Oracle's Stance on CI Debate

Oracle Speak Out On Hudson/Jenkins

Following Andrew Bayer's proposal that the Hudson project be forked and renamed Jenkins to side-step Oracle's brand ownership, Oracle have posted their own proposal for Hudson.

Oracle name their primary concern for Hudson, as the licenses associated with "some of the core technologies," and a perceived lack of process w.r.t software development, infrastructure decisions and feature information and auditing. They propose to add "some structure and predictability" to the project, with a proposal that primarily targets the core Hudson technologies, but could also potentially apply to the plugins. Oracle outline processes for tracking issues, adding new functionality, code review, committing code, and becoming a Hudson committer, saying "we believe it will add clarity, equality and openness to the community." They also reveal that there was some talk of adding hooks to the Hudson core, which would give users the option of swapping some of the current technology, with different technology options.

But, this debate is squarely focused on the Hudson trademark, and Oracle have their own view on this controversial issue. Oracle state they have not changed anything with Hudson since they acquired Sun, and that the licensing panic in the community can be traced back to a comment made by an Oracle representative, that if anyone forked Hudson they would have to call it something else. "That is no different than any other fork of any other piece of open source software." Furthermore, Oracle stress the difference between naming rights and software: even if Oracle forbid everyone from using the name Hudson, the community would still be free to access and use the Hudson code. "This topic only affects people or companies using the name Hudson in products, marketing material, etc. It does not directly affect the code," Oracle say. They claim trademark ownership allows them to control the quality of Hudson products.

"A plugin writer who writes a plugin can be assured that it runs in all versions of the software calling itself Hudson. And customers who are using a set of plugins with one version of Hudson could decide to move to a different vendor's version of Hudson and know that their plugins will work as they did before," argue Oracle.

Intriguingly, it seems Oracle have yet to show their full hand. The statement briefly refers to a "naming proposal," with a link to be released, pending company approval. At the time of writing, Oracle had revealed that the naming proposal involves taking a copy of the hudson-ci.war file from hudson-ci.org and not modifying it, which gives developers the freedom to add their own extensions and plugins, package it all up and call it "Hudson something(or a variant.)" Likewise, developers who write a plugin that works with the unmodified hudson-ci.war file can publicly call it a Hudson plugin. Anyone wishing to make changes to the Hudson core can request specific trademark licenses, which the company claim is a safety measure to avoid plugin compatibility issues.

Oracle take the stance that the proposed Jenkins project isn't a re-branding, but a fork specifically designed to change who controls Hudson. "That sounds like a contradiction and an unfair deal for Oracle," say the company. Despite the current community uproar that continuing in this manner would be "living under a sword of Damocles," Oracle point out that a fork can occur at any time. If the community becomes dissatisfied with the way Oracle are using the Hudson brand, they can always fork the project. Kohsuke Kawaguchi has posted his thoughts on the proposal, and disagrees with Oracle's assumption that their actions have yet to warrant a fork, as they blocked the community from migrating to GitHub.

"This is precisely why we need to rename now, and not later. If this isn't enough for us to be resolute, then we'll be divided and conquered through a series of highly technical confrontations that cannot rally a larger community, the community gets gradually boiled to death like a frog," Kawaguchi says.

Oracle pledge to "continue to work on, support and improve Hudson for years to come" regardless of the outcome, but Kawaguchi sees the proposal as further evidence that Oracle are planning to drive through changes to Hudson, regardless of how the community feel. Kawaguchi stands by the earlier proposal to rename Hudson to Jenkins.

"Now that we know all the options on the table, I believe Andrew will get a vote going soon. Please help us with your support," he concludes.

Jessica Thornsby

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