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Sun Announces New MySQL, Michael Widenius Forks 306

viktor.91 writes "Sun Microsystems announced three new MySQL products: MySQL 5.4, MySQL Cluster 7.0 and MySQL Enterprise Partner Program for 'Remote DBA' service providers." which showed up in the firehose today next to Glyn Moody's submission where he writes "Michael Widenius, founder and original developer of MySQL, says that most of the leading coders for that project have either left Sun or will be leaving in the wake of Oracle's takeover. To ensure MySQL's survival, he wants to fork from the official version — using his company Monty Program Ab to create what he calls a MySQL "Fedora" project. This raises the larger question of who really owns a commercial open software application: the corporate copyright holders, or the community?"
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Sun Announces New MySQL, Michael Widenius Forks

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  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @09:42AM (#27686447) Journal

    It's not the first time. I've seen supposedly open source die a cruel death at the hands of its creators. Anyone remember the Free Internet Chess Servers? The FICS code is still on dark corners of the net, but you'll have a fight on your hands if you want to try to use it, and I believe the guy who claims to own it because he contributed to it used it as the base of the current incarnation of FICS which is actually a paid service. You can't get the source to the server from there anymore.

    So if Oracle are able to somehow prevent the use of this code, either due to terms of employment of the pricinple devs or by claiming ownership of the code and rescinding the free license, it'll make all these licenses worthless. Oracle has deep pockets. Individual developers don't.

    Hell even if they can't impose their will legally but still manage to get their way due to fragmentation of the group, it's a black day for FOSS.

    I really REALLY hope the devs are able to fork and move on.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @09:56AM (#27686637) Journal

    This leads us to the only part of the GPL that I think is in any way legally questionable (IANAL). I'm not sure it is entirely legally clear if the copyright holder is allowed to revoke the GPL licensing terms or not, no matter what is said in the license. (i.e. They could argue that the license is not a binding contract).

    They could argue that, but even if that were to be found to be the case, for any program with significant distribution, I'd think the doctrine of "detrimental reliance" would apply.

  • Re:It depends (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:03AM (#27686739)

    In the case of a corporate OSS project, no, it doesn't. The developers don't own copyright, if the work in question was a work for hire.

    In the case of a work work hire, the company owns the copyrights, if MySQL AB sold the copyrights to Sun, and there's no reason to think they didn't, Sun owns the copyrights. Oracle bought Sun and all of it's assests, ergo, the copyrights, and thus the code, belong to Oracle.

    GPL is a copyright license, governed by copyright law. The owner of the copyrights, also owns the right to relicense, and litigate against anyone they deem is violating their copyright, and, in theory, that includes forks, which are derivative works. The copyright holder, also, in theory, reserves the right to revoke any licenses that were given out.

    Individual, "community" developers are treated as freelancers and retain copyright (unless they've reassigned it) on their contributions, but any work done by MySQL AB, most likely now belongs to Oracle (unless they donated the copyrights to the FSF, which is how it's "supposed" to be done).

    People erroneously like to think that OSS somehow is immune to normal copyright law. It isn't. Normal rules still apply.

    The question in the summary is indeed stupid, though.

  • by squoozer ( 730327 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:04AM (#27686751)

    As the owner of a software development company I think your would have to be stark raving nuts to open source your main product. It's not that the model can't work it just that if it becomes successful you are pretty much guaranteed to lose control of it at some point.

    If we look at MySQL for example: here's a company that produces half way decent database engine that that make open source. They play the open source game "properly" producing code that a mortal can compile to get a working database. While the company is giving the community what they want everything is hunky dory and there is peace.

    Enter Sun who buy MySQL and suddenly the community isn't happy and it's fork fork fork. Only one of those forks needs to be any good and all of a sudden Suns not bought very much at all. If a company plays nice with the open source community forks are fairly easy but rare. The problem is they hang like a knife (or maybe that should be fork) over the company and if they are unfortunate enough to annoy the community they could eaisly lose control of their product.

    That said I think there are situations where companies can participate in open source. The Linux kernel and Plone being a couple of good examples. Both of those projects are structured very differently to the MySQL situation though as no one company is trying to make a living off the code.

  • Re:Right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rvw ( 755107 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:20AM (#27686973)

    Seriously though, this could be good news for PostgreSQL. Fingers Crossed.

    AFAIK more and more people are using PostgreSQL. More and more providers are supporting it. Five years from now, it could be a whole different landscape...

  • by davecb ( 6526 ) * <> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:28AM (#27687093) Homepage Journal

    So they improved InnoDB to make MySql more attractive to the small folks. If they become as big as eBay and PayPal, they probably will switch to Oracle (;-))


  • by rackserverdeals ( 1503561 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:28AM (#27687095) Homepage Journal

    The gap between MySQL and Oracle is huge and not likely to be closed anytime soon.

    Technology leaders in big companies aren't as into all the open source gossip as the slashdot crowd are and I wouldn't be surprised if many of them didn't even know there were MySQL forks or what that meant.

    They would rather go with a MySQL that is named MySQL and has a big company like Sun or Oracle, the leading db vendor that also owns the only sane database engine for MySQL, than some noname fork. Even if it was started by the MySQL founders and all the developers went to it. If all the MySQL developers go to a fork, well then Oracle developers will take over.

    What's more concerning is IBMs partnership with EnterpriseDB [], which is based on PostgreSQL.

    If you want an open source database that closes the gap with Oracle, use PostgreSQL.

    Sun should have never bought MySQL. Instead they should have put more effort into PostgreSQL. Sun has had some big wins with Solaris and Postgresql [] in the past and offer support for it on Solaris.

    Must be tough since Oracle is an important part of Sun's business but Oracle has done things that could be considered as stabbing Sun in the back too.

  • by kv9 ( 697238 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:30AM (#27687133) Homepage

    The Linux kernel and Plone being a couple of good examples. Both of those projects are structured very differently to the MySQL situation though as no one company is trying to make a living off the code.

    RedHat and SUSE might disagree with you on that one.

  • Re:It depends (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <{akaimbatman} {at} {}> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:50AM (#27687429) Homepage Journal

    Sounds like you haven't been following MySQL AB very closely. Their interpretation of the license was that any time you paired a MySQL database with an application, you needed a MySQL commercial license. Only if the application supported but was independent of MySQL would you not need to follow the terms of the license.

    MySQL even tried to reinforce the idea by purchasing all the third party drivers and changing the licenses to GPL instead of LGPL or otherwise.

    While MySQL's licensing info has changed over the years (interestingly not archived by the WayBack Machine...) even their current page on licensing [] is designed to steer users toward purchasing a commercial license:

    Q3: As a commercial OEM, ISV or VAR, when should I purchase a commercial license for MySQL software?

    A: OEMs, ISVs and VARs that want the benefits of embedding commercial binaries of MySQL software in their commercial applications but do not want to be subject to the GPL and do not want to release the source code for their proprietary applications should purchase a commercial license from Sun. Purchasing a commercial license means that the GPL does not apply, and a commercial license includes the assurances that distributors typically find in commercial distribution agreements.

    For quite a few legal departments I've worked with, "the GPL does not apply" is magic words to their ears. They will instruct the business to grab the commercial license to get around the restrictions. In addition, there is the MySQL libraries issue I referred to above:

    Q4: What is Sun's dual license model for MySQL software?

    A: Sun makes its MySQL database server and MySQL Client Libraries available under both the GPL and a commercial license. As a result, developers who use or distribute open source applications under the GPL can use the GPL-licensed MySQL software, and OEMs, ISVs and VARs that do not want to combine or distribute the MySQL software with their own commercial software under a GPL license can purchase a commercial license.

    The MySQL forking company is going to have to undo all of the anti-GPL ideas they've been riding, and convince companies that they don't need a commercial license. (Since it's not in the forking company's power to provide one.)

  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter@slashdot.2 ... m ['6.t' in gap]> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:56AM (#27687505) Homepage Journal

    The people who own an open source application are the people who are at any point in time putting in the effort of maintaining it.

  • Re:It depends (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrMarket ( 983874 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:26AM (#27687997) Journal
    Makes you wonder if Widenius saw the Oracle/Sun [] acquisition coming. I can't see Ellison putting a lot of support behind a competitor to Oracle's DB. If I were the founder and saw that coming, I'd split off a fork ASAP before my baby died on the vine post-acquisition.
  • Re:It depends (Score:3, Interesting)

    by C0vardeAn0nim0 ( 232451 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:41AM (#27688251) Journal

    you completelly ignore how a client talks to a RDBMS. here's how it works:

    it works just like a web server (*). no, really.

    a client connects to a tcp/ip port, sends a bunch of SQL satements and reads the answer.

    if you know the protocol, you can interface with oracle, mySQL, sybase, whatever without touching oracle's code, which means oracle's license is irrelevant if all you want is to build a client app.

    * this is a gross oversimplification, i know. sorry. but it was better than use a car metaphor, right ?

  • Re:Get it here (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rackserverdeals ( 1503561 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:41AM (#27688259) Homepage Journal

    Skype is one, if not the biggest users of PostgreSQL and has released some tools that they use to manage their PostgreSQL cluster [] that are probably worth looking into.

    With postgresql, you also have the option of scaling vertically instead of just horizontally. It seems that Postgresql scales better than MySQL across multiple cpus/cores [] and handles heavy load better.

    Another interesting benchmark shows that both Postgresql and MySQL handle load better on Solaris instead of Linux [].

  • Re:Right (Score:4, Interesting)

    by marcosdumay ( 620877 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .yamudsocram.> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @11:57AM (#27688521) Homepage Journal
    You know, I never understood the point of InnoDB. One may want a complete, fully functional DBMS, in that case, there is PostgreSQL, or one may want a lightning fast data indexing/accessing machine, and for that case there is MySQL. InnoDB brings something that is slower than Postgres and still isn't a complete DBMS by any point of view.
  • Re:It depends (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @12:07PM (#27688709)

    And here is the crux of the argument and why MySQL is doomed...

    You see if you have a product that binds to MySQL you will have to GPL your product. Why? Simple...

    1) All (most?) drivers are GPL'd.
    2) The MySQL notation uses a specific parameter delimintator that is specific to MySQL. And a 4 year old court decision said that there is no binding between application and RDMS if the same code can be used on other databases. With the special notation, it is not possible and hence constitutes a GPL binding.

    Personally I see MySQL falling off to the way side...

  • Re:It depends (Score:3, Interesting)

    by x2A ( 858210 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:18PM (#27690119)

    "a 4 year old court decision said that there is no binding between application and RDMS if the same code can be used on other databases. With the special notation, it is not possible and hence constitutes a GPL binding"

    If your wording of the court case is accurate and complete (enough) - no it's doesn't mean that. If the court case has ruled on a situation where there is 'no binding', then that court case will only apply to other cases where there is similarly 'no binding'. Reversing a condition doesn't necessarily reverse the outcome.

  • Re:Right (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Glendale2x ( 210533 ) <slashdot AT ninjamonkey DOT us> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:32PM (#27690391) Homepage

    I started with MySQL because it had replication. Yeah, I know Postgres has slony or whatever it's called, but I cringe at the though of maintaining disparate pieces of software (that sometimes don't get along) on something as critical as a database. Maybe it's changed, maybe it hasn't, but that's how it was when I chose to use MySQL.

  • Re:It depends (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:42PM (#27690613)

    If you do it based on a clean-room reimplementation of the database's communication protocol rather than, e.g., relying on the vendor's client libraries

    Who wants to do THAT.

    as GP's post ("as long as you know the protocol...") suggest,

    No. His comment was trying say that the client app is separate from the server app. That you communicate with the server, but that your client app ultimately stands separate. So you can sell your client app without worrying about the license on the server. Which is true. In precisely the same way that I can write and sell a browser ('client app') that talks to IIS7 without worrying about the license for IIS7. Because I'm not selling / distributing IIS7.

    However, in reality, a RDBMS client app is worthless without the RDBMS it talks to; and in the majority of cases, when you sell an rdbms client app, the customer requires their own server. And they generally expect you provide them with it... and at that point the rdbms license becomes a big issue.

    I have to either license the RDBMS for resale so I can bundle / integrate it with my software, or instruct customers that they have to provide an rdbms server that meets my specifications.

    For REALLY BIG enterprisey stuff, people expect the latter.

    But for smaller stuff... like a point of sale system for a small/med business, or the software to run your medical practice, or your brake and muffler shop... or handle the accounting for your 22 location chain of restaurants... people want to just 'buy a system' and install it. And there are a lot of systems like this.

    With a GPL rdbms, I can't distribute it -with- my proprietary application, which means the former option is closed to me, and I have to distribute mysql separately from my app or have them obtain it themselves... either is a hassle.

    The main reason people bought mysql licenses was so that they could sell complete turnkey solutions based on mysql and distrubte mysql WITH their solution, install it all from one CD, one wizard, etc.

  • Re:It depends (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 23, 2009 @03:12PM (#27692431)

    And also consider that Oracle also has the Sleepycat Berkeley DB engine, which you really have to know where to find to get.

    And they also have the old Digital database engine.

    Their method is to acquire competitors and then slowly decrease development and avoid promoting the products. Then the products can silently die.

    You are so full of it! And here is why you're so full of it:

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 23, 2009 @03:48PM (#27693035)

    Sun buys MySQL AB. MySQL AB agrees to sell to Sun. MySQL employees then quit and programmers intend to fork now that they've sold out to the beast itself, Oracle.

    But.. I have to ask.. if they were obviously not thrilled about being bought out by Sun, WHY SELL IN THE FIRST PLACE? This wouldn't be happening today if they remained independant, so it's kind of like saying "Yea, we sold out to Sun for $1 billion, then got pissed off, and forked the project anyway" - am I missing something or does this sound like a scam - Create open source product, create company around said product, ... profit!, fork product out of protest to what the corporate overlords have done... profit!


I've got a bad feeling about this.