Oracle's open source missteps continue with Hudson project

Insisting that open source Hudson project not use GitHub, against developer wishes, won't help Oracle's credibility

Oracle hasn't won many friends in open source communities since its acquisition of Sun Microsystems and Sun's array of open source assets, including MySQL, Java, and OpenOffice. Oracle seems bent on continuing this trend with the growing Hudson open source project.

Oracle controls the Hudson project trademark
The Hudson open source project delivers a leading continuous integration server along with more than 300 plug-ins to support the building and testing of a wide variety of software projects.

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Then-Sun employee Kohsuke Kawaguchi and now a key member of CloudBees, which aims to bring Hudson to the cloud, founded the Hudson project. Kawaguchi worked on Hudson as part of his Sun duties. As such, Sun, and now Oracle, retained ownership of the Hudson trademark and intellectual property.

Kawaguchi remains co-owner of the project, along with Winston Prakash, an Oracle engineer assigned to replace Kawaguchi after his departure from Oracle.

The tension between community and company over project decision making
The Hudson project hosted its developer and user mailing lists and source code on Java.net. However, downtime and reliability issues at Java.net encouraged the Hudson developer community to propose moving the mailing lists to Google Groups. In parallel, Oracle, also unhappy with reliability issues with Java.net, decided to upgrade the Java.net infrastructure and migrate the Hudson project to the new Java.net infrastructure.

Unfortunately, an Oracle email notifying Hudson users and developers of this migration was not received as the sender was not subscribed to the mailing lists in question. As a result, Hudson developers have been locked out of the mailing lists and unable to access or update the source code for more than a week.

Frustrated by the inability to access the Hudson source code, Kawaguchi proposed moving the source code to GitHub. Others supported the proposal on the developer mailing list, with no major objections raised for nearly a week. Then, Oracle's senior VP of tools and middleware, Ted Farrell, wrote the Hudson mailing list to express Oracle's concerns:

For now, however, we are going to stay on the Java.net infrastructure. We believe it is important for Hudson to stay connected with the rest of the Java 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. ...

Because it is open source, we can't stop anybody from forking it. 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. We hope that everyone working on Hudson today will do as they claim to want, and work with us to make Hudson stronger.

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