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Oracle Exec Takes Eclipse Helm

The 12-person board of directors at the Eclipse Foundation will announce their first executive director, three months after retooling themselves as a not-for-profit organization.

Mike Milinkovich, formerly the vice president of OracleAS technical services at Oracle, will take over the day-to-day operations of the foundation Tuesday, for one-year terms that last until he resigns or is replaced by Eclipse directors. Though paid, officials would not comment on the exact dollar amount.

Milinkovich will act much like the CEO of any other corporation in the U.S., managing the foundation's small staff of paid employees, fundraising and pitching the promise of his software to potential members. According to the Eclipse Foundation by-laws, he will have to give up his position at Oracle to come on board, since executive directors can't be an employee or officer in a company that's also an Eclipse member.

While he has spent more than 20 years in the tech industry, serving at companies like WebGain, The Object People and Object Technology International who were all Eclipse members, Milinkovich said he has only been peripherally involved in the organization.

And that's a good thing, he said. His "freshness," as he puts it, might be what is needed to mend some fences in the Java community caused by the rift between the formerly IBM-led Eclipse Foundation and Sun Microsystems .

"I'm hoping the fresh face and perhaps a little different outlook might bring those conversations to a more successful close," he said. "What I've been telling everybody is that my door is open, I'm willing to answer the phone."

Before IBM started making very public noises calling for Sun to make Java an open source programming language, IBM and Sun were the center stage performance in a debate about the tools, or integrated development environments , they each championed. IBM and 49 other software companies back Eclipse, while Sun continued development of its own integrated development environment or IDE, NetBeans.

Eclipse, with its more robust industry backing, soon outpaced NetBeans in users, and talks to combine the two technologies sputtered and died out late last year. They've since concentrated on building up their respective projects -- NetBeans 3.6 is due out later this year, while Eclipse 3.0 will be released in mid-June.

One of Milinkovich's first priorities -- he's named several -- is to extend courtesy calls to the software industry's notable Eclipse holdouts: Sun, BEA Systems and Microsoft .

While he plans on calling around in the coming weeks to various companies, he said Sun's going to have to make an effort in order for talks to be fruitful.

"I think to a certain extent, it's up to Sun to decide whether or not they want to have a conversation with Eclipse," Milinkovich said. "I'm certainly making phone calls and introducing myself to [Sun], but ultimately they'll have to decide whether it's in their interest to reopen any conversations."