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Oracle claims trademark on Hudson open source

Fork talk follows big lock out

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Oracle is claiming ownership of yet another open-source project. This time, it's the Hudson project, the popular software build and monitoring service originally developed by Sun Microsystems.

The giant has told users they are welcome to move the service to non-Oracle-owned servers, but if they do so, they can't call it "Hudson" anymore. Users have already moved code to new servers in an effort to deliver improved service.

But Oracle tools and middleware chief architect and senior vice president Ted Farrell has told users that Oracle owns the Hudson trademark thanks to its purchase of Sun earlier this year.

Farrell told a Hudson mailing list: "Because it is open source, we can't stop anybody from forking it [Hudson]. We do however own the trademark to the name, so you cannot use the name outside of the core community. We acquired that as part of Sun."

The Oracle man continued that the company loves Hudson and wants to see the community grow. You've just got to go with the official Oracle-owned name and code base.

Oracle's claim over Hudson mirrors it's earlier claim over the OpenOffice name, as members of that community decided to create new governance around the project.

OpenOfficers have had to pick a new name, LibreOffice, and fork the code as a result.

During that move, Oracle absolved itself of any blame and smothered its refusal to participate in the community-owned project with a statement that spoke of the importance of OpenOffice, Oracle's desire for the project to grow, and how the beauty of open source is that anybody can fork it.

The catalyst for Oracle's latest run-in came after Oracle, without warning late last month, locked users out of Hudson. On the morning of November 22, devs could not access the Source Code Repository to commit code, while the Hudson mailing lists were closed.

The shutdown came because Oracle was moving Hudson's underlying Java.net servers to a new hosting and collaboration platform called Kenai, something it also inherited from Sun.

Among those who found themselves locked out were no less than Hudson's original creator Kohsuke Kawaguchi, a former Sunoracle employee who left recently to work with start-up CloudBees, along with Oracle's own chief Hudson maintainer Winston Prakash.

An email was sent by Oracle to Kawaguchi warning of the change, but this was not received. Hudson was moved to Kenai with Oracle's GlassFish project.

Devs were all set to press the button on the Hudson move on November 30. The community mailing list archive and the live mailing list had been moved to Google Groups and Nabble for improved functionality and search, while the source code had moved to GitHub. The system was apparently up and running before Oracle had reopened Hudson on Java.net.

Farrell dropped his bombshell on November 29. Then, having said that Oracle owns the Hudson name, he said that it's important that Hudson stay with Oracle: "Stay connected with the rest of the java [sic] community, as well as take advantage of some of the cool changes we will have coming to java.net. Moving to GIT can be done while staying on java.net. It is not a requirement to move to github."

He reassured opensourcers that staying on java.net guarantees uptime and reliability from "one of the biggest IT organizations in the world."

You can read the full post here. You can surf the full reaction among developers on Reddit here. Suffice to say, Oracle's reassurances aren't being taken seriously and people are looking forward to a Hudson fork. The complete time line of events is here.

The giant may own the Hudson name thanks to the Sun deal, but the issue is bigger than who owns a name. Name equals recognition. MySQL, OpenOffice, and Hudson are names that stand out in a sea of open source.

But there's another issue here. Letting the code and the coders on Hudson slip away would be a significant loss for Oracle. Hudson is the most widely used integration platforms with more than 25,000 company customers and 290 contributors, according CloudBees, which building a platform-as-a-service for Java apps with Hudson on the backend.

These are customers that Oracles wants. It wants to tie them to its own developer and tools roadmap. It's not clear what plans Oracle has for Hudson, but there's every possibility Oracle would like to have Hudson integrated through Kenai with its own Java IDE and tools JDeveloper.

Elsewhere, Oracle has talked about maintaining MySQL while adding features to the paid versions that integrate the database with Oracle's data and management products. ®

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