In a recent article regarding SUN Microsystems` purchase of the MySQL database, I alluded to many concerns that were raised by the MySQL community about the future of MySQL and fears that the database product they freely contributed to for so many years, was to be snatched away by another Internet juggernaut.
I was surprised to receive and email from no less than Marten Mickos, Senior Vice President, Database Group, Sun Microsystems. His response outlined many of the misconceptions and cleared many of the rumours and FUD surround the acquisition. After several email exchanges with Marten, I finally received a response from another MySQL heavy weight, Kaj Arno, VP MySQL Community Relations, MySQL Ambassador to Sun. Rather than bang on about it, here is the unedited reply, reproduced, with kind permission from Marten Mickos and Kaj Arno.
Kevin, Sorry for the late reply! Most of our thinking is communicated already in http://blogs.mysql.com/kaj/2008/05/06/mysql-server-is-open-source-even-backup-extensions/ which last time I read had 29 comments. I hope the reasoning in that blog entry will shed light on the situation and provide a good reason to stay with MySQL. In particular, I'd like to stress and repeat these points: As reported from CommunityOne: - MySQL Server is and will always remain fully functional and open source, - so will the MySQL Connectors, and - so will the main storage engines we ship. In addition: - MySQL 6.0’s pending backup functionality will be open source, - the MyISAM driver for MySQL Backup will be open source, and - the encryption and compression backup features will be open source, where the last item is a change of direction from what we were considering before. On top of the blog, I'd also like to come with a comparison between MySQL and PostgreSQL, where I personally think the MySQL licensing based on GPL is superior. I know that opinion is not shared by the PostgreSQL camp, whose differing opinion I obviously respect. In http://phpro.org/articles/SUN-MySQL-PgSQL.html you portray the BSD licensing of PostgreSQL as being somehow *safer* for the community than the GPL licensing of MySQL (at least that's how I interpret it, although I may be reading between the lines). That's something I don't fully agree with. First, as to your statement "There can be no closing of source": That applies to any FOSS license -- GPL or BSD. What once was open, will remain open in both licenses. Second, as to your statement "[There can be no] selective feature releases": I think most commercial spin-offs of PostgreSQL are just that, namely selective feature releases. So far, MySQL has had zero such releases, and now, we're merely *contemplating* them. So to me, MySQL has a track record of being more open (in fact, fully open for all of MySQL Server) than the combination of PostgreSQL and its commercial derivatives. That said, we reserve the right to one day *do* such releases. And my third objection to your blog entry (which I otherwise follow and respect for its helpful attitude of wanting to guide Sun to do what is right) relates to the alleged aggravation of MySQL contributors, that their code would now be somehow limited. We don't expect and have never expected anybody to contribute code to MySQL, and see that code "spontaneously privatised" (as the term went when the Soviet Union was dismantled and common goods were made private without reason or legal fundament). There is no motivation for anyone to contribute under such circumstances. Thus, to the degree we do get contributions and apply them to the MySQL Server code base, while we require ownership of the code, we can also guarantee that the code will remain out in the open. In summary, I'm thankful for your comments and help to keep Sun on course. And I would appreciate to hear what you think about the above semi-philosophical thinking! Best regards, Kaj Kaj Arnö <******@mysql.com>, Sun Microsystems GmbH VP MySQL Community Relations, MySQL Ambassador to Sun ********** ****** München, Deutschland Mobile +**-***-*******; Skype ******* Sitz der Gesellschaft: Sun Microsystems GmbH, Sonnenallee 1, D-85551 Kirchheim-Heimstetten Amtsgericht München: HRB 161028 Geschäftsführer: Thomas Schröder, Wolfgang Engels, Dr. Roland Bömer Vorsitzender des Aufsichtsrates: Martin Häring