Congratulations Apache Chukwa – the 140th Apache TLP!

Last month, the Apache Chukwa podling passed the Incubator’s graduation vote. At the October Apache board meeting, the directors voted unanimously to create the Apache Chukwa top level project, with responsibility for creating an open source data collection system for monitoring large distributed systems.

While this may seem to be yet another project in the fast-growing constellation of Apache Hadoop-related technologies hosted at the ASF, the important milestone is that this is now the 140th active project at Apache! That is, there are currently one hundred and forty independent project communities, all producing software for the public good, all currently hosted at the ASF. That includes everything from the ubiquitous HTTP Server project, through the widely used Lucene search engine, to the aptly named Rave project, and the admittedly niche-functionality MINA project.

Note that this does not count the 36 separate podlings that are currently in the Apache Incubator – each one is an independent community hoping to grow it’s community (and make some software releases) so that they too can graduate to become an official Apache project.

More importantly, this is not the 140th project that’s ever been at Apache. At Apache, we believe in Community over Code; in that having an active and collaborative community is the most important factor in Apache project governance. However we recognize the immense public good that Apache projects do by providing software, especially source code, under our permissive license.

So what to do when we have an older project that may have lost it’s active community? Well, we put it in the Apache Attic, of course! There are currently 14 projects in the Apache Attic, along with a number of subprojects and other bits of software that are still hopefully useful, but that do not currently have an active community at Apache maintaining them. In that way, we provide the code for anyone who needs it, but warn users not to expect the normal support and releases of a full-fledged Apache project.

Putting that all together, we have a full 190 project communities that have chosen the Apache Software Foundation as their home over the past 14 years. A pretty good footprint for an all-volunteer run organization that started with a handful of geeks emailing code patches around to each other!

There are many places to choose to host your project today. Some people prefer other organizations for their project’s hosting – or simply forgo hosting a “project” and merely look for a place to dump their code. That’s fine, and we respect everyone else’s choices. Some people even go so far as to say that Apache doesn’t get it, or isn’t cool, or other uncomplimentary things. That’s fine too: we can agree to disagree.

If you really don’t see the value in being an Apache project – I mean, not just see the value for yourself (which is completely fine, I don’t care); but if you truly can’t see the value that someone might find in wanting to be an Apache project, then… well, sorry, then I can’t help you at all. You can stop reading now.

Even if you don’t see the value for your project right now in coming to the ASF, I hope that you can see the larger values: longevity, brand protection, stability, strong communities, and collaboration amongst many different groups within our communities. While some of these values may not be exciting for the rockstars out there, they certainly are exciting for the millions of software users out there – both small scale and corporate scale users appreciate using software that seems to have a better chance to be around, and be supported for the longer haul.

And even if you don’t see the value here at Apache, that’s OK. We’ve had 190 other communities of people who do see the value over the past 14 years, and our aim is to be here for another 50+ years to come. We’re happy with what we’re doing – and with the immense public good our many, many freely usable software products we’ve provided to the world.

Apache Office, anyone?

I imagine there will be a lot of news – and commentary – and, ahem, heated discussions about today’s submission of the codebase to the Apache Incubator by Oracle. Here are a few handy links and thoughts that may be helpful to ponder:

  • It’s official – here’s Oracle’s announcement on “Statements on Contribution to Apache“.
  • A key thing to read is the official Foundation blog posting on “Incubation at Apache: What’s it all about?
  • Bertrand recently wrote how “Becoming an Apache project is a process, not just a decision“.
  • Key reminder: Incubation is a process, with many checkpoints. Just because something is submitted to the Apache Incubator does not mean that the Incubator PMC will accept it as a podling. And once we do have a podling, the most important work comes, proving that there can be a healthy community around the project – all before it can even be considered to graduate to a Top Level Project at Apache.
  • Newcomers to Apache may want to review the Apache Community Development project – think of it as an outreach group within the ASF, starting work on explaining to newcomers what the Apache Way is about and where to find the right information on technology and community rules at Apache.
  • Reading Planet Apache is a great way to see what many of the committers at the many Apache projects are saying on their personal blogs.
  • I almost forgot! The best way to learn about how Apache works is to read our mailing lists. You can follow along the Apache Incubator’s discussion yourself, right on!

Personally, I think one of the most important differences between a potential “Apache Office” podling and the existing (and amazing) LibreOffice product is the license. Obviously, both codebases are fairly similar, and aim to provide a fully open source office suite. It will be interesting to see, after the first wild set of commentary flies, which project – and which license – that various developers and corporations alike choose to actively support with their contributions. I just hope that this license difference – and the way that the OO.o code came to Apache, which was not something we controlled – doesn’t cause any unnecessary friction between the two communities.

I’m glad that The Document Foundation, home of LibreOffice, has spoken out on this donation as well.

And a great external view of the submission comes from Ed Brill, saying “OpenOffice moving to Apache, good news for the desktop productivity market“, and similarly IBM’s Bob Sutor writes his own “Remarks on OpenOffice going to Apache“.

Ooooh, Rob Weir has an excellent “Invitation to Apache OpenOffice” as well! Great reading in there, especially about some other famous Apache projects.

Apache news roundup: raining cloud projects

It’s been a surprisingly quiet couple of months at Apache; well, at least in terms of new projects graduating from the Incubator.

  • Welcome to the Apache Libcloud project – “a standard Python library that abstracts away differences among multiple cloud provider APIs.”

The Apache Libcloud graduation does bring up an important point about Apache project governance and the Incubation process. Apache is happy to host any community-driven projects that wish to use the Apache license and follow the basic Apache Way. This includes potentially competing technologies. In fact, the Apache Incubator currently has 4 other podlings currently that all deal with cloud API abstractions in one way or another!

  • Apache Deltacloud – a REST-like interface allowing common operations across multiple cloud providers – is the most obvious technical competitor to Apache Libcloud.
  • Apache Nuvem is a podling attempting to put a higher level of data and operation abstraction atop cloud APIs, for a slightly different programming model.
  • Apache Whirr is aiming to provide a level of service abstraction for multiple cloud providers, perhaps allowing your Apache Cassandra, or Apache Hadoop related projects to easily move about the clouds.
  • Apache Tashi goes further along the services model, focusing on providing Apache Hadoop and big data processing services that can be pushed to the clouds.

Sound crazy to have competing technical projects? Not at all, once you realize that Apache is all about the communities behind our projects. As a public charity, Apache’s purpose is to provide software for the public good. The way we have found most effective to do that is to allow any healthy communities to compete and grow independently, within the general Apache way. We’re happy to have multiple communities working on the same kind of technology, and all the better if they can each succeed at finding their niche, both for the software they provide, as well as for the community they can build.

This also points to the special place that the Apache Incubator has at the ASF. Bertrand has an great post discussing some of the whys and hows of the Incubator, and the process that new communities (and their projects!) go through before becoming a top level project at Apache.