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Oracle U-turns on Hudson open source control

Hudson can't have Hudson. But Eclipse can

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Oracle is relinquishing control of the Hudson project after a heavy-handed attempt to stay in charge prompted most community members to fork themselves and undermine the project's viability.

The database giant said on Tuesday that it had submitted a proposal to the Eclipse Foundation to create a Hudson project and that it would contribute the existing Hudson core code to the project.

Oracle will transfer the Hudson trademark and Hudson-ci.org domain name to Eclipse and solicit feedback from the Hudson community to "make sure its opinions are heard before any proposal is finalized".

Initial project leads for the Eclipse project are Oracle, Sonatype, Tasktop, and VMware.

Ted Farrell, chief architect and senior vice president for tools and middleware, said in a statement: "We believe that contributing Hudson to the Eclipse Foundation is the best way to ensure its growth and continued success."

The change has caught out those leading Jenkins, the Hudson fork created by community members after Oracle told them they could not run Hudson on non-Oracle servers.

The fact that Oracle has not talked to Hudson's creators and contributors about the Eclipse move raises concerns over the company's sincerity in saying it now values the opinions of others on the project.

Among those caught out were Hudson's founder Kohsuke Kawaguchi, here. "It also disppoints [sic] me that they decided not to reach out to the Jenkins community about this move, when we've been conducting our governance meeting all open out there for anyone to join. But I guess they are never really interested in working with us," Kawaguchi blogged.

Kawaguchi said he wished Oracle had foreseen what was coming before the split occurred in February. "We were very interested in having the trademark moved under the custody of a neutral 3rd party, but they were very clear that that's not acceptable to them," he wrote.

It's not clear what Hudson at Eclipse means for the future of Jenkins as Kawaguchi did not say whether Jenkins would re-join Hudson.

In fact, it seems Oracle could have turned the power of community against Jenkins by going to the Foundation. Eclipse is a popular destination for open source tools projects and enjoys broad support. There's a very good chance Hudson at Eclipse will retain the momentum it lost through the fork, ensuring its continued growth.

Oracle had been left stranded by the split, with 214 members voting to fork and just 14 saying "no". Jenkins took the project's mailing lists and code contribs leaving Oracle with just the project name and archives. Oracle promised valiantly it would continue to build and grow the project and community with partners and "current Hudson community members."

Sonatype was one of the few to remain on board Hudson under Oracle – albeit a Hudson that has moved to GitHub in the wake of the great Jenkins abandonment.

Eclipse executive director Mike Milinkovich responded to Kawaguchi, saying Eclipse wants to reach out to everyone and anyone that might be interested in participating. "If you or anyone is interested in working at Eclipse please feel welcome," he wrote here. "I realize you and others have done a great job getting the Jenkins community going so I don't expect you to abandon the work you have done but please don't feel you are not welcome," Milinkovich said.

Finally, Kawaguchi has raised questions over Oracle's ability to donate Hudson to Eclipse. He started work on Hudson as a Sun employee during his own time. Milinkovich told Kawaguchi Eclipse has "a very well defined process that I am sure will address any issues that might arise."

The move to Eclipse follows after a brief, and rather pointless, fight with Hudson's founders and community members for control of the popular continuous integration server.

Hudson contributors in February decided to fork the server and implement it under a completely new name, Jenkins, on GitHub, and to create an independent governance board to run the project. That vote came after Oracle last year told them they couldn't move to GitHub and still call the project Hudson because Oracle owned the trademark.

Hudson had sat on Sun servers operated by Oracle, but the migration was planned after users were unexpectedly shut out of the service while Oracle upgraded the servers.

"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," Farrell had told Hudson users at the time. Oracle acquired Hudson along with OpenSolaris, OpenOffice and GlassFish from Sun.

But Oracle didn't own the trademark. It had only applied for the trademark. The attempt to keep control of Hudson fit into an unfolding strategy of Oracle holding complete control over the open source projects it bought from Sun even though it had little idea how to run them or what to do with them.

When Farrell told Hudson users that if they forked they couldn't use the Hudson name, the community voted unanimously to fork. put the code on GitHub anyway, set up an interim governance board, and re-named the effort Jenkins with its own URL. ®

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