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Live by the sword, die by the sword

By Greg Sabino Mullane · Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tags: community, database, mysql, open-source, postgres

In an amazing display of chutzpah, Monty Widenius recently asked on his blog for people to write to the EC about the takeover of Sun by Oracle and its effect on MySQL, saying:

I, Michael "Monty" Widenius, the creator of MySQL, is asking you urgently to help save MySQL from Oracle's clutches. Without your immediate help Oracle might get to own MySQL any day now. By writing to the European Commission (EC) you can support this cause and help secure the future development of the product MySQL as an Open Source project.

"Help secure the future development"? Sorry, but that ship has sailed. Specifically, when MySQL was sold to Sun. There were many other missed opportunities over the years to keep MySQL as a good open source project. Some of the missteps:

  • Bringing in venture capitalists
  • Selling to Sun instead of making an IPO (Initial Public Offering)
  • Failing to check on the long-term health of Sun before selling to them
  • Choosing the proprietary dual-licensing route
  • Making the documentation have a restricted license
  • Failing to acquire InnoDB (which instead was bought by Oracle)
  • Failing to acquire SleepyCat (which was instead bought by Oracle)
  • Spreading FUD about the dual license and twisting the GPL in novel and dubious ways

Also interesting is some of the related blog posters and pundits, who seem to think that MySQL has some sort of special mystical quality that requires it be 'saved'. Sorry, but the business world and the open source world are both harsh ecosystems, where today's market leader can become tomorrow's has-been. For all those who are bemoaning MySQL's fate (especially those directly involved in selling this dual-licensed project for money), I offer a quote: "live by the sword, die by the sword". Not that MySQL is dead yet, but it's been dealt quite a number of near-fatal blows, and I'm not convinced that all the forks, spinoffs, well-wishers, and ex-developers can fix that. Should be interesting times ahead.

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