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Open-source forkers declare Oracle independence

It's Hudson versus Jenkins

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Opensourcers running a popular code management project have declared independence from Oracle by voting to fork rather than leave the giant in charge.

Community members of Hudson have voted by 214 to 14 to keep the Hudson mailing list and archive on Google Groups and source code on GitHub servers. An interim governance board has also been named to run the project.

Hudson has more 290 contributors and 25,000 company customers, according to platform-as-a-service Hudson start-up Cloudbees.

The fork will be now called "Jenkins" with servers parked under the new domain name Jenkins-ci.org.

The fork leaves Oracle holding on to the original "Hudson" project name, which it fought so hard to retain, but little else as it's losing both the mailing lists and archive and the code repository. Oracle gets to keep Hudson's core project code structure.

Lacking the mailing lists, the Oracle-owned Hudson will revert to the lists parked on its Java.net servers. Having lost the code contribs repository to Github, Oracle will rely on a mirror of the Hudson github repository on its hudson.java.net servers.

Oracle also appears to have re-branded Hudson. The site now lives under a new, strikingly similar URL to Jenkins - hudson-ci.org - and features a polished new look. You can still see the old site here.

It was the Java.net servers that were the origins of the fork.

Hudson users had become tired of the unreliability of Oracle's Java.net servers and after being locked out moved the mailing lists and code repositories off to Google and GitHub late last year.

And they'd almost have got away with it, too, had not Oracle stepped in at the very last moment before the switch and told Hudson devs they weren't allowed to change hosts and continue to call the project "Hudson". Oracle claimed it owned the Hudson name.

Only Oracle does not officially own the Hudson name, as it's not registered to Oracle in either the US or Europe. Oracle, meanwhile, tried to placate Hudson dissidents by saying they could customize Hudson with all the add ins they wanted - just that to modify the core code meant they could not use the Hudson name. It was a limited offer that didn't impress Hudson users.

Now, Oracle doesn't own either the name that it clung to, or the assets that made Hudson so valuable - the latest code people had checked in, or their communications.

This is the second time Oracle has clung to a name at the expense of the code or the people assets that gave the actual project itself value. Open sourcers participating in OpenOffice last year went UDI, creating The Document Foundation after Oracle refused to agree to a new governance structure that would have greatly reduced its control.

Oracle is unlikely to lose out in the long term on Hudson. It sells so much Java middleware and apps that Oracle can re-populate code and contributions it's just lost from devs working its software or the existing customer base. And, while the Jenkins crew might have the assets they don't have that brand familiarity. There could also be some confusion as servers and code are renamed.

The deciding factors will be where the weight of developers and code contributions settles in the long run, whether Hudson and Jenkins attract enough participants so that both projects continue in parallel, or whether Oracle - lacking community buy in - can keep Hudson going on its own.

Oracle chief Hudson maintainer Winston Prakash promised here that Oracle and "some of our partners and current Hudson community members... will continue to build and grow the Hudson project and community."

For Oracle, it needs to decide when, and if, Jenkins is supported in its JDeveloper IDE.

The giant is currently busy putting its own spin on how the fork went down. It personalized the dispute by singling out Hudson core contributor Andrew Bayer and Cloudbees, home to Hudson founder Kohsuke Kawaguchi, for the fork. Oracle also assumed a slightly hurt tone. Prakash said the Hudson mailing lists and the github project were "being taken away" as a result of the fork.®

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