Naval Ravikant

Non-profit is for losers, it does not work. Unless you change human nature, but good luck on that.

No to open source.

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You seems to be very confused about those different words, non-profit means the company doesn’t make profit, it doesn’t mean employee or contractors don’t get paid, it only means the products of all sales once all debt is paid will be re-invested for example… in the product. There are lots of giant non-profit organisations brassing hundreds of millions of dollar out there with some of their top developpers handsomely paid, they can sell the products, they can sell trainings, they can sell everything they want, it’s a business model. Open source on the other end is a licence model that makes some business model incompatible with, but not all, and such an important model that a lot of commercial companies are investing millions into it. It offers transparency toward users, and some guarantees that work can be carried over should the project stop or the company be bought by another company.

A licence can’t be replaced by promise or commitment, no matter how well intended they are. It is true that it makes the code more easy to “steal” and illegally fork, but some critical parts of the code for example the sync/publish plugin should offer that level of transprency, because there are big claims over their security but they can’t be circonstanciated. Plus if it is indeed a plugin they should follow the same plugin rules.

It is ultimately the choice of developpers to choose their licence and pricing model, and the choice of users to stick with it with hundreds of hours worth of content or switch to the competition. I for one appreciate to have local content in a standard format, be it markdown, asciidoc or even a sqllite database, because i’m pretty sure an exporter/importer will always exist to other products, cheap readers can open those files, and some migration code wouldn’t be hard to write. So for me more important than open-source code would be open formats which it is.

I still strongly believe that very sensitive plugin like obsidian-sync, which uploads private (or company data!) to the cloud, promising “end-to-end encryption” should be open sourced and auditable.


I agree with this point. I can understand that the owners of Obsidian don’t want to open-source the whole application, that’s fully within their right and we as users can either accept that or use a different application. But when you’re talking about “end-to-end, zero-knowledge encryption”, those words can only really have any meaning when the code behind it is open-sourced and auditable. Otherwise, who’s to say they don’t store the key?


@DeNotulist That is interesting. And, if I were storing highly sensitive information, I would definitely want to keep that in mind. This is beyond my expertise, and I may be wrong, but like @DeNotulist mentioned, the open sourcing of the part of Obsidian Sync that establishes the vault password could possibly be a very reasonable feature request to create.

I already use Sync for some things. To me, if something like this were implemented, it would be an unnecessary yet still appreciated gesture from the developers. Again, I don’t understand this enough to assess whether this piecemeal strategy would even be feasible to create or effective in the end to quell this type of concern. For all I know, adding something like this very well might open the door for additional risk. Why not create a request? And, if it made sense to the developers and enough potential Sync users, it may be a net benefit for all.


Storing highly sensitive information will always be a risk as long as it is not open source. It does not matter if the files are stored locally as long as you cannot verify the code behind.
One thing you could do to ensure that nothing leaves your local computer is to run obsidian in a vm without any connections to the outside world. However this is an unnecessary workaround.

I myself use the paid version of loqseq only because it is open source. I would love to use Obsidian but it just does not reach my security standards as long as the whole code is not open source and I know a lot of folks who think the same.

Seriously, I wonder why Obsidian is not open source yet. I believe they would massively profit from completely open sourcing. More people will get convinced that the code is legit and therefore will start using it and more talented devs will start to contribute over the long term, which will ensure that obsidian can compete against projects like logseq.

Note taking is infrastructure and infrastructure should be open sourced and e2ee.

This thread is too long; every conceivable facet of this topic has already been discussed, and the majority of the arguments have been addressed by the maintainers.

In particular, Silver addressed basically all of your points two years ago.







I would add in no particular order:

  • Banks are infrastructure too, right? What’s the difference?
  • There are many different types of people using Obsidian besides you and the “lot of folks” you know who want it to be open source. Not all Obsidian users are technically-minded; they are fine with trusting a business who profits from being trustworthy. I am technically-minded, and I’m fine with trusting the Obsidian devs.

If keeping it closed-source incentivizes the development team to keep going, as they seem to be saying, then by all means let’s keep it closed source. We should definitely prioritize their motivation!


One more vote here for open sourcing Obsidian. The arguments for OSS have been well presented already so I am not going to repeat them here. I have contributed 50 USD to Obsidian because it is an excellent program, while hoping the developers will eventually open source it. I will happily continue to pay if they do. If not, I will eventually switch to one of the OSS alternatives. I think the long-term interests of both the developers and users are best served by moving to an OSS model.