Oracle’s recently announced a proposal to move the open source Hudson project to the Eclipse Foundation. Should your company’s stance on Jenkins or Hudson change as a result? Short answer, no. The more interesting question is what this contribution means for the Eclipse Foundation.
Eclipse contribution won’t mend the Hudson & Jenkins split
In explaining Oracle’s proposal, Ted Farrell, Chief Architect and Vice President, Tools and Middleware at Oracle, writes:
…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 2 months while we finalize the submission and get it accepted.
Farrell makes several points that appear counter to the public record.
First, 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 curious.
Second, 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. 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 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 unify 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 OSS projects
Like most, I’m a big fan of the Eclipse Foundation, not simply because Ian and Mike are 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 some 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 VMware.
SpringSource tried to play up the potential for increased community contributions to the Gemini project.
However, VMware/SpringSource killed off their 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 for the Eclipse Foundation.
A year and a half later, while OSGi support is offered by WebSphere, GlassFish and JBoss, and continues to gain developer attention, the Eclipse Gemini project is stuck in neutral.
Does Oracle, or more importantly, 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 that, “if you’re going to kill it, open source it!“, I simply don’t think that the Eclipse Foundation needs to be, or should want to be, the destination of choice for these types of projects.
I hope I’m wrong about the fate of Hudson at the Eclipse Foundation. The Eclipse Foundation is too important to open source projects to become, or even just be viewed as, anything but a leading destination of choice for new and exciting projects.