Fork in the road?

Vert.x future uncertain after VMware IP issues

Chris Mayer

Now the creator has left VMware, where does it leave the asynchronous framework likened to node.js

The future of the asynchronous vert.x project appears uncertain after the project’s creator, Tim Fox, alleged that VMware have claimed possession of the vert.x IP.

Writing in the vert.x mailing list, Fox says that lawyers from ex-employers VMware delivered a letter to his home asserting their rights to the rights to the vert.x IP (but not the source code, which is under an Apache 2.0 license). It comes soon after Fox’s move to competitors Red Hat.

The polyglot framework, which aids development of scalable non-blocking applications, is heavily inspired by node.js, and has generated significant community and enterprise interest since its 1.0 release back in May 2012.

Fox says he is left with no alternative but to “immediately give up and transfer to VMware all administrative rights” relating to the vert.x project. This includes the Github project, Google group, domain and dedicated project blog.

Fox wrote: “In the spirit of open source and as a commitment to the Vert.x community I had expected (perhaps naively) that VMware would continue to let me continue to administer the Vert.x project after I had left their employment.”

However, according to Fox, further talks between the two parties have “failed to come to a better solution.” JAXenter approached VMware for a comment on the situation, but had yet to hear back by the time of going to press.

Fox said he was “very concerned about this turn of events” and that he empathised with those in the community for the “uncertainty” it has created.

The announcement spread through Twitter like wildfire, with notable industry heads having their say:

Fox later posted a second message to the mailing list that there were two options available for Vert.x – fork the project under a new name, or find a neutral organisation (ie. not VMware or Red Hat) to host it. He also assured the community that Vert.x is not going to disappear altogether.

The similarities between this situation and that of the Hudson/Jenkins fork cannot be ignored. In 2010, some of the community behind continuous integration server project Hudson were concerned about Oracle’s perceived control of the Hudson trademark, which they acquired in its Sun Microsystems purchase. The community voted in favour of a new name Jenkins, while Oracle said they’d continue with Hudson, creating a fork.

Will we see a similar fork of vert.x in the distant future? It looks likely, with the project continuing to acquire attention for its fresh approach to application development. A fork wouldn’t be too harmful so early in vert.x’s lifespan too.

Hopefully a resolution can be found, and that the community finds a way to continue with vert.x, in whatever guise that may be.

Image courtesy of dvs

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