Oracle Steps on Open-Source Community's Toes

After irking the FOSS community by attempting to muscle control over open-source projects like Java, MySQL, OpenOffice and Solaris, Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) is back again and is eyeing Hudson project, much to the dismay of open-sources.

The open-source Hudson Project provides continuous integration (CI) -- a software engineering practice in which isolated changes are immediately tested and reported on when they are added to a larger code base.

Oracle is claiming ownership of Hudson project, which it states was acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems. The Register reported on Wednesday that Oracle asserted its rights over the trademark Hudson, stating the users can move the code to other non-Oracle servers, but cannot use the name.

However, The Register reported today that a Sun Microsystems employee stated that Sun had decided not to apply for a trademark for the name Hudson, which, if true, would mean Oracle was exerting rights over a non-existent trademark, though it applied for a trademark in European Union on October 29.

The spat between open-sources and Oracle started when Oracle shut down Hudson for its users as it was changing the server, which runs Hudson from underlying Java.net server to an upgraded Java.net infrastructure Kenai. As a result, the users were not able to send code to the source code repository. Oracle sent an email notifying the users about server migration, but the mail did not reach the users, including creator of Hudson Kohsuke Kawaguchi, as the Hudson community group mail had moved to Google Groups.

However, until then, the panic button had been triggered, and Kawaguchi and the community had moved the source code to GitHub. And before Oracle got the server started, Hudson was already running on GitHub.

After this episode, Oracle's senior VP of tools and middleware, Ted Farrell, sent a letter stating "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."

Farrell said: "We really like Hudson. We like it being free. We want the community of contributors to grow to the hundreds. We want the community of users to grow to the tens of thousands. And we would like it to have a license where anyone can use it as they like. This is about trying to create an environment where it can grow as a healthy open source community." But it hasn't synced well with the community as it continues on its path to forking Hudson. As OpenOffice was forked under a new name, LibreOffice, open-source developers seems Hudson is destined to meet the same fate.

Also at the center is Oracle's insistence that moving to Git -- a distributed revision control system that keeps track of software revisions and allows many developers to work on a given project without necessarily being connected to a common network -- can be done on Java.net as well.

The reason to move to GitHub was explained by Hudson project contributor R. Tyler Cory, who stated that, "one of the primary reasons for selecting GitHu instead of one of the many Git hosts such as Gitorious (including Kenai) is the very low barrier to entry for a lot of developers these days." Thus allowing a wider base of contributors to connect with the Hudson project.

According to The Register, Hudson project has more than 25,000 corporate customers, something which Oracle would be eyeing and thus it is attempting to keep it on Java.net server.

Since Oracle took over Sun it has been looking for ways to make it profitable and thus Oracle has focused on garnering revenues from Sun Microsystems Java platform. Also it shut down OpenSolaris, stating that it will be made accessible post-delivery of the commercial Solaris. It also hiked the price of MySQL. All of this reveals Oracle's efforts to harness Sun Microsystems' assets much to the dismay of open-source communities.

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