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Is MySQL's Community Eating the Company?

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the get-yer-drizzle-on dept.

Databases 223

mjasay writes "Craigslist's Jeremy Zawodny reviews the progress of MySQL as a project, and discovers that through third-party forks and enhancements like Drizzle and OurDelta 'you can get a "better" MySQL than the one Sun/MySQL gives you today. For free.' Is this a good thing? On one hand it demonstrates the strong community around MySQL, but on the other, it could make it harder for Sun to fund core development on MySQL by diverting potential revenue from the core database project. Is this the fate of successful open-source companies? To become so successful as a community that they can't eke out a return as a company? If so, could anyone blame MySQL/Sun for creating its own proprietary fork in order to afford further core development?"

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more of a sign they need to improve their process (4, Insightful)

eean (177028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120101)

Monty has been blogging some about the need to be a more inclusive project. Its one thing to be open source, but to be an open source community project thats still owned by a company takes real effort on the part of the company. Perhaps this would encourage some of these enhancements to be rolled into the main branch.

Re:more of a sign they need to improve their proce (-1, Flamebait)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120303)

I think I speak for most of the long-term Unix community, in this thing:

Fuck Sun.

Re:more of a sign they need to improve their proce (2, Insightful)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120445)

If Sun actually cared for the "long term unix community" you speak of, you wouldn't have that "unix like" OS in hand.

Thank God both them and various companies are wise to ignore such long term communities so they keep doing favours.

Re:more of a sign they need to improve their proce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26122367)

If Sun actually cared for the "long term unix community" you speak of, you wouldn't have that "unix like" OS in hand.

Bullshit. The reason most people use Linux is because the hardware costs a fifth as much as Sun kit and also supports Windows, and the software is free as in beer. Linux was started because Linus wanted a cheap unixlike on x86.

Re:more of a sign they need to improve their proce (4, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120461)

I know a long term Unix Hack. He says. "Fuck Sun. Fuck IBM. Fuck SCO. Fuck Microsoft..... come to think of it Sun aint too bad"

Re:more of a sign they need to improve their proce (2, Interesting)

Luke has no name (1423139) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121623)

Exactly. I have very few problems with Sun, and I don't HATE Microsoft like so many people do. Making money is not evil. I wouldn't want to see the MySQL project thrash Sun. Although I doubt it will: Most companies I've heard speak about their software support DEMAND professional support they can call whenever they have a problem. Sun provides that.

Re:more of a sign they need to improve their proce (4, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121997)

I don't HATE Microsoft like so many people do. Making money is not evil.

Note: I strongly dislike Microsoft, but not because they're profitable.

Re:more of a sign they need to improve their proce (5, Insightful)

localman (111171) | more than 5 years ago | (#26122765)

I don't hate MS either, but I don't think the reason people hate MS is because they make money. It's because they've often been assholes about it. People generally love a good success story as long as the recipient of the success seems to have done it in a fair way. Witness Warren Buffet. Or Google... as long as they shy away from evil. Apple is loved for now, but they're evil enough to get themselves thoroughly hated down the road.

But the point is: making money is not evil, but if you make money while being evil, people will hate you. And that's as it should be, really. Nobody likes to see assholes get ahead.

Cheers.

Re:more of a sign they need to improve their proce (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26121291)

no, fuck YOU.

Re:more of a sign they need to improve their proce (5, Interesting)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120711)


An important question is not whether the Open Source community is eating some of SUN's cake, but whether the cake itself (and thus SUN's total amount of cake) is larger because of the community. I don't have any figures but this is at least a considerable possibility. After all you have something technically superior like PostgreSQL *ahem* ;) but MySQL has far greater popularity which I think it would have been held back from without the surrounding community and their efforts.

Half of a big cake or all of a small one. SUN bet on the former, I think.

Re:more of a sign they need to improve their proce (4, Funny)

hubritc (770594) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121619)

THE CAKE IS A LIE!

Looking at the title... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120109)

MySQL's community is definitely eating the company. You can tell by the fact that SUN's blood is getting spilled into random databases, causing the icky red stuff to pollute random fields in internet databases. I hear it can cause a web page to suddenly start coloring otherwise normal headers in crimson.

Nevermind, I just refreshed slashdot. Either I'm smoking something, or CmdrTaco is fucking around with me again. Cut it out! You're making my psychiatrist rich!

This is really MySQL's fault (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120119)

I keep doing a select statement to download the distribution, thinking it'll only return one result, but it keeps returning more. I submitted it as a bug, but it was marked as WONTFIX.

How could we blame sun (4, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120151)

For paying that much money for a company that gives its core product away for free!? MySQL made a bit of money through support contracts, but now they have a lot more zeros to account for when they pay the bills.

This isn't MySQL's fault. If someone wanted to pay me 3million for my piece of crap car, I would sell it for half that, so they thought they were getting a bargain, but how could Sun justify paying that much?

Re:How could we blame sun (5, Insightful)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120371)

Nevermind Sun's recent layoffs. I'm just waiting for them to start asking for a bailout (since we're on the topic of cars here).

As far as Sun's proprietary MySQL goes, I'm sure it will be just as popular in comparison to the open MySQL as their StarOffice is to OpenOffice, another community product eating away at the company. The only distro I'm aware of that comes stock with StarOffice is Solaris, which is losing whatever popularity it had to OpenSolaris, another community-driven product quickly gaining popularity.

I'm lost as far as a solution to this goes, but Sun needs to do something before this gets out of hand and they start losing their company.

Re:How could we blame sun (4, Funny)

EmperorKagato (689705) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121137)

Maybe they'll become OpenSun.

Re:How could we blame sun (4, Insightful)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120601)

how could Sun justify paying that much?

About 38% of Sun's income, ~$5.26 billion, is derived from services. If MySQL represents just $100M of that $5.26B, the purchase price was probably fair, given that their support sector generally operates quite profitably.

SunSQL (5, Funny)

azior (1302509) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120159)

Maybe Sun should rename their fork of MySQL to SunSQL Solaris Edition JDK

I'm ready to use PostgreSQL now

Re:SunSQL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26122487)

Don't you mean "SunOneSQL Solaris Edition"?

Welcome to GPL/OSS (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120167)

This is always the case when you release open source. Someone else can offer support cheaper than you. Someone else can make modifications that people want. Someone else can even fork it and choke you out if they're doing whatever gets more attention than what you are doing. The good news (for them) is that you provided them a getting-started point with all your work so they didn't have to put all that time (and money, since time is money) into getting it off the ground. This is the way GPL/OSS is *supposed* to work. You have to keep investing more time and money while pushing and driving your costs to zero or you'll get snaked by just about anyone else who has the motivation to do so.

Re:Welcome to GPL/OSS (3, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120325)

So what does that mean to costs like .. umm .. I don't know ... "salary"???

Re:Welcome to GPL/OSS (3, Insightful)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121449)

So what does that mean to costs like .. umm .. I don't know ... "salary"???

that's the question. Those whose job was to re-invent the wheel, and re-write from scratch a new application to compete with a existing one, their pay should be driven to 0.
Those who's job is to use whats out their to be as productive as possible should be way more productive, thus more valuable, and thus their pay can be much higher, while still making their parent company more profitable.
So the computing, support, and customization jobs in general, pay should expand. The create stuff from scratch jobs should go away. Does that result in fewer jobs, probably not, but a slower growth of jobs.

Re:Welcome to GPL/OSS (0, Troll)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120409)

Isn't competition grand? ... or are you advocating that companies go to the tried and true model of releasing the same software every year with a new number after it... or do you like features?

Re:Welcome to GPL/OSS (4, Insightful)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120439)

The good news (for them) is that you provided them a getting-started point with all your work so they didn't have to put all that time (and money, since time is money) into getting it off the ground.

SUN didn't do any work creating MySQL. It purchased it. It was already open source and MySQL wouldn't be worth a dime without all the improvements made by the community. SUN knew what it was purchasing. Major companies want support from a company they trust. There is value in that. And SUN can always roll the communities code into its version. Without cost I might add. So what's the beef?

Re:Welcome to GPL/OSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120591)

What the fuck are you talking about? MySQL code was written almost exclusively by MySQL AB. (The only exception being InnoDB, which was just as bad -- or worse given that they're now a part of Oracle). The "community" used mysql, but didn't contribute code. I guess you've forgotten that MySQL AB wasn't entirely trusted since they had a private, non-GPL branch that they also sold, and required all copyrights be assigned to them. The new "community" creating MySQL enhacements is mostly disgruntled former MySQL AB employees.

Re:Welcome to GPL/OSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120815)

If all Sun wanted to do was run a support business for MySQL, why did they even worry about buying it? Why not just hang out a shingle and say, "I will install MySQL for you for $99.99"? Why bother trying to "own" the community instead of joining the community? Try to own, get powned.

Re:Welcome to GPL/OSS (3, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121125)

If all Sun wanted to do was run a support business for MySQL, why did they even worry about buying it? Why not just hang out a shingle and say, "I will install MySQL for you for $99.99"? Why bother trying to "own" the community instead of joining the community? Try to own, get powned.

Because those who control the budgets that make support contracts profitable want someone to "own" the problem. Now that MySQL AB is a subsidiary of Sun, Sun has a claim to MySQL that nobody else can have. Sure - there are plenty of other outfits out there that are entirely capable of supporting MySQL. But none of them ARE MySQL.

Re:Welcome to GPL/OSS (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120873)

"And SUN can always roll the communities code into its version. Without cost I might add. So what's the beef?"

Didn't they have some dual license play at some point that would have prevented this?

all the best,

drew

Re:Welcome to GPL/OSS (4, Informative)

schmiddy (599730) | more than 5 years ago | (#26122315)

And SUN can always roll the communities code into its version. Without cost I might add. So what's the beef?

Not quite. SUN *could* snap up patches from the community that are floating around under the GPL -- but then SUN wouldn't own copyrights to all the code in MySQL (the individual authors whose code they snapped up would retain copyright over the snippets they had written).

This is why SUN's Contributor Agreement [mysql.com] explicity states that the contributor must assign copyrights to SUN (you hereby assign to us joint ownership...). SUN wants to retain copyright (or at least joint licensing) to the entirety of the MySQL codebase so that they can sell closed source forks to companies wishing to release a product with MySQL embedded, without having to GPL their whole product, or any part thereof. IANAL.

Sequences? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120175)

All the other databases have them, but mysql only has auto-increment.

Makes it an extra layer of abstraction in code to support multiple databases.

Seems like such a simple feature.

MySQL. LOL. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120205)

I can't but laugh whenever I think of MySQL.

Re:MySQL. LOL. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120227)

I don't get the joke?

Re:MySQL. LOL. (1)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120353)

I don't get the joke?

Yes. You don't get the joke.

=Smidge=

Re:MySQL. LOL. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26121295)

I can't but laugh whenever I think of MySQL.

When I was fucking your girlfriend last night she said the same thing about your penis.

Huh? (5, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120209)

If it's all OSS, then why isn't MySQL picking up the best 3rd party pieces and rolling them back into the official distribution?

Because Sun want to do a KDE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120345)

They want to be able to own all code and many of these forks have only GPL2/3 licenses.

Sun could BUY a propriatory license from these people like KDE offer, but they apparently don't want to suffer under the closed source licensing headache (that's for their USERS to experience!).

Re:Because Sun want to do a KDE (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120455)

Yes. See my comment above.

Sun do not 'get' free or open. It's not"in their DNA." The best projects depend one way or another on their communities. Sun doesn't "do" community, they want to two-tier this. That's not a community. The tiering is sorted by a community, itself in community - not dictated to it by an artificial business plan. So Linux Kernel is an elitist meritocracy in it's upper-tier community. If that had been arranged to be only employees from HP or IBM?

Well, FreeBSD would have just become that much better.

Bull! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120659)

Sun is the worlds largest open source company both in terms of size and contribution.

MySQL
OpenOffice
Java
VirtualBOx
Open Solaris

are all wholly Sun projects but they also contribute to numerous other open source projects [sun.com] .

Sun may not be perfect but, there are none better at the moment.

Re:Bull! (1)

T-Ranger (10520) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121691)

I'd think that IBM would be the largest, if you are counting something as meaningless as LOC. Eclipse is huge, maybe at least as big as OpenOffice.

Sun is very anti-community. MySQL was arguably anti-community as well.

The JCP: Who, at the end of the day decides what happens? Sun employees.
OO.o: Who, at the end of the day decides what happens? Sun employees.
MySQL: Who, at the end of the day decides what happens? A year ago, MySQL employees, now Sun employees.

Compare that with:

Kernel: Who, at the end of the day decides what happens? Technical leadership; the community
Mozilla: Who, at the end of the day decides what happens? Mozilla employees, sure, but not Google or Netscape; an organization formed specifically for that codebase, arms length from anyone else
Eclipse: Who, at the end of the day decides what happens? I'm not as sure :), but an organization formed specifically for that codebase, arms length from anyone else

Sure, specific Sun employees may be empowered to contribute to external projects. And sure, they throw a metric crap-load of very useful code over the wall, but what they have regularly proven themselves really bad at is actually developing any kind of net new community.

Re:Bull! (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121881)

Java and "open source"?

Forced marriage.

Java - Sun's dear baby - was determinedly resistant, 'til just months ago.

Re:Because Sun want to do a KDE (2, Informative)

swillden (191260) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120763)

s/KDE/Qt/

KDE is purely Free Software and there is no proprietary version.

KDE is build on top of Qt, which is dual-licensed and available either via the GPL or via a commercial license. The code is identical, but the commercial license allows you to build non-GPL products with the tools, and provides some support.

Same difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26121129)

n/t

Re:Same difference (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121673)

Trolltech/Nokia would disagree COMPLETELY.

Re:Huh? (1)

fgaliegue (1137441) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120375)

Maybe it's a problem of knowing about/qualifying those "best 3rd party pieces" to start with.

MySQL didn't seem to have a problem with this before. Well, before Sun took over, that is.

Re:Huh? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120657)

Not Invented Here [wikipedia.org] .

It's not as trite as it sounds. Why would the best developers prioritise other peoples' patches over their own? And if you're not the best developer, what are you doing guarding the gates?

Re:Huh? (4, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120673)

If it's all OSS, then why isn't MySQL picking up the best 3rd party pieces and rolling them back into the official distribution?

Because they wouldn't be able to include those parts in the proprietary version?

Re:Huh? (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120877)

Because then they're responsible for that code. Drizzle is a great idea, but as soon as a company wants to use something beyond the basic features (which they almost always do), they're going to need something better. I hadn't heard of the other project, but my guess is that they aren't as stable as the regular MySQL server because they incorporate from many different areas.

Every line of code adds the possibility of a bug, and when you don't write that code yourself it's a lot easier to overlook something vital. I would bet that they're taking a look at the differences and seeing what they can add, but it's a slow process.

lack of understanding of the biz model (5, Informative)

davejenkins (99111) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120229)

The questions asked in the summary show a fundamental misunderstanding of successful business models in Open Source software: the idea that a fork from some 3rd party is "taking away" funds from the "parent" sponsoring company only goes to show that someone is trying to hold on to their licences/exclusivity/prom dress too much.

Sun should welcome such improvements into their dev cycle. If such forks are superior, then they should eventually find their way back into the parent model. The successful business models around OSS rely on the services/consulting/support that sit around and on top of the actual OSS code. Red Hat, IBM, HP, and others all understand this. Sun, unfortunately, still has the MySQL model wrong IMHO.

Re:lack of understanding of the biz model (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120349)

I hope it's not a trend, but this is one of MANY articles recently trying to discredit Open Source models as destructing to the corporate bottom line. It is in part destructive... to those companies that like to rest on their laurels and not improve, learn from and/or advance their software using the free code that was given to them.

Re:lack of understanding of the biz model (4, Interesting)

neomunk (913773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120631)

I think it's Taco's way of passive-aggressive intellectual baiting. He wants us to get pissed about the idea and shoot it down thoroughly.

At least that's what I -HOPE- is going on.

Re:lack of understanding of the biz model (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120701)

I think it says something that the most common defense of business models based on contributing heavily to open source is "it's only bad for a company if you don't work hard enough." That's a real way to win people and companies over to open source, especially since most software engineers don't work hard enough already at their jobs - not to mention the prospective joy of working with open source community members who have that kind of attitude.

Re:lack of understanding of the biz model (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120821)

I said nothing of the sort. The code is already there. It's not like you are working harder. People are GIVING you code. All you have to do is merge it with your trunk effectively and you have a better product. Companies that don't do this can/should give up the project to someone with the time to manage it. If you are losing money on it, that's bad business. Sell it off, give it away, or grin and bear it.

Re:lack of understanding of the biz model (1)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120419)

Again, its not just MySQL: OpenOffice vs. StarOffice, Solaris vs. OpenSolaris. I really hope they aren't shooting themselves in the foot, because the community projects are seldom as popular as the proprietary version, although it may be too soon to judge this for OpenSolaris yet it is steadily gaining more popularity at a higher rate than Solaris/SunOS did.

Re:lack of understanding of the Corporate Life (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120501)

If such forks are superior, then they should eventually find their way back into the parent model

Many corporate environments simply refuse to operate in this manner. It's like telling a room full of executives their bonuses aren't coming this year. The disbelief is palpable, the laws of gravity no longer apply.

Sun's old-school command-and-control corporate hegemony will not fall to some management model that can't be accounted for in whatever back-stabbing, powerpoint-presentation-driven, corporate culture exists there.

Re:lack of understanding of the Corporate Life (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120715)

There's no need to put the blame on the corporate body. Developers have mortgages too.

"So, Developer Danny, I notice that 8 out of your last 10 commits have had someone else's name on them. Can you explain to us what value you bring to SUN, and why we shouldn't just hire or reward the 3rd party contributors directly?"

Re:lack of understanding of the Corporate Life (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121031)

So, Developer Danny, I notice that 8 out of your last 10 commits have had someone else's name on them.

Proving my point nicely, thank you!

The corporate emphasis is the number of commits. Management is the one scoring productivity by commits. Which, starts the "not invented here" environment, which is why Sun is doing such a bad job maintaining MySQL.

Did Danny's commits make a better product? What about the time vetting outside contributions? What about the expertise developed working on code so long you can look at a contribution and see it's value? As Danny's manager, that should be enough to justify his employ. But it isn't.

The number of commits with Danny's name on it no matter the quality is how a good product goes horribly wrong in the typical corporate environment. The waning popularity of MySQL has begun.

Fund core development? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120245)

Why would they want to do that? Sun should focus on making MySQL run fast on its hardware, nothing more and nothing less.

Too late for a proprietary fork? (5, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120259)

"If so, could anyone blame MySQL/Sun for creating its own proprietary fork in order to afford further core development?"

Wait - what good would it do for MySQL/Sun to create it's own fork if, by the poster's own declaration, community supported forks are *already* better?

I think, maybe, part of the problem is companies (not just Sun/MySQL, but other companies I've seen this with too) not really treating open source projects *as* open source. They release the software under GPL, or whatever free license, but because they want to maintain 'copyright purity' (that is, the code they distribute is 100% owned by them, because that is the only thing that will allow them to potentially make the codebase proprietary for selling 'enhanced' versions; if they accepted other contributors' code under the GPL, they would then have to accept the code to be GPL forever, for all versions), so they won't/can't integrate other contributors' code into the main distribution (unless they can work out some seperate licensing agreement with the third-party developer).

Whenever you have a situation like that, as a company, you are giving other developers the benefit of Free Software while *denying* it from your own customers (well, sorta, until they stop being your customers and start using the other forks), and yourselves.

I don't know what the 'best' business model is for open source companies, but if you really want to leverage open source/free software, you have to give up on directly charging for 'enhanced' versions of the software, because the only way to play that game is to force this situation where you cannot benefit from the enhancements of the community. If you are successful, like MySQL, then eventually the community grows to the point where the community's developer resources are greater than your own as the company, and you find yourself in a situation where you can't really keep up with the community.

Re:Too late for a proprietary fork? (0, Flamebait)

Rahga (13479) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120315)

Obviously, the best model is to stay away from GPL.

Re:Too late for a proprietary fork? (0, Flamebait)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120405)

Yes, obviously, because it never does anyone any good, ever. Just look at Microsoft, they're getting better all the time, and it's all thanks to their proprietary licensing.

Re:Too late for a proprietary fork? (2, Insightful)

Rahga (13479) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120707)

I've done my share of programming under the GPL... and I've never liked it. I never implied that proprietary was better, rather I prefer software that is free in every way. If you have a BSD-licensed app and you want to use an awesome code snippet from a GPL piece of software, you can't. (At least, not without going back to the contributor and working out some sort of deal.)

Re:Too late for a proprietary fork? (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120875)

I can see the pain in that, it's just frustrating to see this big division, even more so participating. I prefer the GPL because it emphasizes on protecting the user (by protecting the software), while BSD emphasizes protecting the developer.

Re:Too late for a proprietary fork? (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121197)

Why bother with BSD then? Stick to the public domain.

Re:Too late for a proprietary fork? (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26122307)

The quality of a piece of software has no bearing on the license it's released under. There are enough quality BSD/MIT bits out there (and enough crappy GPL ones) to dispel that myth.

And I'm not sure what you're specifically referring to, but Microsoft has enough quality software (.NET/Visual Studio/BizTalk/Server 2003|2008/SharePoint/Office/etc/etc/etc) to also void your point. And last time I looked they were still shoveling money. Unlike, say, Sun, which is down to $3 or whatever and had to lay off thousands. Getting delisted from NASDAQ is a real possibility for them at this point.

Re:Too late for a proprietary fork? (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121319)

"if they accepted other contributors' code under the GPL, they would then have to accept the code to be GPL forever, for all versions), so they won't/can't integrate other contributors' code into the main distribution (unless they can work out some seperate licensing agreement with the third-party developer)."

You know, I think a big player might get away with something like this:

Outside developers send in code under the gpl plus with a license that allows locked up non-gpl licensing so long as the company or related entities only ever have one code base that is under the gpl and locked up. (This may be unclear... what I am getting at is it is not cool for the gpl code to be "lesser" or "different" to the other code. It is the same code available under two different licenses.)

So, if a big player would commit to that, I think they may see a willingness for outside developers to give them contributions. Possibly even better if they could set aside some portion of the profits to send back to their outside contributors somehow.

As a little guy, I want the big guys to make it. At the same time, I want assurances of some kind that I will always get the code in a Free form.

all the best,

drew

Let's Free VirtualBox Too! (1)

Maljin Jolt (746064) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120261)

I hail the MySQL community for a good job.

Now it is time to fork VirtualBox into community driven project. It is getting more and more crippled Since Sun eated the Innotek.

Re:Let's Free VirtualBox Too! (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120907)

IMO good things have happened to VirtualBox since Sun bought it... I agree that Sun keeping a proprietary version is suboptimal, but nevertheless Sun have done many great things...
- And I'd hate to see them go away...

Article Summary vs Article (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120289)

The summary, also posted on Matt Asay's CNET blog, has little to nothing to do with either Zawodny's blog post nor reality. Return on investment? Sun wanted eyeballs, some strange sort of open source marketshare, and various other bits of MySQL AB. They got it. I don't think anybody ever thought it was about turning MySQL into a profit center. Eke out a return? That has nothing to do with what Sun is all about, in much the same way as Novell isn't trying to get rich by selling disks of SUSE.

You need to execute well. (3, Interesting)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120295)

MySQL seems to be a project with alot of mindshare that doesn't execute well.

With commercial software, you're screwed when the vendor decides to do stupid things. With OSS, you have options besides moving to a new platform or living with the vendor's stupid decisions.

At the end of the day, this is good for everyone, and is an example of why OSS is good for society.

Bring improvements back in (5, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120299)

One of the keys to a successful open-source project is to take the improvements being made in forks and bring them back into the main project. One of the reasons forks are created is that users have a need that's not being met by the project. If you bring their solutions back into the mainline project, the fork will tend to die because it's no longer needed.

This is, BTW, one of the reasons to use a GPL-like license. If you do, you're guaranteed that you can bring improvements from forks back into your mainline codebase. If you go with a license that allows you to create a fork with things that aren't available to others, it simultaneously allows others to create forks that aren't available to you. Then you end up in Sun's situation with no way to resolve it except by creating the same improvements yourself. And there's more of your competitors than there are of you, which means they will win this particular race to create improvements. If you go with a license that forces improvements to be available to you but not anybody else, many people who might have created an improvement you could use will simply not contribute to your project. It's a perception issue: GPL-like terms lead contributors to think in terms of their contributions helping everybody and you just happen to be one of that "everybody", while "owner gets everything, everybody else gets what the owner gives them" terms tend to lead contributors to think you want them to work solely for your benefit without you giving them anything in return. That turns a lot of people off.

Re:Bring improvements back in (2, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121573)

Using Linux as an example, most of the "mega patchsets" could be considered forks from the vanilla kernel but end up testing the component patches extensively, allowing for a better choice of what goes mainstream. In other words, the "forks" have accelerated Linux kernel development. The distro-specific patches - well, not too sure about those, but more than a few have also made it mainstream - again likely for the same reason. Better testing by more people. (This is not to fault the Linux development model, quite the opposite. It's praise for the number of imaginative ways that patches have been brought to people's attention and praise for the handling of the logistics of so many patchsets - pseudo-forks, I guess you could call them - that the Linux kernel developers manage superbly. Sun would be wise to look to these people for inspiration on how to combine the best from the forks and how to know what the best even is.)

mistake? (1)

koutbo6 (1134545) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120301)

sun might have made a mistake by purchasing mysql, couldn't they have benefited from it without paying $1B?

Re:mistake? (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120623)

couldn't they have benefited from it without paying $1B?

That magic number they use in the press release to acertain a sale value for MySQL is dreamed up.

The typical NYSE/whatever corporate method to "buy" some property is to offer a teeny-tiny bit of cash for signing the deal. The rest of the deal is sometimes paid in the future based on "performance." "Performance" is a magic number that the new overlords destroy in order to pay the lowest possible price while employing the owner in some well-appointed office no one visits while his control over the project evaporates into the corporate machine.

In the end, the owner gets some cash up front, a decent salary for a year or two before quitting out of frustration. Then the corporate overlords "run out of money" to pay their obligations to the former owner. Since the former owner isn't well capitalized, the corporate overlord can litigate the former owner into bankruptcy.

Today's lesson: Make money. Get paid today.

Pfffffft. (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120347)

I don't really believe software that's 'good enough' doesn't need support at all, but I do think it's realistic to assume that the better software gets the less people will be asking for help.

You can always make improvements, but you can only squeeze so much blood out of a stone. Should a single project really need to always and forever need more and more money spent on development? Architecture will keep changing, standards will improve (hopefully), but eventually any real improvements will be more for novelty than real functionality.

MySQL should be more than happy that it can still offer the support services it can.

Bad article. (5, Informative)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120363)

Lots of wrong things in this article.

OurDelta isn't a fork of MySQL. It's builds for the regular MySQL with optionally some third party patches.

Drizzle isn't a fork of MySQL. It's a complete restart and reengeneering of the database core of MySQL and will likely become a base for the future releases of Sun's MySQL and other database products. Drizzle is to MySQL like MinWin is to Windows, though maybe bad analogy, MinWin is just as porly understood by most people.

Sun doesn't have a propriatary fork of MySQL. Former MySQL AB wanted to put some proprietary services and applications on top of the existing open-source product, but the community reacted and since Sun never approved of this direction, those plans were immediately dropped.

Re:Bad article (3, Informative)

krow (129804) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121151)

Hi!

We typically call Drizzle [launchpad.net] a fork, since we do have a common ancestor at this point (though it is doubtful you could apply a patch between the two). We are pretty up front about this though. Drizzle is supported by Sun which the article does not mention, though we are different in that we have patches that have to date come in from 30+ companies.

OurSQL is more of a distribution then anything else. Their tree is a collection of patches they apply at each release.

Cheers,
      -Brian

In a word, 'yes' (4, Interesting)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120381)

Sun/MySQL can and should be blamed if they are failing the community that made MySQL so popular and strong.

Sun has a bad reputation for having very closed open source projects such as OpenOffice. The project is managed much more like a proprietary venture than an open source project and community input is minimized or ignored altogether.

I can't feel sorry for Sun when they drop buku bucks on MySQL and then complain that others are taking their revenue away from them doing what the OSS community does best - improve the software on their own.

Re:In a word, 'yes' (2, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120795)

Sun/MySQL can and should be blamed if they are failing the community that made MySQL so popular and strong.

Up front: I think MySQL sucks. Having said that, how dare you blame them for "failing" in any way, having given the community the product in the first place? They released it as Free Software from the beginning. Anything they do after that is just icing on the cake. You can wish that they did things differently, but they don't owe jack to "the community" other than obeying the license on any code that comes back their way.

Well, other than quit lying by saying that you have to buy a commercial license if you want to use MySQL with commercial software. That's irksome and I think they should stop doing that. But besides that, it's their ball and their game.

Re:In a word, 'yes' (3, Insightful)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120861)

I referred to MySQL as Sun/MySQL because the company by the same name as the project is now owned by Sun. As such, I'm really accusing Sun of failing the community.

It's näive to think that Sun would have purchased MySQL if it weren't for its community base of users and developers and indeed, MySQL would not have been much of anything without said same user and developer base. So to suggest that "the community" is owed nothing for their efforts (developing, testing, debugging, suggesting improvements, etc) is also näive.

MySQL is as popular as it is because of its environment as well as its code base. If you take away either component it will fail, and Sun doesn't seem to get that by taking away the community participation it's killing the project/product it just bought.

Re:In a word, 'yes' (2, Interesting)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121255)

So to suggest that "the community" is owed nothing for their efforts (developing, testing, debugging, suggesting improvements, etc) is also näive.

I'm not sure how the community is owed anything. They have what they are guaranteed: code and a license that allows them to take it (almost) wherever they want. Seems like payment in full to me. The accounts are balanced and everyone can split right now - although it would probably be mutually beneficial if everyone continued to play nice (especially Sun).

Re:In a word, 'yes' (1)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121613)

Correct. I meant to suggest that by forking the project Sun would be doing a disservice to themselves and to the community, but the community would likely continue on their own version and Sun would have simply wasted their time and money.

I did not mean that the community deserves more than they're getting right now, merely that they are "owed" what they have and to try to deny that would be biting the hand that feeds.

For many, it will be a problem (3, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120555)

People need incentives to buy products, and open source software doesn't give people that incentive outside of the enterprise realm where paid support is a big money maker. Let's get closer to regular users here. What incentive do home users have to buy StarOffice when OpenOffice is more than good enough? How about pay anything for WordPress when it's free and easily installed by CPanel? I can't see any, aside from altruism, and only economically-clueless nerds tend to put much stock in altruism as a source of revenue (this also explains why so many think that bands will still sell large amounts of recorded music, even though most of it can be downloaded for free on a P2P network).

In the case of MySQL, a big part of their problem is that Sun isn't dumping a lot of R&D money into them to make MySQL 6 really competitive on an enterprise level with PostgreSQL. A pure open source approach isn't going to allow Sun to make good money on their R&D investment, but if they were to dramatically improve MySQL and provide high quality tools at reasonable prices, that sort of hybrid approach would work. Companies that want to make their core software open source are going to have to make compelling products that interact with them if they want to be able to sell more than consulting and support services.

Open source advocates need to be realistic. If you do work outside of the enterprise realm, chances are you will end up doing it for free and never seeing a dime from it unless your users are feeling overly generous. That's just because most users outside of the enterprise realm have no incentive to buy anything you might be selling related to your open source product.

Re:For many, it will be a problem (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121529)

People need incentives to buy products, and open source software doesn't give people that incentive outside of the enterprise realm where paid support is a big money maker. Let's get closer to regular users here. What incentive do home users have to buy StarOffice when OpenOffice is more than good enough?

I never thought of StarOffice being directed towards the "regular user" market. It seems to be very much an enterprise application. Having said that, there is very attractive licensing for individuals. I couldn't say whether it is all that attractive over Openoffice.org. But then, I've never ever paid for an office suite out of my own pocket.

How about pay anything for WordPress when it's free and easily installed by CPanel?

Normal users use CPanel? Once again, we're in to a completely different category of users. Most "normal users" are going to go for the hosted option. Anyone hosting their own instance of Wordpress are going to be more advanced or hiring someone to do it for them. And it doesn't seem that Wordpress cares (their business model seems to be hosting, not licensing).

A pure open source approach isn't going to allow Sun to make good money on their R&D investment, but if they were to dramatically improve MySQL and provide high quality tools at reasonable prices, that sort of hybrid approach would work. Companies that want to make their core software open source are going to have to make compelling products that interact with them if they want to be able to sell more than consulting and support services.

Sun makes its money from the enterprise. Why do they need this hybrid business model?

Yes (3, Insightful)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120721)

I've been in contact with a dozen companies that all use the community version of MySQL. Without paying any support because none is needed when you have a semi-competent DBA around. If MySQL wasn't there, then it would have been PostgreSQL instead. If there was no MySQL, PostgreSQL nor any other high quality free RDBMS, they would have to use a commercial system instead. There are thousands of companies out there in the same situation and I don't think that MySQL has gained as much money as the commercial vendors has lost thanks to MySQL:s freeness.

Who even pays for MySQL (2, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 5 years ago | (#26122035)

Seriously. What is the business case where one may justify using MySQL and paying for it?

Whenever the issue of MySQL vs other RDBMS is raised on Slashdot, its niche is typically defined as cheap hosting and other low-budget solutions where reliability and data consistency are simply not as important. Nothing wrong with that, but isn't it precisely the segment that's not going to pay so long as they can get the same for free? Support - I doubt many people actually care much about that, especially for MySQL. And any Web solution, no matter how big, doesn't have to care about the license of the DB backend.

This leaves commercial apps who don't like GPL - but they can avoid it much easier by using one of the many viable alternatives, from SQlite or Firebird on the embedded side, to Postgres and again Firebird on the full-fledged database side; and for $$$, if one is willing to spare some, why not just pay a little bit more to get Oracle or even MSSQL?

So it seems to me that the target audience to which MySQL caters is precisely the one that's less likely to pay for any "enterprisey" features, and stick to the base F/OSS version, with "good enough" community patches. Or am I missing something?

Re:Yes (2, Interesting)

raddan (519638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26122157)

If Sun were smart, they would take advantage of the many places where the use of MySQL could be enhanced by Sun's other products, e.g., Solaris/OpenSolaris or ZFS, and use MySQL as a carrot to lure people into the Sun ecosystem. Once that happens, it is much easier to get someone to consider buying a support contract. This is essentially how CentOS worked for us wrt RHEL.

Your point is a good one because we do have competent DBAs here, and Sun's addons don't add much value for us. But entire systems are complex enough that we might consider a Sun support contract for HA machines that ran MySQL.

Sun or Shine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120755)

My SQL is an excellent example blog application or glorified todo list engine. Call me when it actually gets serious about being a real database, or better yet dies a firey death. There are so many great alternatives, I wish the hosting providers would STFU and stop pretending MySQL is actually a database.

Bundle it with products !! (2, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120777)

thats what ibm and others are doing, and its working well. sell your customers COMPLETE solutions. do not put stuff out separately.

think it like this - imagine you are going to offer a webserver solution. hey, the database server development is already handled by the open source community, cutting many of your development, bugfix, testing costs.

AND you will sell support. no, really. no business can go to an open source forum, post their problem and wait for a useful answer in a busy workday. they will want to have someone to call and get support fast. AND that will be the company who sold the solution to them. charge reasonably for support.

do NOT try to go into the ancient 'hey we did something, we are gonna sell it and make money'. in our days and times, support, service are constant revenue streams. whilst you buy a server every few years. which you would want to bank on ?

crossover/wine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26120935)

Perhaps Sun could get by having the same kind of relationship Crossover has with Wine. Core development can go into the proprietary fork, but all that eventually trickles down into the free, open-source version

MySQL has the mindshare (4, Insightful)

fruey (563914) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120995)

Much of the article & threads here seem to be supposition, and niche arguments. MySQL has the mindshare because, back when RedHat was all the rage on production servers, MySQL + Apache was just an RPM away, and LAMP started to really kick in (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP). PHP has big mindshare too, and the MySQL functions *are* the DB functions for a lot of coders out there.

So even if you fork, add third party patches, or whatever... the fact is that the basic MySQL dominates the low to mid range server DB market in Open Source, and that's that. Of course there are better alternatives available, but hiring staff that know those alternatives isn't as easy.

So I reckon Sun won't be affected too much, their product does what most people need already. Those who need something else can pay Oracle, MS or work with PostgreSQL, which kinda got to the party late. Yes, it is more powerful. But it's LAMP and not LAPP, and the tutorials for PHP/MySQL outnumber PHP/Postgres by a large factor.

Re:MySQL has the mindshare (2, Insightful)

dedazo (737510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26122169)

the fact is that the basic MySQL dominates the low to mid range server DB market in Open Source

A market which has little to no profit attached to it, and is dominated mostly by way of inertia.

If there was a profit to turn there (other than mindshare), MySQL wouldn't have been so intent to compete in the enterprise space along with Oracle, Sybase, MSSQL and DB2/x86. They'd be happy with the enormous profits they get from hosting providers and the like.

Its a well established fact ... (1, Informative)

slashdotlurker (1113853) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121141)

... that successful open source companies direct their efforts primarily at support, not software as such. If Sun is ignoring this, its doing it to its own detriment.

Re:Its a well established fact ... (1)

theredshoes (1308621) | more than 5 years ago | (#26122017)

It sounds like Drizzle is a complete overhaul of MySQL, cleaning up the bad and enhancing the good. I guess if Sun doesn't keep up, then Sun doesn't have a competitive advantage anymore, thereby forcing businesses to go elsewhere.

Re:more of a sign they need to improve their proce (1)

clint999 (1277046) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121453)

IMO good things have happened to VirtualBox since Sun bought it... I agree that Sun keeping a proprietary version is suboptimal, but nevertheless Sun have done many great things... - And I'd hate to see them go away...

a better solution (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121555)

A better solution is for Sun to repackage the improved MySQL bits from Drizzle, OurDelta, Perconaand and charge for support and upgrades ..

Wrong question (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#26121571)

> ...discovers that through third-party forks and enhancements like Drizzle and OurDelta 'you can get a "better" MySQL than the one Sun/MySQL gives you today. For free.'

Is anyone at all surprised? Remember Sparcworks, the official, surprisingly expensive compiler for Solaris with really annoying license requirements that your management made you buy, that immediately became shelfware in favor of the free and far superior GCC if you hoped to do anything approaching ANSI C development? As soon as I had heard that Sun had purchased MySQL, I thought "Ah, the expense of Oracle without the innovation".

I consider the code base for "Enterprise" MySQL to be dead. It's not that community development is preventing Sun from doing core development. Community development is filling the void caused by the lack of core development.

Parenthetically, is anyone counting the number of /. articles lately that are whining about free development undercutting for-profit development? Maybe we need a new tag -- something like "mommyhesnotchargingenough".

Money on Open Source is in the Support (1)

olddotter (638430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26122283)

Fortune 500 (and smaller) companies are going to want support. Support is a stream of revenue, paid every year. For traditional software supports is normally 25% of sales cost per year. For Free software it appears to be 20% of the cost of comparable commercial product per year.

Also big companies don't want bleeding edge software, so the latest that the community has put out is not as interesting to them. The problem is that Sun paid a lot for MySQL. Of course I think they did that for defense against Oracle.

Oracle is pushing people to Linux, they want all of the revenue slow for the database servers, so if they can cut Sun out on the OS, then Oracle can support both the Linux OS and the Oracle DB.

Similar thing with Ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26122349)

I have been saying this for years. In the opensource business being a late entrant is not a bad thing. Ubuntu picked up the contributions from Redhat and Novell (suse) to the linux ecosystem and is now a really popular distribution. I would say it will apply to any other project. Once its become a commodity its there for anyone to pick up and distribute. What sun needs is an ecosystem, which we all know it cannot do. See java for example. IBM makes more money off of java than sun does.

This is the argument I have all the time..... (2, Interesting)

weiserfireman (917228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26122505)

First thing,

I am a hardware guy by inclination and training. I had some programming experience, but never enjoyed it.

I also tend to look more at the business side of things sometimes. I am the Chairman of my Company's ESOP committee. We are 100% employee owned. We are not an IT company. I am the only IT person.

I have always had a hard time believing in the business model of the Open Source community. As an IT person and a software customer, I can appreciate the ability to view and modify the source of software that isn't doing everything I want it to do, but as a business person, I have a hard time picturing a long term model where open source is a product I can make money off of.

In the short term, customers would purchase the software and support from me, but as the community grew around the software, it would fork in new unsupported directions, the community and customers would become more savy and need less support from me.

Long term, I think open source will work real well for drivers, routers, switches items that the hardware is secondary to the appliance.

But for standalone software products like Databases? I just can't see it, no matter how many Open Source advocates try to convince me of it.
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