January 2, 2010

Why Save MySQL Now?

I am having a hard time understanding why Michael "Monty" Widenius is pushing so hard to Save MySQL as the Oracle takeover of Sun Microsystems looms. It was Widenius himself, one of two primary developers of the product, who introduced a dual-licensing model that allowed clients to purchase supported products from his company, MySQL AB, or to download the open source components themselves.

After a considerable length of time running the company and presumably directing its operations he agreed to sell MySQL AB (including the rights to the MySQL branding and trademarks, apparently) to Sun Microsystems in January 2008, and went to work in Sun's MySQL division. One presumes that a good portion of the billion dollars that Sun paid for the company went to Widenius.

He then proceeded to undermine the MySQL 5.1 launch at the end of November the same year with a rant about its unsuitability for purpose (for which he strangely appeared to feel little or no responsibility) that sent a terrible message to the user community. Then he followed that up less than three months later with an announcement that he was leaving Sun and had started his own business, Monty Program AB. Fair enough.

He now apparently perceives a threat to the MySQL "brand" because Oracle will have no vested interest in ensuring the vigorous development of the MySQL software to compete with its high-margin brand. The question that I am left with is: why, having sold the brand (and since MySQL was open source licensed under version 2 of the GPL, the brand was the main intellectual property transferred along with the support business) does Monty imagine he has any right to control what happens to it?

The software itself is protected under the GPL, so a fork is perfectly practical (and indeed Monty's new company has for some time been working on a branch they call Maria). So all we are talking about is a name, and one which Monty willingly sold. What's the deal?

9 comments:

Damien Lebrun said...

No fork will be able to offer a dual licence. A fork is only good for GPL compatible applications.

Commercial applications will rely on Oracle long term support, open development (if then need their patch to be integrated) and affordable commercial license.

alex dante said...

Agitating for the European Commission to force the changing of the license - one from which he has already repeatedly profited - was the point at which I realised this had nothing to do with "saving" MySQL and everything to do with Monty wanting to continue to capitalise on it.

Anonymous said...

time to move on to NoSQL solutions anyway perhaps?

Rastin Mehr said...

It is still possible to make a business model around the GPL license. They could sell services on a club membership basis while making the code available for download. They could also charge for the distribution of latest code releases.

Masklinn said...

> I am having a hard time understanding why Michael "Monty" Widenius is pushing so hard to Save MySQL as the Oracle takeover of Sun Microsystems looms.

Because Monty is a little bastard. He got millions for MySQL from Sun, then left Sun, built a new company and immediately started shitting all over Sun. And now he's trying to get MySQL back into his clutches paid for by the community so he can sell it again.

Anonymous said...

> Because Monty is a little bastard. He got millions for MySQL from Sun, then left Sun, built a new company and immediately started shitting all over Sun.

+1. But let's also save some blame for Sun management. The folly of spending $1bn in the first place, and doing essentially nothing with it in the second has already been covered elsewhere. To those sins of incompetence, we can now add that they did not even include a basic non-compete clause--or at least a keep your pie-hole shut clause--to the deal.

mrx said...

i agree with your point of view. on a side note I regret dealing with MySQL for technical reasons and I thank God I had the chance to leave it behind in favour of Postgres. MySQL was a nightmare, a very low quality standard product both architecturally and concerning the implementation.

Nicolas Steinmetz said...

Maybe also as MariaDB is based on MySQL code, if Oracle is to kill MySQL, all the code that Monty get for free from the MySQL community, he will have to pay for it. I mean in his firm, he will have not only to pay for specific mariadb code (if we consider that MariaDB == MySQL Code + Some specific code) but for the whole software. Maybe he cannot afford it.

I think his action has one objective but with 2 possibilities :
- Either MySQL remains as is and he still can benefit from the MySQL code for free and opeate business with MariaDB
- Either he tries to make developpers move to MariaDB so that he still has code for free

Kalpesh Patel said...

Oracle had acquired BDB from Sleepycat and they are maintaining it well.