Oracle proposes giving Hudson to Eclipse Foundation

In surprise move, Oracle asks Hudson community to consider Eclipse Foundation governance

Just over 100 days ago, some members of the Hudson community voted to change the project name and reassert community governance over their version of continuous integration server for Java development as the Jenkins project. Oracle, still the commercial sponsor of Hudson after acquiring it in the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, today announced a proposal to fully donate the entire Hudson project to the Eclipse Foundation.

The proposal, which essentially sets forth the donation of all governance of Hudson to the Eclipse Foundation, was set to be announced to the Hudson developer's mailing list at 8 a.m. PDT this morning, accompanied by a press announcement.

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Under the terms of the proposal, all aspects of Hudson, including source code, domain name, and copyright, would fall under the auspices of the Eclipse Foundation (EF), should the proposal be approved by the Hudson community. This would be a very significant step for Hudson, since the EF is rather highly regarded as a neutral member of the open source community and Eclipse governance should go a long way towards easing any misgivings anyone might have about Oracle maintaining control over Hudson.

These were misgivings that Oracle's own Ted Farrell acknowledged in a discussion we had earlier this week to discuss the then-impending announcement.

Farrell, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect at Oracle, said that one of the reasons Oracle is making this proposal to move Hudson to Eclipse was that Oracle recognized that "some people in the community would worry [Hudson] was an Oracle-only project." Specifically, I had asked Farrell why move Hudson to the EF, and not set up some sort of community governance on their own?

Farrell also indicated that there was a strong sense of not wanting to reinvent the wheel when considering how to set up community governance for Hudson. The EF, Farrell explained, had a lot of the capabilities Oracle was looking for in their governance, so it made sense to try to roll the project over to the EF.

Governance of Hudson, should the proposal be approved, will be managed by the EF, with Oracle still maintaining their status as the project lead, with companies like TaskTop, VMware, Sonatype, and Intuit all having representatives as initial contributors.

Another interesting aspect of the proposal was that this was not the first time Hudson governance by the EF has been proposed. EF governance was mentioned as a potential solution to healing the rift that would eventually create the Jenkins fork. The proposal to the Jenkins team, according to Farrell, was sent back to the Hudson community with a negative reply, with the reasoning that the EF's governance would be "too heavyweight" for a project like Hudson.

The Jenkins fork from Hudson, a continuous integration server for Java development, started in the Fall of 2010 when Hudson developers, frustrated with the performance of hosting their project on the Java.net infrastructure, decided to migrate the project to GitHub. The move came after a miscommunication about a planned internal migration from older Java.net resources to Java.net's Kenai system left Hudson developers unexpectedly locked out of Java.net and their code.

When they discovered that their access to the Hudson source code was suddenly blocked for no apparent reason, the Hudson development team was upset. Eventually, the miscommunication was discovered, but not before Hudson founder Kohsuke Kawaguchi put forth the proposal that since the mailing lists were already being migrated, and with yet another problem with Java.net, why not just finish the move and get the source code off Java.net and onto GitHub?

Hearing no major objections from the rest of the Hudson community to Kawaguchi's proposal, the Hudson team made plans to switch their code repositories over to GitHub on November 30.

But the Hudson code initially remained on the Java.net servers, because Farrell requested that Hudson needed to stay on Java.net for the sake of the larger Hudson user community, which hadn't been heard from yet about a move to GitHub. Farrell also stated that Hudson should stay on Java.net, and made statements that at the time were interpreted as any such move would represent a fork from the Hudson project.

"That was a misrepresentation of statements I made which caused a lot of confusion," Farrell clarified in a February message on the [Hudson-dev] mailing list, "I had asked to hold off on the github move until we could coordinate with more of the community. I clarified multiple times in later posts that Oracle was 'in favor of moving to a git-based repository, including possibly github, and we just wanted some time to evaluate what that means and the best way to achieve it.'"

Regardless of Farrell's intentions, the incident seemed to become the catalyst for precipitating the Jenkins fork, with both sides rather suspicious that the other side had unseen motives.

With this new proposal, Oracle seems to be honestly assessing how it wants Hudson to be governed, but in the broader context of Oracle's recent move to drop commercial development of OpenOffice.org, it also seems to give the appearance that Oracle is walking away from yet-another open source project it inherited from Sun.

When I put the question to Farrell, he said that he understood how someone could come to that conclusion--it was one of the potential negative aspects that came up when Oracle was working through the pros and cons of making this Hudson proposal. But, he added, the proposal to shift Hudson to the EF is not representative of some larger scheme inside Oracle to ditch open source projects.

"Each [Oracle business] team has their own goals as far as open source is managed," Farrell said. The OpenOffice.org team had their own reasons for not wishing to continue commercial development that made business sense for that team. But that does not reflect some larger plan, as Oracle remains solidly behind Hudson.

With the EF proposal, "we're just formalizing what we've been doing all along," Farrell stated. "We're still very committed to Hudson, and are still offering commercial support."

Having Hudson under the umbrella of the EF certainly seems to be a win for Oracle and any community members who are gun-shy about Oracle completely running Hudson. Now let's see what the community at large thinks.

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