Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oracle, Hudson and Jenkins

I've been following the furore about the Hudson open source project with some interest and amusement. Oracle owns the trademark on the name Hudson (because the original developer worked for Sun at the time the project was created) and the community is spooked by the possibility that Oracle will enforce its trademark rights in future.

Trademark rights are indeed a big deal for an open source project, just as they are for a commercial product. An open source project builds its brand by several years of high-quality releases and effective support in its community. Whoever owns the trademark of a project controls that brand.

Here is Oracle's proposal for the future of the project, and the response of one of the project's lead developers.

It's an interesting study in the fragile dynamics of an open source project's community. Oracle clearly don't understand how fragile the power balance is. The community is spooked; not so much by Oracle's ability to enforce its trademark (they claim they would never do that) but by their presumption that they have more of a say in the project than anyone else.

My two cents? Oracle are not evil, but they are being naive and are coming across as complete dicks. If I were a member of the active Hudson community (I'm a happy user of Hudson, since it powers Pentaho's continuous integration site, but I wouldn't say that makes me a community member) I'd certainly give my +1 to fork and change the name of the project to Jenkins. There's little reason not to.


Daniel Lemire said...

I think that this is typical of large organizations. They are good at dealing with masses of consumers or other large organizations. Whenever they have to deal with small companies or communities, they just don't know what to do.

Julian Hyde said...

I agree, Daniel. They're just doing what they do. Brian Profitt writes about Oracle's move to remove JUnit from Netbeans, and this again seems to be because Oracle wants to get "all its legal ducks in a row".

Oracle seems to see the value of open source projects, but it needs to learn from other large organizations that have handled them much better: Redhat, Sun and IBM.

A good start would be to appoint an executive responsible for relations with open source communities, and run decisions past that department just as they run them through legal and PR today. Then we'd start to see more consistency in Oracle's actions, and they'd start to convince us that they really do care.