Live from ApacheCon: Subversion Joins ASF

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 04, 2009

The Apache Software Foundation is celebrating 10 years since its incorporation, and so we're partying like it's 1999 here at ApacheCon. By which I mean ApacheCon has remained true to its roots with a community-driven feel that seemed more common in the Open Source events of 10 years ago.

The big news today is that the Subversion project is joining the Apache Software Foundation. To mark the announcement, representatives from the Apache Software Foundation, the Subversion Project and CollabNet held a joint press conference at the downtown Oakland Marriott in a cozy, if poorly ventilated, hotel conference room. Read on for more details, as well as news about Git repositories and comparing the ASF to the new Codeplex Foundation.

Addressing press and analysts in attendance and on a conference call, conference participants discussed in detail why and how the project will migrate. Noting that several of the founding members of Subversion are also members of the ASF, more than one developer opined that there were too many layers of duplication between the two foundations and initiated the process out of a need for more efficiency. Greg Stein and Sander Striker, long-time ASF members and Subversion contributors, noted that maintaining separate governance of the Subversion Corporation seemed to be inherently inefficient. The decision to move came when a concensus formed that governance of Subversion was beginning to take away from time needed for software hacking. The remaining obstacles centered on how to migrate without negatively impacting the large developer and ISV community that has grown around Subversion. Bill Portelli, CollabNet CEO, mentioned that much of the work needed to ready Suversion for migration, including an IP review, had already taken place as a result of Subversion's incorporation. 

In the migration process, the extra duplication that caused project inefficiencies might actually prove beneficial - because the structure of the Subversion project was designed to mimic the ASF (no surprise, given Brian Behlendorf's and Greg Stein's involvement), the migration period should be minimal with little impact on users and developers. Stein mentioned that the full code repository will move to, and that there will be an incubation period that will proceed "real fast."

Among other highlights of the press conference, Justin Ehrenkrantz, in response to a question about demand from ASF developers for Git or Mercurial, noted that all canonical code repositories will remain on Subversion, although there will be read-only mirrored Git repositories. And in an amusing sidenote, when asked to compare the ASF with the newly formed Codeplex Foundation, Roy Fielding, co-founder of the Apache HTTPD project, expressed his skepticism: "Codeplex will probably end up in trouble in a couple of years" on account of its "interesting" by-laws and a "self-replicating board that, once appointed, will keep reappointing itself over time. I hesitate to guess what Codeplex will become."