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Monty Wants To Save MySQL 371

An anonymous reader writes "It seems as if the MySQL author is trying hard to win back control over MySQL. In his blog he calls upon the MySQL users to 'Help keep the Internet free' by signing his petition. He fears that if Oracle buys Sun they automatically get MySQL which would spell doom for the project. But I have have mixed feelings with this call for help, because after all — who sold MySQL in the first place?"
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Monty Wants To Save MySQL

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  • Not just his blog (Score:5, Informative)

    by dals_rule ( 1076803 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @12:00PM (#30641604)
    He also spammed everybody who's ever been dumb enough to let him get anywhere near their e-mail address with the same self-serving, hypocritical screed...
  • No he doesn't (Score:5, Informative)

    by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @12:00PM (#30641618)

    This has been hashed out before. Monty wants to force the legitimate owner of MySQL to give up its rights to the documentation and proprietary parts of the source code so he can deploy his own commercial product using MariaDB. It's that simple. He got a big payoff when he cashed out and now he wants to double dip by getting back for free what he has already been compensated for.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 04, 2010 @12:20PM (#30641944)

    Why doesn't he just fork the whole project?

    He has, it's called something like mariadb. Two problems: No one has ever heard of his fork, and what he really wants is the proprietary parts that were developed when mysql (the corp) was under his control.

  • by paulhoffman ( 125803 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @12:21PM (#30641964)

    He apparently went through the database of everyone who had ever submitted a bug report and vacuumed up email addresses, because that's the only way he would have known me to send me his appeal. That's not stooping low: that's slithering.

  • Quite why you'd pick MySQL if you wanted a database to incorporate into your product instead of SQLite or PostgreSQL, I have no idea.

    Shared web hosting providers offer only MySQL, not PostgreSQL. If you want PostgreSQL, that's a lot of money to move up to a virtual dedicated server.

    SQLite isn't intended for high levels of concurrency; its locking is much coarser. One gets plenty of "OperationalError: database is locked". And it only recently gained support for foreign key constraints and data type constraints (by compiling them into triggers) in a newer version that hasn't yet made it into long-term-supported server operating systems such as CentOS 5.x and Ubuntu 8.04.

  • Re:Own fault (Score:5, Informative)

    by sean_nestor ( 781844 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @12:27PM (#30642044) Homepage


    Q: Didn't you sell MySQL to Sun? Do you want to have the cake and eat it too?

    First a little background:

    I started to work on a code that would later become MySQL in 1982. MySQL was released in 1995 under a dual licensing scheme that allowed David Axmark and me to very quickly work full time on developing MySQL.

    I lost the rights to the MySQL copyright in 2001 when MySQL AB was created and we allowed investors to come in. We needed to bring in investors to be able to create a full-scale working company to satisfy big customers and to be able to hire more developers and take MySQL to the next stage. To ensure that MySQL would continue to be free, David and I stated in the shareholder agreement that MySQL AB would have to keep MySQL under an open source license. The problem with a shareholder agreement is that it is terminated when the company is sold. This is just how things works.

    David and I however thought that this would not be a problem, as we would help ensure that MySQL would be bought by a good owner.

    I continued to lead the MySQL project and have been one of the leaders and top contributors for the project since then.

    When the sales process to Sun started, I was at the time not anymore in the MySQL Board (just a MySQL shareholder). I was just informed about the deal, after it was agreed to. I did get money for my shares, that is true, but it did not change in any way my dedication or involvement in the MySQL project.

  • Re:well... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chatterton ( 228704 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @12:30PM (#30642100) Homepage

    Not anymore since version 8 in my book. You must check and compare the last versions to make your mind again.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @12:32PM (#30642124) Journal

    Shared web hosting providers offer only MySQL, not PostgreSQL. If you want PostgreSQL, that's a lot of money to move up to a virtual dedicated server.

    Not entirely true, lots of shared web hosts also provide PostgreSQL, but completely irrelevant. I have never seen a shared web host that runs software that bundles MySQL. They may have third party software that uses MySQL via PHP, for example, but this does not need a commercial license.

    SQLite isn't intended for high levels of concurrency; its locking is much coarser. One gets plenty of "OperationalError: database is locked". And it only recently gained support for foreign key constraints and data type constraints (by compiling them into triggers) in a newer version that hasn't yet made it into long-term-supported server operating systems such as CentOS 5.x and Ubuntu 8.04.

    Again, you're talking about having SQLite installed already, not bundling it with your commercial code. If you need a small db, you can link SQLite directly into your app. If you need a bigger db, you can require the user has Oracle or PostgreSQL installed. You don't to ship a db with your app. If you want to interface with MySQL, then you use one of the permissively-licensed MySQL client libraries. You only need a commercial license for MySQL if you are going to be shipping a copy of MySQL along with your code.

    As for foreign key constraints, you realise that these are still pretty new in MySQL, right? Until around 2002 or so, MySQL users and developers were claiming that no one needed them...

  • by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @12:32PM (#30642132) Homepage Journal

    Shared web hosting providers offer only MySQL, not PostgreSQL.

    Maybe the really crap ones. I have shared hosting with PostgreSQL for a few bucks a month. I mean, Cpanel has full PostgreSQL support, it's not like the hosting provider has to do a lot of work.

  • Re:Own fault (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @12:34PM (#30642150) Journal

    It was the dual model, GPL for the core and BSD for business ventures model that Sun used and that Monty's later business ventures are based on, and that is now at risk.

    Minor nitpick, but it wasn't BSD for businesses. The BSD license permits sublicensing - you can redistribute under the same terms that you received - while the MySQL commercial license does not. If it did, then there would be no problem. One of the commercial customers could simply release the code under the BSDL and everyone could use their fork.

  • Original source [trolltalk.com]

    Background: MySQL is an open-source database used by millions. Originally developed by closely-held Swedish company MySQL AB, it was sold to Sun Microsystems Inc in January 2008. Sun is now in the process of being acquired Oracle Corporation. The deal is still awaiting European regulatory approval.

    Not happy with selling MySQL AB to Sun for a cool billion, Monty Widenius is now trolling regulators, the media, and anyone who will listen in his efforts to get back control of "his" database (without having to give back the money).

    European regulators still don't "get" the open-source software model

    The Europeans are holding up their approval of the Sun-Oracle deal because of concerns that the acquisition will reduce competition in the database industry. Oracle Corp, which is already the dominant player in large-scale corporate databases, already "controls" several open-source database products such as Oracle Berkeley DB and the InnoDB transactional storage engine for MysQL

    The reason I put "controls" in quotes is because it's very difficult to actually exert full control an open-source project, especially one that is licensed under the GPL or similar open-source license. It would probably be more accurate to say that Oracle "sponsors" both BerkeleyDB and InnoDB.

    It's all about being an unabashed hypocrite

    Widenius was originally able to control MySQL by insisting that the copyright for all code contributed by outsiders be assigned to MySQL AB. By doing this, Widenius was able to "dual-license" MySQL, with both a free GPL version and a paid commercial version.

    This licensing scheme was good enough when Widenius was in control of MySQL AB, but now that Oracle is buying Sun, suddenly Widenius wants both the licensing scheme changed to something that would allow his new company to sell modified copies without having to release the source code for their changes, and to have Oracle turn over control of MySQL to someone other than Oracle - perhaps the EU should consider (nudge nudge, wink wink) his new company, Monty Program AB?

    Calls the GPL licensing scheme an "infection", wants the EU to violate international treaties

    You can read more [groklaw.net] about the attempt to get the Europeans to retroactively change the licensing scheme from the GPL to something more "Monty Widenius-friendly":

    We would like to draw attention to the fact that some major concerns about the effects of the proposed transaction could be somewhat alleviated by requiring that all versions of MySQL source code previously released under the GPLv2 license (whether in a General Availability, Release Candidate, Beta, Alpha release, or as public bazaar or bitkeeper revision control trees) must be released under a more liberal open source license that is usable also by the OEM users and would also create an opportuity for other service vendors to compete with offerings comparable to MySQL Enterprise.

    In other words, he wants the European Union to violate Articles 9 and 12 of the Bern Convention on Copyrights and retroactively change the license from the GPL, which requires him to share any changes he makes to source code covered by the GPL, to a license that would let him take from the original authors, but not give back anything in return.

    The "copyleft/infection" principle of the GPL license represents a particular obstacle not only to revenue generation by the fork vendor but also to the overall adoption and market penetration of MySQL, MySQL forks and MySQL storage engines....

    When we were kids, our parents told us "share and share alike." The authors who contributed source code under the GPL adhered to this principle. If you don't want to share your changes, simply don't "borrow" their

  • Re:No he doesn't (Score:2, Informative)

    by fatp ( 1171151 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @12:48PM (#30642380) Journal
    The problem is not linking a library binary object. Instead, it's the use of header files during development.
  • They may have third party software that uses MySQL via PHP

    PHP is under a GPL-incompatible license. If Oracle terminates the FOSS exception for new versions of the MySQL client library, hosts won't be able to use PHP with new versions of the MySQL client library.

    you use one of the permissively-licensed MySQL client libraries.

    I've read posturing from MySQL AB or Sun (I don't remember which) that the permissive licenses on these client libraries are invalid because either A. the very act of using MySQL's wire protocol is considered "combining modules into one Program", B. MySQL uses patented methods licensed only for use with programs that use the GPL client library, or C. both. It might be FUD, but FUD can be effective in today's lawsuit-happy business environment.

  • by toby ( 759 ) * on Monday January 04, 2010 @12:51PM (#30642444) Homepage Journal

    He explains in the related blog post [blogspot.com] that the founders (presumably meaning Widenius and Axmark) received "less than 12% of the deal", which is quite believable.

    The EUR 16 million figure is from Widenius' Wikipedia entry. [wikipedia.org] (Which is famously served by MySQL.:)

    In any case, this large lump of cash is only about half what Sun or Oracle would spend on MySQL R&D in just one year, and obviously a small fraction of what would be needed to buy it back - especially after the sale to Oracle is concluded, and assuming the new owner wants to sell.

  • Re:well... (Score:2, Informative)

    by LS1 Brains ( 1054672 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @12:55PM (#30642504)
    I agree - PG v8 is the stuff awesome is made from. Slightly more confusing for non-techies to set up and get going, but still not exactly difficult - and nothing a quick start guide doesn't solve.

    Migrating your typical apps from MySQL to PgSQL can take a bit of effort, but it definitely isn't difficult.
  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @12:56PM (#30642530)

    I also don't entirely understand why one would buy a proprietary license for a GPL product?

    Read the GPL. It specifically prevents a variety of antisocial activities like not releasing the source code, not releasing it as a part of a non GPL program, etc.

    If you can buy the same code under another license that basically has no obligations other than "send us the money", then you have ... no obligations, which can be convenient primarily for anti-social folks. Dual licensing is basically the equivalent of the catholic church selling indulgences, its OK to sin, if you send us some cold hard cash.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 04, 2010 @01:03PM (#30642648)

    He definitely learned some new tricks so it seems. On my company e-mail address I got the following e-mail, and I can assure you that I did not apply to be kept informed about MySQL on their website. Maybe a post on a mailinglist or two, but thats it. Nevertheless, I received the following e-mail:


    I am contacting you because you have in the past shown interest in
    MySQL and from that I assume you are interested in the future
    well-being of MySQL.

    Now you have a unique opportunity to make a difference. By signing
    the petition at http://www.helpmysql.org/ [helpmysql.org] you can help affect the
    future of MySQL as an Open Source database.

    You can find more information of this on my latest blog post at:
    http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2009/12/help-keep-internet-free.html [blogspot.com]

    Help us spread the world about this petition!
    http://www.helpmysql.org/ [helpmysql.org] is available in 18 languages and every vote
    is important, independent of from where in the world it comes!
    If you know people that are using MySQL, please contact them and
    ensure they also sign the petition!

    Creator of MySQL

    PS: If you already have signed the petition or know about it, sorry for
            reminding you about this! Because of the importance of this issue,
            I am trying to contact every person that I have ever communicated
            with regarding MySQL.

    One has to wonder...

    Because I do care about MySQL but don't care for this petition I visited the website, read his blog (the least you can do is hear someone out) and wrote a somewhat cynical but polite comment how I felt about this action. Surprise; surprise; it never appeared on the (moderated) blog responses. And thats where I have to wonder if he's doing his best for a decent and honest attempt to help MySQL or if he's working out an hidden agenda...

    I for one don't think this is doing the good reputation of MySQL any good.

  • Re:What can SUN do? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Stumbles ( 602007 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @01:04PM (#30642686)
    Just to be clear, GPLed code does not equate to the same as "public domain". As for Sun, no, they cannot. Once code is GPLed it is GPLed. You are correct if Oracle took it over; they cannot stop development, if they tried to then Oracle would forfeit their use of the GPLed code.
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @01:13PM (#30642804) Homepage

    Sorry but all of your ranting reads more like a reason to dump mysql than postgres.

    SQL is that 'standard' environment. The fact that mysql now has yet another reason
    why discriminating users might shun it doesn't make all of those other reasons
    suddenly disappear.

    Fork mysql.
    Use postgres.
    Use a more embedded 'free' solution.
    Use a serious 'non-free' solution.

    There are genuine industry standards here. Where's the tragedy?

  • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @01:16PM (#30642852)
    I mean, it's (still) just another open source project, isn't it? Fork it.

    And fork you too, Monty/Sun/Oracle.

  • by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @01:29PM (#30643050) Homepage

    1. MySQL would need to be a sufficiently revenue-producing entity in order for it to sustain internal development at Oracle. What those revenue producing metrics are is impossible to know from the outside. I'm a pessimist though and would estimate whatever MySQL dev is done in-house will probably get chopped by 2/3 in order to make the revenue fit into their financing targets. That's assuming Oracle doesn't abandon it right away.

    2. This $1 Billion number being thrown around is a PR number. I'd guess Monty's gotten 10's of thousands of dollars for closing the deal. Other than that his payout won't come. He won't get paid because the value of the deal is typically based on payouts based on future earnings. We know Sun couldn't turn it into a bigger revenue producer. With the change in ownership, I'm sure Oracle will renege on whatever deal he had with Sun and tell Monty to "Go pound sand. Your issue is with the Sun Officers who signed the deal, not Oracle."

    3. I bet he's got a non-compete that prevents him from directly starting something. Which, Oracle would enforce while pretending about other parts of the agreement. That's why he's got this petition thing.

    Monty pretended those future payouts would work, got screwed by Sun, and now he's trying to get back in the game.

    Today's entrepreneurial lesson: get paid today, not tomorrow.

  • by sco08y ( 615665 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @01:40PM (#30643194)

    Can you elaborate on the 'correct' with emphasis?

    Google says that both postgresql and mysql get hits from 'incorrect results'. Are you stating that mysql's bugs have gone unfixed while postgre's have not? Or what?

    For fairness, I'm going by MySQL version 5.5, the development version.

    The default storage engine will quietly ignore foreign key constraints and transactions. source for default engine [mysql.com], claim that MySQL parses and ignores for non-InnoDB [mysql.com]

    There are multiple "SQL Modes" that can alter correctness, source [mysql.com], but by default the DBMS doesn't try to validate input. It's pretty confusing what mode does what, and I don't care enough to figure it out, but MySQL's approach has always been Do What I Think You Mean, and if they set the new version to be ANSI compliant by default it'd break all the existing sites built on it.

    (I'm claiming this qualifies as "not being correct" by virtue of the Information Principle. Granted, SQL itself violates it in many ways, but MySQL proved that you can do worse than SQL.)

    PostgreSQL has a far more correct transaction model. In some ways, they're actually better than Oracle. (In Oracle, a DDL statement will start a new transaction, whereas PostgreSQL wraps DDL into a transaction.) For starters, there aren't multiple "storage engines" per table with different transactional behaviors. source, sort of. [postgresql.org]

    Also, PostgreSQL, to my knowledge, correctly validates input. It's kind of hard to cite a source for this since there's just no FAQ entry "Q. How do I configure PostgreSQL to silently corrupt my data? A. You can't." But by the same token, they don't have any long-standing terrible design decisions that they have to maintain compatibility with.

  • by friedo ( 112163 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @01:48PM (#30643292) Homepage
    mysql> create table blurb (foo datetime);
    Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

    mysql> insert into blurb (foo) values ("hello world");
    ERROR 1292 (22007): Incorrect datetime value: 'hello world' for column 'foo' at row 1

    No problems with invalid data types if you bother to RTFM and setup the config properly. (It's not hard. Just turn strict mode on.)
  • Re:Not just his blog (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 04, 2010 @01:54PM (#30643358)

    I can confirm this. I have merely helped post some bugs from Debian to MySQL dev's bug tracker and now I was spammed by "save my MySQL project".

    The entire request is dumb and goes against the merits of what MySQL AB did under his apparent leadership. Remember when they have changed LGPL libmysqlclient library to GPL only and told commercial or other non-free devs to pay up? Now, he wants EU to force Sun/Oracle to release MySQL again under BSD or something? WTF? Now that's hypocrisy!

    Monty, you *SOLD* MySQL AB. That means you *chose* to move on from controlling the project, or have any future say on how it works. Period. Now, walk away. It is not your project anymore.

    PS. I've moved to PostgreSQL after MySQL changed licenses in 4.0.x time and I couldn't be happier. Finally, a database that works and is free.

  • Re:well... (Score:4, Informative)

    by hibiki_r ( 649814 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @02:06PM (#30643508)

    The main difference IIRC is that you actually have to enable postmaster to take connections, instead of being locked down by default. I'm glad it's locked by default myself, but there's people that don't want to read any documentation.

    Postgres is a freaking enterprise database. Its documentation is so good, it makes every other framework in my development stack look bad. But people complain because they'd rather have the easy things be trivial, without caring about the difficulty of the not so easy things.

    We also run MySQL at work, and we have a whole lot more problems with it. The developers, who were the ones that chose MySQL in the first place, are considering a switch to Postgres, based on how fewer headaches we get with our Postgres installations.

  • Derivative works (Score:2, Informative)

    by dhTardis ( 1326285 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @02:13PM (#30643612)

    Personally, I feel the most reasonable interpretation (from the standpoint of being consistent and, well, logical) would be that linking does *not* create a derivative work (for example, is Firefox a derivative of the Flash plugin, or Flash plugin a derivative of Firefox? Seems to me they are fairly independent works that use the mechanism of dynamic linking to work together.)

    No one claims that Firefox is a derivative of Flash, or vice versa. What is claimed is that the resulting memory space with both objects loaded is a derivative work of each, which can only be created with the license-granted consent of the copyright holders of both objects. The trick: how strong is this argument since it applies only to the ephemeral address space created at runtime by the user and not, say, by Mozilla or Adobe?

    In the obvious case of MegaCo distributes foo that always links dynamically to libgpled.so, one can argue that MegaCo is effectively creating that combined object because there is no other way that their software could be used. But IANAL, of course, and I think the real lawyers (and judges) haven't fully settled the question.

  • Re:well... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ecuador ( 740021 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @02:16PM (#30643682) Homepage

    Actually, the P in Lamp is supposed to be "Perl/PHP/Python". And yeah, Perl has seen better times.
    As for Apache being destroyed by being touched by MS... what a slashdot thing to say! ;)

  • Re:Own fault (Score:3, Informative)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @02:43PM (#30644058) Journal

    So, in other words, he doesn't want to save MySQL, per se, he wants to have his cake and eat it too; sell MySQL for $$$ and then find a way to continue profiting from something he already sold.

  • by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Monday January 04, 2010 @03:59PM (#30645052) Homepage

    No problems with invalid data types if you bother to RTFM and setup the config properly. (It's not hard. Just turn strict mode on.)

    Strict mode is a client setting [mysql.com], which means that you're always at the mercy of applications turning it off and inserting garbage. And there's the "IGNORE" keyword to allow that too. There is no way to make a MySQL server reject all incoming bad data.

  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:3, Informative)

    by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Monday January 04, 2010 @04:31PM (#30645628) Homepage

    Quoting the reference I linked to and highlighting the important bit:

    "You can change the SQL mode at runtime by using a SET [GLOBAL|SESSION] sql_mode='modes' statement to set the sql_mode system value. Setting the GLOBAL variable requires the SUPER privilege and affects the operation of all clients that connect from that time on. Setting the SESSION variable affects only the current client. Any client can change its own session sql_mode value at any time."

    Yes, you have to be the superuser to change the global mode. And the fact that it says "Server SQL Modes", but they're not really enforced by the server even if you change the defaults should a client decide to go sloppy, is exactly why this behavior is so shady. It's an example of exactly why the upthread idea of PostgreSQL trying to be as correct as possible by design from day one is so important--you can't just bolt this stuff on later and expect there to not be a hole left behind.

  • Re:Me too! (Score:2, Informative)

    by montywi ( 1713110 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @04:37PM (#30645738)

    Yes, you can use the old version of MySQL, but there is no guarantee that a fork will come up and be able to continue development if Oracle slowly starts to close up MySQL development.

    The reason is that if MySQL is only available under GPL, there will be very few companies that can make direct revenue on MySQL and because of this, there is very little incentive to put money into MySQL development.

    All GPL libraries have the same problem, which is the reason why there is so few GPL libraries that are actively developed.

    Look at PostgreSQL for example; Many core developers works at a companies that is using PostgreSQL with proprietary code. If PostgreSQL was under GPL, they could not do that and would not have an incentive to do development on it.

  • Re:How many times... (Score:2, Informative)

    by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @06:44PM (#30647584) Homepage

    Very few people doing anything serious with MySQL use MyISAM much. InnoDB ships with it and is a nice engine.

    And (ironically?) Innobase is already a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oracle.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.