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Mickos Urges EU To Approve Oracle's MySQL Takeover 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the it'll-be-cool-trust-me dept.
mjasay writes "Former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos has written to EU Commissioner of Competition Neelie Kroes to urge speedy approval of Oracle's proposed purchase of Sun, including the open-source MySQL database. The EU has been worried that Oracle's acquisition of Sun could end up hurting competition by dampening or killing MySQL's momentum. But in his letter, Mickos separates MySQL-the-community from MySQL-the-company, arguing that Oracle's takeover cannot hurt the MySQL community: 'Those two meanings of the term "MySQL" stand in a close, mutually beneficial interaction with each other. But, most importantly, this interaction is voluntary and cannot be directly controlled by the vendor.' In a follow-up interview with CNET, Mickos indicated that he has no financial interest in the matter, but instead argues he 'couldn't live with the fact that [he's] not taking action,' and is 'motivated now by trying to help the employees still at MySQL and Sun, and by an urge to bring rational discussion to the matter.'"
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Mickos Urges EU To Approve Oracle's MySQL Takeover

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  • Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Futurepower(R) (558542) <MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com> on Saturday October 10, 2009 @12:59PM (#29704347) Homepage
    I'm happy he is taking action.

    Too often, technically-knowledgeable people don't recognize or accept the need for them to be social leaders.
    • by davecb (6526) *

      And especially to offset FUD from people who don't want the Oracle/Sun merger to happen.

      --dave (who wants them to finish merging so he can get more consulting gigs) c-b

      • "... people who don't want the Oracle/Sun merger to happen."

        Who are they, and why?
        • by rtb61 (674572)

          I see the Sun Oracle merger producing and very interesting mix of closed source and open source software 'systems'. Proprietary and open applications on top of an open operating system. They are certainly large enough and have sufficient commercial activity to do very interesting things not only with MySQl but also OpenOffice and even Linux. So potentially an enormous and probably lethal threat to the single monopolist incumbent. Of course the convicted monopolist can't really say all that much so it is st

        • by davecb (6526) *

          Any competitor in either software or hardware, who sees Oracle + Sun as the kind of full-line business that IBM used to be in the mainframe business.

          Right now, Sun sales are down as people wait to see if the deal will go through, and the competition is going door to door saying "buy from us, Sun is going out of business".

          --dave

  • Alternatives (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 10, 2009 @01:08PM (#29704411)
    if they mess MySql up(even more that is), people can just move to Postgre, Firebird, Couchdb, Drizzle, etc.. There's anything but a shortage of open-source databases.
    • Re:Alternatives (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jadavis (473492) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @01:36PM (#29704551)

      Moving from one database system to another is no trivial matter, even if that other system is a fork.

      I agree with Marten Mickos here. There's no benefit to dragging this process out. If Oracle owning MySQL would be a problem, the time to fix it was months ago (I realize that may have been impossible); leaving it in extended purgatory is worse. MySQL has some degree of protection by using the GPL license, anyway.

      Disclaimer: I'm a PostgreSQL user, and I haven't used MySQL for a while.

      • by Korin43 (881732)
        If it's GPL, couldn't they just fork it now? And by that I mean:
        • Oracle buys Sun
        • Oracle kills MySQL
        • Someone else forks MySQL (gives it a new name, makes it run on the same port)
        • From the perspective of the programs using it, nothing has changed
        • by FallLine (12211) *

          From the perspective of the programs using it, nothing has changed

          Except MySQL's users generally are not just installing a static set of code that will never need changing. They are implicitly wedding themselves to the product and depending on its backers to supply patches as-needed and on the promise of future enhancement to support new hardware, better design, etc. In other words, the quality of the group behind the fork and their ability to attract funding to continue its development is a major quest

    • by jjohnson (62583)

      The problem with moving is that MySQL (like PHP) has a huge install base in ISPs. If you're using shared hosting, you've got MySQL available, guaranteed, and that tends to determine what people use and know.

      I develop with both PHP and Python/Django, and every time I try to push for the latter, I have to overcome the perception that PHP is king and should be used, even in environments that don't require it.

      • The problem with moving is that MySQL (like PHP) has a huge install base in ISPs. If you're using shared hosting, you've got MySQL available, guaranteed, and that tends to determine what people use and know.

        I'm seeing more and more ISPs offer PostreSQL in addition to MySQL. They don't really support it like they do MySQL, but it is being offered more.

        • by jjohnson (62583)

          I've been paying attention to this as well, and invariably the version of PostgreSQL is older, usually 7.x when 8.4 is the latest production-ready release. I would love to see more current versions of PostgreSQL.

          • by IANAAC (692242)
            I just checked my hosting... they offer 8.3.3. But anything I've done should so far with PostgreSQL should be doable with the 7.x series (I don't do anything difficult, just dictionaries and glossaries.
            • by jjohnson (62583)

              Who's your host? My issue with 7.x is that a large part of the work on 8 was improving performance, something they were largely successful with.

              • by IANAAC (692242)
                Siteground.

                I had heard some bad things about them, but they've never given me any trouble. I can pretty much run whatever I want.

            • The problem isn't the database itself. For a lot of use, there's not much difference. It's the tools to write to, and access, that database. If I've got to replace all the CPAN published, developer abusing Perl that my MySQL users have become accustomed to, I want really compelling benefits from the switchover.

  • Fork it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ghubi (1102775)
    It's not that easy to kill an open source project.
    • Re:Fork it (Score:5, Informative)

      by Z00L00K (682162) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @01:21PM (#29704483) Homepage

      There is already a fork: MariaDB [askmonty.org] by Monty, one of the MySQL founders.

      • by Tablizer (95088)

        I'd prefer it named "MontyDB" over "MariaDB". The second sounds Catholic.

        • Re:Fork it (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 10, 2009 @02:28PM (#29704955)

          "The name MySQL (just like the MyISAM storage engine) comes from Monty's first daughter "My". MariaDB continues this tradition by being named after his younger daughter. "

    • Re:Fork it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jadavis (473492) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @02:06PM (#29704783)

      It's not that easy to kill an open source project.

      It takes a long time to put together a real community; it doesn't happen overnight. However, dismantling one can happen overnight, and that may be what has taken place already.

      There is a promising amount of development, excitement, and support behind some of the forks like Drizzle and MariaDB. But losing a development team and then trying to reassemble it somewhere else is going to be a serious setback, and it will fracture the community.

      When the forks start to diverge there will be even more problems. Application developers will pick fork X, and then people will start asking in the mailing lists "I am having a problem and I am using fork Y". Whether or not the difference between X and Y is causing the problem is not important -- what's important is that it will take effort for the application developers to figure it out.

      The "open source can't be killed" idea is great in theory, but in practice it takes more than a license. It takes a real community effort, and requires real leadership, full-time people, a consistent message, and they have to be able to deliver a product, not a stream of patches. These challenges are all magnified for a database system, where it's hard to find those critical few developers that you can rely on, and the need for quantized releases is greater (to avoid the pain of data migration).

      All that being said: I think MySQL can pull itself together. But it takes a lot of work, and the thinking that "open source can't be killed" is a sure-fire way to make sure the necessary work is not done, and that will lead to the death of the project.

  • Let them (Score:3, Informative)

    by Norsefire (1494323) * on Saturday October 10, 2009 @01:17PM (#29704463) Journal
    I use MySQL exclusively and it would nice if Oracle were given a shot at supporting MySQL. Even if they do try and kill it to gain leverage for their own database, there's always MariaDB [askmonty.org] (a MySQL fork by Monty Widenius, the original creator of MySQL).
  • by ZipK (1051658) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @01:19PM (#29704473)
    Even the threat of Oracle owning MySQL is motivating commercial users to look more closely at the BSD-licensed PostgreSQL. If the sale goes forward, it may the biggest boost yet to the PostgreSQL community.
    • by shentino (1139071)

      It's like everyone jumping overboard before they even know if the boat's sinking.

      Then, the bankrupt captain, having lost all his passengers, has to scuttle the boat.

      • by jjohnson (62583)

        The threat of Oracle leaving MySQL to whither on the vine is part of it, but it's also the actions of the MYSQL AB founders forking their product, and several more forks in response. No one is quite sure which is the 'correct' or standard MySQL anymore.

        MySQL's install base in ISPs is huge, though, and will determine a lot about usage going forward. There'll really only be a seismic shift from MySQL to PostgreSQL if the ISPs make the move.

      • by ZipK (1051658)

        It's like everyone jumping overboard before they even know if the boat's sinking.

        It's more like everyone rushing to the lifeboats as they see who the new captain is going to be. Commercial users, who currently license MySQL from Sun, will have to think long and hard about those contracts coming under the control (and renewal parameters) of Oracle.

  • Oracle owns Berkeley DB, from when they bought Sleepy Cat Software. Has anyone heard of _any_ useful progress in Berkeley DB, which used to rule Linux for lightweight, small databases? I thought not: they supported it a little bit, and it's been profoundly ignored for years now, by both its owners and the open source community at large.

    I'm afraid that MySQL is fated for the same end: Oracle has little incentive to support it properly or to expand its role when it competes directly with their core products.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nxtw (866177)

      Oracle owns Berkeley DB, from when they bought Sleepy Cat Software. Has anyone heard of _any_ useful progress in Berkeley DB, which used to rule Linux for lightweight, small databases?

      Berkeley DB is still being developed [oracle.com] with new features - such as those in version 4.8, released less than a month ago [oracle.com].

      Anyway, Berkeley DB is a different kind of database than MySQL or Oracle Database.

      I thought not: they supported it a little bit, and it's been profoundly ignored for years now, by both its owners and the open s

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Surely the rise of SQLite [wikipedia.org] has something to do with what you perceive to be Berkeley DB's decline?

        Don't tell that to the OpenLDAP people. [openldap.org]

      • I'm looking at the Berkeley DB 4.8 release notes: thank you for the pointer. The claim in your first URL that Berkeley DB "requires zero administration" has me laughing so hard, I almost sprayed something nasty on my keyboard. And this release is roughly 18 months lsince the last minor version release: please exuse my surprise. Now, reviewing the release notes, is there anything that we should care about? Not much. db_sql might be handy, if anyone used Berkeley DB anymore. The only reason to have it is to _

    • by jjohnson (62583)

      MySQL has been forked several times since Sun bought them. There's now a confusing welter of forks of MySQL, and no one is sure which is the 'real' one anymore since the original owners of MySQL AB are responsible for one of the forks.

      MySQL has an ace in the hole, however: a HUGE install base in ISPs. MySQL is THE default database you're going to be exposed to for web hosting, and a perception that it's being allowed to whither on the vine will kick up a backlash against Oracle (just as it did with Sun).

    • by physburn (1095481)
      I use both Berkeley DB and MySQL. Berkeley is still open source, still regularly updated, and works well enough. Its more like a disk backed hashtable than a full database though. MySQL is an eccential part of the current popular open source platform. Its the M in LAMP. So its very important it stays safe. Fortantuately becuase Open Source is Open Source, if Oracle break MySQL, another term could developed a new fork of MySQL.

      ---

      Databases Feeds [feeddistiller.com] @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

  • what competition? (Score:2, Informative)

    by mcover (1653873)
    I don't see why the EU is worried in the first place. First of all MySQL could never compete with Oracle's DB. They will never compete and never have. Completely different use-cases. Apart from that, I'm still using PostgreSQL and if i had an app specifically designed for MySQL, I'd go with Drizzle(fork).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jadavis (473492)

      Completely different use-cases.

      There's some truth to that, but that's hyperbole. The use cases are not disjoint.

      Additionally, MySQL may represent a general shift away from the traditional SQL architecture towards things like MySQL and non-SQL database systems. In some sense, Oracle is not just fighting to keep its customers on Oracle, it's trying to keep customers using traditional SQL systems.

      I happen to think that the traditional SQL architecture is a pretty good one, and much better for general purpose d

  • Oracle can effectively kill MySQL. Although anyone can fork MySQL and support it in theory, the reality is not this simple.

    To continue to be a force in the marketplace (albeit at the low end), the maintainers will need real funding to drive and manage the development. The primary problem is that essentially the only business models that actually works for open source companies is the hybrid licensing model and this option would almost certainly be unavailable to them.

    The support business model frankly isn

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by ClosedSource (238333)

      I got modded down to negative numbers last time I suggested this but perhaps the European Commission is looking for a new revenue stream since it looks like MS won't be supporting them anymore.

    • by jadavis (473492)

      Although anyone can fork MySQL and support it in theory, the reality is not this simple.

      Exactly right.

      The primary problem is that essentially the only business models that actually works for open source companies is the hybrid licensing model

      That's just not true. PostgreSQL doesn't use hybrid licensing. Linux doesn't, either. Yet both projects seem to attract valuable people and turn them into great communities that accomplish a lot.

      I think your argument is too focused on money being sent to some central au

      • by FallLine (12211) *

        Linux doesn't, either.

        Much of the Linux's kernel development is subsidized by several large companies with an interest in seeing it grow as platform and a handful of embedded-device type companies. Then you have distros like Redhat that make money by selling update services essentially. It's an unusual model to fund development and not one that is applicable to most other software markets. Its success as a product is almost entirely in the server-space and this in part an accident of history (in my opi

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jadavis (473492)

          Granted, there are some exceptions, but that's just what they are: EXCEPTIONS.

          They aren't just "exceptions", you have hand-waved away a majority of the free software people use.

          I don't know of any free software compiler that uses that approach (not gcc, ghc, python, ruby, perl, etc.); nor any OS (GNU+linux, freebsd, opensolaris); nor any desktop environment or GUI tools; nor any browsers or email clients; nor text editors/IDEs. For database systems, MySQL and BerkeleyDB do, but postgresql, firebirdsql, and

          • by FallLine (12211) *

            They aren't just "exceptions", you have hand-waved away a majority of the free software people use.

            I was talking about those really vibrant projects with large and sustained development efforts. You know, as in, those that have a bunch of full time developers, QA teams, technical writers, and so on. I admit there are a large number of smaller projects and some of those have significant and unique value in this world. However, there is a big difference between, say, DRH working part-time on sqlite (neve

            • by jadavis (473492)

              You make some interesting points, but I think we'll have to agree to disagree, mostly on matters of scale and importance.

              One clarification:

              not so much because people are philosophically opposed to making contributions that might get used in a closed-source project

              That's not what I was trying to say. Any BSD software could potentially be used in a closed-source project, and lots of people contribute to BSD projects.

              But I would not contribute to a project where I had to sign over my copyright unless I had a v

              • by FallLine (12211) *

                That's not what I was trying to say. Any BSD software could potentially be used in a closed-source project, and lots of people contribute to BSD projects.

                But I would not contribute to a project where I had to sign over my copyright unless I had a very clear reason for doing so.

                Why not? The reasons for the company wanting this are pretty clear. They need that to do any kind of transaction not compliant with the GPL license and their current-day business model depends on it. I suppose they might try to c

                • by jadavis (473492)

                  Do you another specific reason or is it principle of it that bothers you?

                  Let's say I want to implement the same or a very similar patch for a different project. If I've seen the previous patch (because I wrote it) but I signed all of my rights away, maybe they can make a copyright claim over any similarities between the two implementations.

                  I should say that I don't really understand copyright well enough to know whether the above makes any sense legally.

                  It's mostly principle, but there are practical differe

  • there are lots of kinds of open source project. some thrive on the mind share of individuals. on the other end of the spectrum are those that are backed 100% by employees that are paid to be involved in (to run) the community. both are perfectly valid and valuable.

    sun-mysql is the latter. anything that affects the sun-mysql employees (greatly) affects the community. mysql couldn't exist without the involvement of those people, people that will be under the thumb of oracle.

    also, you have to look at motivati

  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @04:13PM (#29705733) Homepage Journal
    Once upon a time, MySQL supported the use of Berkeley DB [sleepycat.com] as one of its back end storage engines. Then Oracle acquired Sleepycat Software, the makers of Berkeley DB (which was, and still is, open source). MySQL didn't like the idea of Oracle controlling their back end, so they phased out its support [linux.com].

    Now it doesn't matter anymore. Oracle is going to own MySQL and Berkeley DB. In my opinion, Berkeley DB is the finest storage engine on the planet. Either with a relational/schema layer on top of it (like MySQL), or all by itself (in which case it's simple key/value pairs), it is insanely reliable and its performance is excellent. I can't say enough good things about it. So how about it, Oracle? Can we get these two great pieces of software together again?
    • by Enleth (947766)

      Take a look at Tokyo Cabinet [1978th.net] then. Better in just about every technical aspect - it only lacks in corporate backing and marketing, probably because the author is a die-hard programmer, not very interested in those aspects of project management. Otherwise it's absolutely brilliant. Oh, and it comes with an optional, very simple and fully ACID server for network access and cuncurrency and a full-text search engine.

  • Having used MySQL in an enterprise computing environment, I reckon even Oracle's worst enemies would also urge the EU To Approve Oracle's MySQL Takeover. ;-)
  • Linux, Apache, PostgreSQL, PHP.

    Postgres is BSD licensed. Even if the parent company is the victim of a hostile takeover, that means you can fork the existing codebase, and keep developing and using it. It also means that it doesn't have the viral aspect of the GPL, either; so it's more business friendly as well.

    • Postgres is BSD licensed. Even if the parent company is the victim of a hostile takeover, that means you can fork the existing codebase, and keep developing and using it.

      Which you can also do with something that's GPL. Such as MySQL... and the Linux kernel.

      It also means that it doesn't have the viral aspect of the GPL, either; so it's more business friendly as well.

      Only if by "business-friendly" you mean "easy for businesses to take while giving nothing in return".

      • by petrus4 (213815)

        Only if by "business-friendly" you mean "easy for businesses to take while giving nothing in return".

        Paranoia about reciprocity, again. You know, it's interesting how few of the people I see that support this meme, actually write code.

      • Only if by "business-friendly" you mean "easy for businesses to take while giving nothing in return".

        PostgreSQL itself -- which is financially supported largely by businesses making money off it, particularly EnterpriseDB -- and SQLite -- likewise supported by a bunch of businesses using it to make money -- are both proof that, even if this might be true in theory from a certain viewpoint, its not necessarily how things work out in practice. The reason is pretty obvious, a licensing scheme (which a dedicati

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