Eclipse Foundation has much to lose in the Hudson saga

Could Oracle's transfer of Hudson to the Eclipse Foundation leave Eclipse holding the bag on a struggling project?

Oracle recently announced a proposal to move the open source Hudson project to the Eclipse Foundation, and the foundation has accepted pending a 30-day compliance review. Should your stance on Jenkins or Hudson change as a result? The short answer: no. The more interesting question is what this contribution means for the Eclipse Foundation.

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Eclipse contribution won't mend the Hudson and Jenkins split

Ted Farrell, chief architect and vice president of tools and mddleware at Oracle, explains Oracle's proposal:

I can't speak for the Jenkins folks, but one of the good things about Hudson moving to Eclipse is that anyone can participate. When the fork happened, I think it came down to a difference of opinion about how to run an open source project. Oracle and Sonatype wanted more of an enterprise focus, and CloudBees wanted more of a grass-roots environment, which is how Hudson came to be. I think both are valid opinions.

So when we started talking about this move to Eclipse, we initially focused on talking to people whose views were more in line with our enterprise focus. Now that the proposal is public, we welcome anyone to join the conversation over the next two months while we finalize the submission and get it accepted.

Farrell makes a couple points that appear counter to the public record:

  • Unlike Oracle, CloudBees relies on Jenkins to power a commercial product aimed at enterprises. To claim that CloudBees has anything less than an "enterprise focus" is, well, curious.
  • When a community around any open source product up and moves to another location under a different project name, that's not a fork -- that's a rebranding, as Jenkins community member Andrew Bayer told InfoWorld's Paul Krill:

The Jenkins organization on GitHub now has almost 500 repositories, the majority of those plug-ins, and almost 100 public members, while Hudson only has its core repository available and only four public members. Of the 25 most commonly installed plug-ins from before the split, 21 of them have moved primary development to focus on Jenkins, with the remaining four not having any changes during that time. In fact, 40 new plug-ins have been added to Jenkins since the split, while only one has been added to Hudson. The development community has definitely made its choice heard.

The lack of community response on the Hudson proposal's mailing list at Eclipse is not a very good start for the project. Two individuals that have commented suggest they support the proposal if it will bring together the Hudson and Jenkins camps. However, there' no indication of a Hudson and Jenkins unification occurring as a result of the Eclipse contribution proposal.

Eclipse at risk of becoming a graveyard for abandoned open source projects

Like most, I'm a big fan of the Eclipse Foundation -- and not simply because marketing direcor Ian Skerrett and excecutve director Mike Milinkovich are fellow Canadians. However, I fear that Eclipse is at risk of becoming a home for projects whose owners are looking to gracefully reduce their investments while gaining open source kudos along the way.

Rewind to November 2009 when Oracle and SpringSource jointly announced the Gemini project proposal. Gemini was based on SpringSource's DM Server technology. Two short months later SpringSource announced the Virgo project proposal to contribute SpringSource's DM Server to Eclipse. Although SpringSource had been a big proponent of OSGi, OSGi and DM Server became less of a priority for SpringSource after it was acquired by EMC VMware.

SpringSource tried to play up the potential for increased community contributions to the Gemini project. However, VMware/SpringSource killed off its DM Server product as a result of contributing the project to the Eclipse Foundation. The lack of a product and revenue linked to the Eclipse project should have been a warning sign.

In the same vein, OSGi support is offered by WebSphere, GlassFish, and JBoss, and it continues to gain developer attention a year and a half later. At the same time, the Eclipse Gemini project is stuck in neutral.

Does Oracle or -- more important -- the Eclipse Foundation truly expect a better fate for Hudson? Oracle doesn't have a viable business associated with Hudson. This makes any future investment decisions regarding the project at Eclipse tenuous at best. Cue the graceful exit music.

While I agree with the "if you're going to kill it, open-source it" argument, I simply don't think that the Eclipse Foundation needs -- or should want -- to be the destination of choice for these types of kill projects.

I hope I'm wrong about the fate of Hudson at the Eclipse Foundation. The foundation itself is too important to open source projects to become, or even be viewed as, anything but a leading destination for new and exciting projects.

Follow me on Twitter at SavioRodrigues. I should state: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions."

This article, "Eclipse Foundation has much to lose in the Hudson saga," was originally published at Read more of Savio Rodrigues's Open Sources blog and follow the latest developments in open source at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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