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What is the Future of Vert.x?

by Alex Blewitt on Jan 11, 2013 |

When Tim Fox, project leader of the open-source Apache Licensed project Vert.x, left VMWare in December he had intended to continue working on the project after joining RedHat at the start of this year. However, on Tuesday it became known that VMWare had instructed lawyers to personally deliver a letter demanding that the project's assets (specifically, the ownership of the GitHub project, the Google Group and the domain name) be transferred to VMWare. Vert.x is a cross-platform, cross-language web server and event bus, with APIs for JavaScript, Python, Ruby and Java.

Although VMWare and RedHat were in discussions to find an amicable solution, such as continued permission to use the Vert.x name or trademark, no such solution has yet been found. Tim posted "An important announcement to the Vert.x community" which generated a lot of interest and put the problem in the public spotlight.

With the future of the project in balance, a secondary discussion has been started – "The future of the Vert.x project". This has focussed on the possible futures of Vert.x with or without VMWare involvement, with options such as:

  • "Netty-style solution". In this solution almost everything continues as-is. The only difference is a CLA is crafted that grants rights of the contributions not to RHT or VMW, but to the "Project". This would require VMWare to grant a perpetual license to the "Project" for use of the name Vert.x.
  • Fork. We wouldn't have permission to use the name 'Vert.x' so we'd have to rename the project. That means removing all references to 'Vert.x' from the code, documentation, and other materials. We'd also lose the current github issues, the wiki, the blog, Google Group and domain. This would not require any permission from VMware.
  • Move project to Apache Software Foundation. This would need approval from ASF and VMware.
  • Move project to the Eclipse Foundation. This would need approval from the Eclipse Foundation and VMware.

Those who are concerned with the 'fork' approach may be reminded of the Hudson/Jenkins, which occurred two years ago. Although in this case, both projects continued on (Hudson 3.0 was released last month) the fragmentation in both the community and the code contributions helped neither project in the end. In fact, the creator of the Hudson/Jenkins project, Kohsuke Kawaguchi suggested they move to the SPI foundation in the debate.

Mark Little has posted that Red Hat are firmly committed to supporting Vert.x at a foundation, offering to support whichever choice is practical, and Pid (from VMWare, and second most prolific Vert.x contributor) offered to help manage the project and processes for moving to a foundation, citing the following advantages:

  • continuation of service
  • implied support from the main companies involved
  • continued use of the name and associated goodwill
  • support from a foundation
  • technical resources
  • more exposure and a chance to grow the community

Ultimately, whichever foundation is chosen it needs support from VMWare to grant a license for use of the name, as otherwise the project may end up being rebranded. Many in the community want to see this end up in a successful resolution, and both Mark Little (Red Hat) and Alexis Richardson (VMware) are both feel that Tim's project lead is essential to the success of the project. Time will tell where the project ends up, but for now it remains under discssion.

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