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Hudson's future

Andrew Bayer
January 11, 2011

First, my apologies for the lack of updates on the Hudson/Oracle situation for the last few weeks. While talks have been ongoing, the holidays have slowed things down, and we didn’t want to send out information that would later turn out not to be true. We’ve been waiting for the talks to reach a resolution - and I believe they now have.

Since the migration problems, Oracle and representatives from the Hudson community have been involved in talks on the future of the project in a number of areas. The Hudson representatives have been myself, Kohsuke Kawaguchi, and Sacha Labourey (CEO of CloudBees and Kohsuke’s boss), who was brought in to help provide experience with discussions on a corporate/executive level which neither Kohsuke nor I have, with Alan Harder and R. Tyler Croy advising on the side.

These talks have in many ways been fruitful - we came to working agreements with Oracle on the project infrastructure (such as mailing lists and SCM repository location), code review policy for Hudson core, and perhaps most significantly, a governance structure for the project going forward. Some issues are not yet entirely resolved, such as questions on restrictions on third party dependency licenses. But one issue, which we feel is the most significant issue of all, one for which we now believe no resolution is possible: the rights to the name Hudson.

Oracle has told us that they have trademark applications filed in both the EU and US for Hudson, based on Hudson’s creation by Kohsuke while working at Sun. The problem is that this trademark ownership gives Oracle the ability to revoke the Hudson project’s right to call itself Hudson at any time, and while Oracle has made an attempt to offer some guarantees (most notably, that binary releases of Hudson, once they’ve been released with the name Hudson attached, will always retain the right to the name), they are not offering any binding guarantee that the Hudson project will be able to retain its use of the name in perpetuity.

Therefore, to continue using the name Hudson means ceding some of the project’s independence to Oracle - if the project and its governance board opted to go in a direction Oracle disapproved of, Oracle would be able to take away the naming rights. Or, in a less dramatic scenario, Oracle could insist on certain changes to the code, infrastructure decisions, process, etc, regardless of opposition from the Hudson development community, in order to retain the rights to the name.

In short, we’d be living under a sword of Damocles, regardless of the goodwill of the individuals we’ve been negotiating with at Oracle - Hudson as a project would be beholden to Oracle’s whims for its continued use of its own name, and we believe that’s not viable. As I see it, the only viable option facing the project now is to rename it, in order to free it from the burden of Oracle’s ownership of its name. This is not a first choice, not by a long shot, but I don’t see any other choice available to us that would preserve the integrity of the project going forward. Oracle will be presenting their proposal for the project continuing under their umbrella - I encourage you to read it when it becomes available and weigh it accordingly. I’ll just focus on what Kohsuke, other prominent Hudson community members and I have endorsed.

The Proposal

First, we rename the project - the choice for a new name is Jenkins, which we think evokes the same sort of English butler feel as Hudson. We’ve already registered domains, Twitter users, etc for the new name, and have done our best to verify that there are no existing trademarks which would conflict with it. Kohsuke will be registering the trademark for Jenkins in his name, with the intent of transferring ownership of the trademark to the umbrella of the Software Freedom Conservancy once the Jenkins project has been admitted to it (which, I should add, is very much our plan, hopefully in their next round of new projects in a few months - we’ve already had preliminary contacts with SFC). We still invite Oracle to remain involved with the project, on equal terms with all other contributors, and hope they’ll take us up on this invitation.

Second, out of respect for Oracle’s trademark claim on Hudson, we will move our infrastructure off of Oracle-owned and hosted servers, and we will rename existing independent components of the infrastructure to no longer use "Hudson"

  • i.e., mailing lists, Github repos, etc. This would be a gradual process, obviously.

Third, we will put in place an interim governance board for the project, consisting of three members - myself, Kohsuke and, if Oracle elects to remain involved, Winston Prakash, the Oracle engineer working on Hudson. The interim board members will serve for the next 3-6 months, until the governance structure can be nailed down securely enough to hold elections for the board members.

Obviously, such a move could not be undertaken without the agreement and support of the Hudson community. We believe this proposal is the best choice for the project in the situation it’s currently in, but we aren’t closing off discussion, questions, etc, and we encourage your feedback and comments. If there’s anything you need clarified, please ask and we’ll do our best to answer.

Once Oracle’s proposal is available later this week (hopefully Wednesday, possibly Thursday, from what I’ve been told), which I strongly advise you all to read and consider, we’ll be putting up a poll to determine the position of the community. Once that vote is done, assuming the consensus is to rename, we’ll put the mechanisms in motion and switch over as fast we can.

There may be some confusion as to whether we’re proposing to fork Hudson, or rename the existing project. I firmly believe we are proposing the latter - for me, the project’s key component is Kohsuke himself. If the community decides to support renaming the project to Jenkins, and Oracle chooses to continue development themselves under the name Hudson, they are, obviously, entirely welcome to do so. But with Kohsuke working on Jenkins, that’s the true home and the future of the project for me, regardless of the name.

About the author

Andrew Bayer

Andrew was a core committer to Hudson and the author of numerous plugins.