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Is MySQL's Community Eating the Company? 223

mjasay writes "Craigslist's Jeremy Zawodny reviews the progress of MySQL as a project, and discovers that through third-party forks and enhancements like Drizzle and OurDelta 'you can get a "better" MySQL than the one Sun/MySQL gives you today. For free.' Is this a good thing? On one hand it demonstrates the strong community around MySQL, but on the other, it could make it harder for Sun to fund core development on MySQL by diverting potential revenue from the core database project. Is this the fate of successful open-source companies? To become so successful as a community that they can't eke out a return as a company? If so, could anyone blame MySQL/Sun for creating its own proprietary fork in order to afford further core development?"
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Is MySQL's Community Eating the Company?

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  • The questions asked in the summary show a fundamental misunderstanding of successful business models in Open Source software: the idea that a fork from some 3rd party is "taking away" funds from the "parent" sponsoring company only goes to show that someone is trying to hold on to their licences/exclusivity/prom dress too much.

    Sun should welcome such improvements into their dev cycle. If such forks are superior, then they should eventually find their way back into the parent model. The successful business models around OSS rely on the services/consulting/support that sit around and on top of the actual OSS code. Red Hat, IBM, HP, and others all understand this. Sun, unfortunately, still has the MySQL model wrong IMHO.

  • Bad article. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Stan Vassilev ( 939229 ) on Monday December 15, 2008 @11:49AM (#26120363)
    Lots of wrong things in this article.

    OurDelta isn't a fork of MySQL. It's builds for the regular MySQL with optionally some third party patches.

    Drizzle isn't a fork of MySQL. It's a complete restart and reengeneering of the database core of MySQL and will likely become a base for the future releases of Sun's MySQL and other database products. Drizzle is to MySQL like MinWin is to Windows, though maybe bad analogy, MinWin is just as porly understood by most people.

    Sun doesn't have a propriatary fork of MySQL. Former MySQL AB wanted to put some proprietary services and applications on top of the existing open-source product, but the community reacted and since Sun never approved of this direction, those plans were immediately dropped.
  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday December 15, 2008 @12:32PM (#26120763) Homepage Journal


    KDE is purely Free Software and there is no proprietary version.

    KDE is build on top of Qt, which is dual-licensed and available either via the GPL or via a commercial license. The code is identical, but the commercial license allows you to build non-GPL products with the tools, and provides some support.

  • by slashdotlurker ( 1113853 ) on Monday December 15, 2008 @01:06PM (#26121141)
    ... that successful open source companies direct their efforts primarily at support, not software as such. If Sun is ignoring this, its doing it to its own detriment.
  • Re:Bad article (Score:4, Informative)

    by krow ( 129804 ) * <brian@tangen[ ]rg ['t.o' in gap]> on Monday December 15, 2008 @01:06PM (#26121151) Homepage Journal


    We typically call Drizzle [launchpad.net] a fork, since we do have a common ancestor at this point (though it is doubtful you could apply a patch between the two). We are pretty up front about this though. Drizzle is supported by Sun which the article does not mention, though we are different in that we have patches that have to date come in from 30+ companies.

    OurSQL is more of a distribution then anything else. Their tree is a collection of patches they apply at each release.


  • by schmiddy ( 599730 ) on Monday December 15, 2008 @02:29PM (#26122315) Homepage Journal

    And SUN can always roll the communities code into its version. Without cost I might add. So what's the beef?

    Not quite. SUN *could* snap up patches from the community that are floating around under the GPL -- but then SUN wouldn't own copyrights to all the code in MySQL (the individual authors whose code they snapped up would retain copyright over the snippets they had written).

    This is why SUN's Contributor Agreement [mysql.com] explicity states that the contributor must assign copyrights to SUN (you hereby assign to us joint ownership...). SUN wants to retain copyright (or at least joint licensing) to the entirety of the MySQL codebase so that they can sell closed source forks to companies wishing to release a product with MySQL embedded, without having to GPL their whole product, or any part thereof. IANAL.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982