February 27, 2011

The Butler Dispute

I thought it would be time to resurrect my blog, after not having posted for a couple of months. That was mainly because I have been really busy with some interesting stuff I should post about in the future, like Xtext upgrade...

Oracle vs. the Community

But today, I just bumped the ongoing dispute between Hudson and Jenkins guys. We are using Hudson since around 2008, coming from Cruise Control. We really liked the web interface, being able to setup everything by just using your browser. Of course, the features also have been impressive since then. Setting up a build farm is just fun with Hudson.

You probably know that there has been a fork of Hudson which is named Jenkins (others say Hudson has been renamed to Jenkins and then forked into Hudson). This all started with the Hudson team being unhappy with the infrastructure provided by java.net (which is driven by Oracle since Sun acquisition), due to its poor reliability. The community talked about moving parts of the project to other servers, and first candiate was issue tracking. Suddenly, the project is locked due to the migration of java.net projects to new Kenai infrastructure, which was announced by Oracle but somehow missed by the project owners. Frustrated by the migration, the community decides to move code to GitHub and mailing list to Google Groups. See "Who's driving this thing?" for the facts.

This is the point where Oracle steps in, claiming to have a trademark on the name. If the project decides to move, it must be using another name: "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." (BTW, that might not be true after all). Later he stated that "the final decision of what to do w.r.t. infrastructure belongs to Oracle".

Guess what: this really concerned the community. There have been some talks between key community members and Oracle representives, in an attempt to agree on a "proposal for a stable structure and arrangement" which later would be proposed to the community. But, with no success. That finally led to the decision of the community to move to GitHub and at the same time rename the project to another butler's name: "Jenkins".

Of course, Oracle's view on the subject is a bit different...

Welcome Jenkins!

Well, so now you have the choice: use Hudson, or use Jenkins. You know, competition is usually a good thing, so let the race begin. The majority of the community seems to have made the switch to Jenkins (given the blogs and mailing list traffic). This is because Oracle's behavior is not quite understood and does not cast a positive light on their comprehension of Oracle's role in the Hudson community.

However, Oracle is putting enormous resources (people and hardware) into the Hudson project. And what's even more important, Sonatype is helping to drive Hudson to the next level. Sonatype? Right, that's the company behind Maven and all the great Maven tools like Nexus and m2eclipse.

Maven Support – the Killer Feature?

One of the most important features (for me, but also for possibly the majority of other users) is Maven 3 support. Sure, Hudson/Jenkins already support Maven 3 since version 1.392 (end of 2010, see changelog). But hey, Sonatype entered the scene, and they will surely do better.

Sonatype, too, have put some full-time engineers into the Hudson project, making sure that "Hudson users can look forward to a long, bright future". See this or this post. Sonatype in the end of the day wants to earn money with Hudson (and Maven), so I expect to see outstanding features related to Maven 3 support, Eclipse integration and workflow extensions for Hudson. See here for some of their ideas.

Well, this really makes a thrilling game. I honestly appreciate what Kohsuke Kawaguchi and others have built up with Hudson from the ground up, and would like to see them win on the "evil company that pushed them out of the project". And by the way, Sonatype seems to be in good companion when talking about being evil – they removed the oldest commiter of m2eclipse from the project a year ago.

So, is this again the good vs. evil story? I don't know. In the end, both projects will have their users. And they will learn and benefit from each other. So let's wait and see.... Time will tell. It's going to be an interesting year, though!

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