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Sun Announces New MySQL, Michael Widenius Forks

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the this-cracks-me-up dept.

Sun Microsystems 306

viktor.91 writes "Sun Microsystems announced three new MySQL products: MySQL 5.4, MySQL Cluster 7.0 and MySQL Enterprise Partner Program for 'Remote DBA' service providers." which showed up in the firehose today next to Glyn Moody's submission where he writes "Michael Widenius, founder and original developer of MySQL, says that most of the leading coders for that project have either left Sun or will be leaving in the wake of Oracle's takeover. To ensure MySQL's survival, he wants to fork from the official version — using his company Monty Program Ab to create what he calls a MySQL "Fedora" project. This raises the larger question of who really owns a commercial open software application: the corporate copyright holders, or the community?"

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It depends (4, Insightful)

raffe (28595) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686347)

It depends on the license of the software. Always.

Re:It depends (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686407)

Linux just isn't ready for the desktop yet. It may be ready for the web servers that you nerds use to distribute your TRON fanzines and personal Dungeons and Dragons web-sights across the world wide web, but the average computer user isn't going to spend months learning how to use a CLI and then hours compiling packages so that they can get a workable graphic interface to check their mail with, especially not when they already have a Windows machine that does its job perfectly well and is backed by a major corporation, as opposed to Linux which is only supported by a few unemployed nerds living in their mother's basement somewhere. The last thing I want is a level 5 dwarf (haha) providing me my OS.

Who OWNS the seas and oceans? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686559)

Who owns the forests and the birds, the Soamlian coast?

Pirates! I! Matie!!

Re:It depends (1)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686409)

Well, with FOSS it doesn't. It depends on whether the maintainers require copyright assignment.

In any case, the authors own the code (unless they reassign the copyright) and everyone else can do whatever they want with it provided they comply with the license.

The question in the summary is a bit stupid IMHO.

Re:It depends (5, Insightful)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686643)

Well, even if the maintainers have the copyrights, that only means future versions can be closed source. They can't terminate the already-outstanding licenses without a breach of terms. They also own the trademarks to the MySQL also.

IMO, Sun lost the hearts and minds of the developers which is where the real value was. The trademarks and copyrights are worthless if the community views MySQL's direction is wrong and moves entirely to a fork.

Re:It depends (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686853)

They can't terminate the already-outstanding licenses without a breach of terms.

On the flip side, the forking company can't use the same business model as MySQL AB. Since MySQL owned the copyrights, they could see non-GPLed versions of the software under terms that were more palatable to corporations. To a certain degree, it served their purposes to fuel GPL fears.

Now that the forking company is 100% bound by the GPL, they must attempt to undo any misplaced fears about the GPL and seek to convince companies that what they really want is a support licene, additional tools, or trained consultants.

Re:It depends (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687031)

Most companies don't need a more "palatable" license for an RDBMS. They typically
use it as a product, not something to build a product from. This is the key area
where the GPL can be a problem for a corporate entity. Most of Oracle's database
(or apps) customers don't have any reason to be concerned about their RDBMS having
a copyleft license.

They want assurance that their data will be protected and their operations won't suffer outtages.

Re:It depends (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687415)

What do you think most companies do with an RDBMS if they are not building software on top of it? Most either build in-house software on top of it, or license third-party software to run on top of it. In both of these situations the license is important. There's a reason MySQL AB made so much money selling licenses that let people avoid the GPL.

Re:It depends (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687429)

Sounds like you haven't been following MySQL AB very closely. Their interpretation of the license was that any time you paired a MySQL database with an application, you needed a MySQL commercial license. Only if the application supported but was independent of MySQL would you not need to follow the terms of the license.

MySQL even tried to reinforce the idea by purchasing all the third party drivers and changing the licenses to GPL instead of LGPL or otherwise.

While MySQL's licensing info has changed over the years (interestingly not archived by the WayBack Machine...) even their current page on licensing [mysql.com] is designed to steer users toward purchasing a commercial license:

Q3: As a commercial OEM, ISV or VAR, when should I purchase a commercial license for MySQL software?

A: OEMs, ISVs and VARs that want the benefits of embedding commercial binaries of MySQL software in their commercial applications but do not want to be subject to the GPL and do not want to release the source code for their proprietary applications should purchase a commercial license from Sun. Purchasing a commercial license means that the GPL does not apply, and a commercial license includes the assurances that distributors typically find in commercial distribution agreements.

For quite a few legal departments I've worked with, "the GPL does not apply" is magic words to their ears. They will instruct the business to grab the commercial license to get around the restrictions. In addition, there is the MySQL libraries issue I referred to above:

Q4: What is Sun's dual license model for MySQL software?

A: Sun makes its MySQL database server and MySQL Client Libraries available under both the GPL and a commercial license. As a result, developers who use or distribute open source applications under the GPL can use the GPL-licensed MySQL software, and OEMs, ISVs and VARs that do not want to combine or distribute the MySQL software with their own commercial software under a GPL license can purchase a commercial license.

The MySQL forking company is going to have to undo all of the anti-GPL ideas they've been riding, and convince companies that they don't need a commercial license. (Since it's not in the forking company's power to provide one.)

Re:It depends (4, Insightful)

paulthomas (685756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687053)

Agreed. See x.org for how quickly a community can switch to a fork.

Re:It depends (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686739)

In the case of a corporate OSS project, no, it doesn't. The developers don't own copyright, if the work in question was a work for hire.

In the case of a work work hire, the company owns the copyrights, if MySQL AB sold the copyrights to Sun, and there's no reason to think they didn't, Sun owns the copyrights. Oracle bought Sun and all of it's assests, ergo, the copyrights, and thus the code, belong to Oracle.

GPL is a copyright license, governed by copyright law. The owner of the copyrights, also owns the right to relicense, and litigate against anyone they deem is violating their copyright, and, in theory, that includes forks, which are derivative works. The copyright holder, also, in theory, reserves the right to revoke any licenses that were given out.

Individual, "community" developers are treated as freelancers and retain copyright (unless they've reassigned it) on their contributions, but any work done by MySQL AB, most likely now belongs to Oracle (unless they donated the copyrights to the FSF, which is how it's "supposed" to be done).

People erroneously like to think that OSS somehow is immune to normal copyright law. It isn't. Normal rules still apply.

The question in the summary is indeed stupid, though.

Re:It depends (2, Informative)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687151)

I don't think anyone questions that MySQL AB sold the copyrights to Sun, or that they can't again be transferred to Oracle.

The copyright holder, also, in theory, reserves the right to revoke any licenses that were given out.
 
 

No, not in theory. Have you actually read the GPL? In GPLv3, read sections 8 and 10. In GPLv2, read section 4.

You obviously aren't aware of OSS projects where community contributions are only accepted with copyright assignment to the software maintainer.

You're correct that Sun, or Oracle(if they buy Sun) could litigate breach of license terms in MySQL, but so could any copyright holders that contribute to MySQL forks.

Did I get trolled?

Re:It depends (2, Informative)

TheLinuxSRC (683475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687335)

The copyright holder, also, in theory, reserves the right to revoke any licenses that were given out.

I am going to have to see a citation for that. Unless that is written into the original license, that is completely wrong. In the case of the GPL, that is most certainly *not* the case. I am calling FUD.

Re:It depends (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686803)

The question in the summary is a bit stupid IMHO.

You must be new here.

Re:It depends (5, Funny)

0xB00F (655017) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686735)

It depends on the license of the software. Always.

It also depends on where you live. In Soviet Russia, software owns you.

Right (0, Flamebait)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686363)

Did anyone else notice that his little toy database is practically useless without InnoDB, which was written by a third party and is owned by Oracle?

What's he going to do, make another toy and cross his fingers that someone will come along a second time and redeem his craptastic creation?

What a joke...

Re:Right (2, Insightful)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686395)

Why would the fork have to stop supporting InnoDB?

Re:Right (4, Informative)

yakatz (1176317) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686437)

Did anyone else notice that his little toy database is practically useless without InnoDB, which was written by a third party and is owned by Oracle?

If you mean for transactions.
If you want a really fast free database that supports fulltext indexing, and you don't need transactions, MyISAM in the engine to use.

Re:Right (1)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686505)

It's not necessarily true that MyISAM is faster actually.

http://www.mysqlperformanceblog.com/2007/01/08/innodb-vs-myisam-vs-falcon-benchmarks-part-1/ [mysqlperformanceblog.com]

Re:Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27687501)

I think the point was that it support FullText.
Try that with InnoDB.

Re:Right (3)

Haiyadragon (770036) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686549)

Yeah, you're right. Foreign keys, who needs 'em?

Seriously though, this could be good news for PostgreSQL. Fingers Crossed.

Re:Right (4, Interesting)

rvw (755107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686973)

Seriously though, this could be good news for PostgreSQL. Fingers Crossed.

AFAIK more and more people are using PostgreSQL. More and more providers are supporting it. Five years from now, it could be a whole different landscape...

Re:Right (5, Funny)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687239)

Yeah, you're right. Foreign keys, who needs 'em

They should even get rid of SQL support altogether and just call it My. Who needs all that complicated elitist crap anyway?

Re:Right (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27687273)

Yeah right, if postgres was popular you'd be pimping mysql, just to be a trouble maker. In any case postgres is dangerously small and uns

Re:Right (2, Insightful)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687447)

Yeah right, if postgres was popular you'd be pimping mysql, just to be a trouble maker. In any case postgres is dangerously small and uns

Awww.. Look he tried to make a funny. See.. he was going to write unstable, but he stopped in the middle because his postgresql backed keyboard locked up.

What a darling to try and be clever.

People like Postgresql not because it's not popular like mysql. People like it because it's not crippled like mysql.

My experience, in general, has been that people moving from big commercial databases like postgresql. Those that that are new to rdbms's like mysql.

Re:Right (3, Informative)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686561)

Or you can use SQLite, get more speed, and still have transactions. (Although fulltext indexing does require a loadable extension.)

Re:Right (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686855)

As long as you don't need concurrent users. As soon as someone tries to update anything in the database, SQLite will lock the entire database until that update is completed.

I always consider SQLite to be a replacement for ad-hoc file formats, client-side storage, or anywhere else where you've got some data and something like SQL would be handy to manipulate it. Not so great as a replacement for database servers, unless everything's read-only.

Re:Right (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687129)

SQlite has supported per-table locking for a while, and I believe it supports per-row locking in some situations. It is not designed for concurrent writes, but it can be great for anything read-heavy workloads. It's certainly not suited for situations where you have a lot of concurrent writes, but for a CMS it can be a very good fit.

If you want full-text indexing, transactions, and lots of concurrent users, PostgreSQL is generally a better bet. MySQL is being squeezed at the bottom by SQLite and at the top by PostgreSQL, and both have less restrictive licenses (public domain and BSD, respectively). I'm amazed that it's survived this long.

Re:Right (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687001)

Or you can embed a Firebird engine and have a really well thought out transaction model...

Re:Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27687365)

Did anyone else notice that his little toy database is practically useless without InnoDB, which was written by a third party and is owned by Oracle?

If you mean for transactions.
 

How about data integrity? Is that desirably in a database?

Re:Right (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687451)

Depends on the application. It's always desirable, but it may not be the most important feature. If something like Wikipedia, for example, loses a day's worth of edits, do you think many people would notice or care?

Who Owns Open Source Applications? (3, Insightful)

Rary (566291) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686389)

This raises the larger question of who really owns a commercial open software application: the corporate copyright holders, or the community?

No one. Or, perhaps, everyone. That's kind of the point, isn't it? It isn't locked into anyone's individual grip.

Re:Who Owns Open Source Applications? (1)

disi (1465053) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686465)

Agree, this reminds me of XFree86 :) Maybe the forked project will become a successor like Xorg?

Cases Like OpenOffice.org (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686475)

This raises the larger question of who really owns a commercial open software application: the corporate copyright holders, or the community?

No one. Or, perhaps, everyone. That's kind of the point, isn't it? It isn't locked into anyone's individual grip.

"Open source" is just too broad a term to address this way. You would have to look at individual licenses. On top of that, you have things like Open Office, which is "open source" but clearly controlled by Sun (or Oracle now I guess) [slashdot.org] .

While you claim you can always fork an open source project, it's not always that simple. Especially in massive open source efforts (like Linux) where they have contacts and knowledge that are vital to the project. It isn't possession or control or fiscal ownership but instead a name you've made for yourself as the Father of some project that gives you "ownership" or "rights." And usually the market share of your user base reflects that.

You'd be surprised how many of your open source solutions are actually controlled and operated by a single entity. And this is great for those products because the entity is usually donating a lot of time and money to it. Should the entity ever drop out, that's when someone can pick up the cross and take it a new direction with everyone helping.

Re:Who Owns Open Source Applications? (2, Insightful)

anss123 (985305) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686943)

No one. Or, perhaps, everyone. That's kind of the point, isn't it? It isn't locked into anyone's individual grip.

In case of mysql I think they made a living on selling versions without the gpl license. That business model will not work for a gpl fork.

Re:Who Owns Open Source Applications? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27687077)

Sun owns MySQL, they can do whatever they like with its source code, because MySQL the company requested copyright to be assigned to them to all contributors, now Oracle can even use that code inside their proprietary databases and even create a "MySQL mode" for Oracle DB like FreeBSD have a linux mode for its kernel, but using the real MySQL sources to implement it.

What can Monty Program Ab? do improve (deteriorate is an option too) the code, distribute it following the GPL, but creating a dual licenced version like they did previously, I do not think so, unless they request copyright again to all the people that worked building MySQL other than the developers at Monty Program Ab

I Forked a Couple Nights Ago (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686413)

I forked a couple nights ago. I'm not trying to brag - I'm just a geek that's happy to be forking.

My girlfriend even looks good and is skinny!!

All I did was move to the (somewhat - I don't want to live on the drunks' 2am driving route) cool part of town, and go out as often as possible.

Geek in the pink ftw.

Re:I Forked a Couple Nights Ago (4, Funny)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687419)

The problem with forking is all the child processes, though.

It's GPL. (4, Funny)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686421)

This raises the larger question of who really owns a commercial open software application: the corporate copyright holders, or the community?"

So the answer is yes.

Should Read: Sun announces last MySQL products (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686445)

Oracle will surely kill (or at least castrate) MySQL.

We can only hope they do Java too ;-)

Re:Should Read: Sun announces last MySQL products (3, Insightful)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686539)

I have to disagree, I think that would be immensely stupid of them. I think they'll just use it to try to funnel users butting up against its limits towards full Oracle. If they kill it they lose that potential sales channel.

Re:Should Read: Sun announces last MySQL products (1)

RogerWilco (99615) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686761)

I have to disagree, I think that would be immensely stupid of them. I think they'll just use it to try to funnel users butting up against its limits towards full Oracle. If they kill it they lose that potential sales channel.

But that would give them an incentive to stop improving MySQL, as closing the gap with Oracle would make no business sense.

Re:Should Read: Sun announces last MySQL products (3, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687045)

Who said anything about closing the gap? Continuing to develop and support MySQL doesn't mean turning it into a powerhouse database like Oracle.

The simple fact is, MySQL and Oracle do not, and have never, played in the same league, and I believe it would be a mistake to try and turn MySQL into a shitty Oracle. MySQL has a niche... keep it there.

Re:Should Read: Sun announces last MySQL products (4, Interesting)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687095)

The gap between MySQL and Oracle is huge and not likely to be closed anytime soon.

Technology leaders in big companies aren't as into all the open source gossip as the slashdot crowd are and I wouldn't be surprised if many of them didn't even know there were MySQL forks or what that meant.

They would rather go with a MySQL that is named MySQL and has a big company like Sun or Oracle, the leading db vendor that also owns the only sane database engine for MySQL, than some noname fork. Even if it was started by the MySQL founders and all the developers went to it. If all the MySQL developers go to a fork, well then Oracle developers will take over.

What's more concerning is IBMs partnership with EnterpriseDB [cnet.com] , which is based on PostgreSQL.

If you want an open source database that closes the gap with Oracle, use PostgreSQL.

Sun should have never bought MySQL. Instead they should have put more effort into PostgreSQL. Sun has had some big wins with Solaris and Postgresql [arnnet.com.au] in the past and offer support for it on Solaris.

Must be tough since Oracle is an important part of Sun's business but Oracle has done things that could be considered as stabbing Sun in the back too.

Re:Should Read: Sun announces last MySQL products (2, Informative)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687241)

Most people I know that plan to start with a OSS database and move to Oracle start with PostgreSQL, since PostgreSQL mirrors the capabilities and features of Oracle pretty close, just it's not quite as fast. (But the PostgreSQL folks have been making progress).

Re:Should Read: Sun announces last MySQL products (1)

oliderid (710055) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687013)

Oracle will surely kill (or at least castrate) MySQL.

Well it would be stupid. MySQL has Open Source competitors, they can easily replace it. they would destroy their asset value and nothing else.

Repercusions for FOSS licenses (1, Interesting)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686447)

It's not the first time. I've seen supposedly open source die a cruel death at the hands of its creators. Anyone remember the Free Internet Chess Servers? The FICS code is still on dark corners of the net, but you'll have a fight on your hands if you want to try to use it, and I believe the guy who claims to own it because he contributed to it used it as the base of the current incarnation of FICS which is actually a paid service. You can't get the source to the server from there anymore.

So if Oracle are able to somehow prevent the use of this code, either due to terms of employment of the pricinple devs or by claiming ownership of the code and rescinding the free license, it'll make all these licenses worthless. Oracle has deep pockets. Individual developers don't.

Hell even if they can't impose their will legally but still manage to get their way due to fragmentation of the group, it's a black day for FOSS.

I really REALLY hope the devs are able to fork and move on.

Re:Repercusions for FOSS licenses (2, Insightful)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686495)

So if Oracle are able to somehow prevent the use of this code, either due to terms of employment of the pricinple devs or by claiming ownership of the code and rescinding the free license, it'll make all these licenses worthless. Oracle has deep pockets. Individual developers don't.

Unless those principle devs are still working at Oracle they can't do the former, and the latter is only possible on future versions of MySQL so one can fork the last free version of the software and Oracle can't do a damn thing about it.

Re:Repercusions for FOSS licenses (3, Insightful)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686557)

But what license was the FICS code under? Was it really "open source"?

There are plenty of licenses that provide for distribution of source but are so restrictive that no one considers them to be "open source".

Re:Repercusions for FOSS licenses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686611)

What surprises me is that Sun didn't ask the main devs to sign a non-compete contract as part of the original deal.

Re:Repercusions for FOSS licenses (2, Informative)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686823)

I don't believe Non Compete agreements are valid in California.

Re:Repercusions for FOSS licenses (1)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686959)

What surprises me is that Sun didn't ask the main devs to sign a non-compete contract as part of the original deal.

Yes, I too am surprised that Sun didn't ask the main devs to sign an illegal non-compete agreement.

http://lawzilla.com/content/noncompete.shtml [lawzilla.com]

Re:Repercusions for FOSS licenses (2, Informative)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686985)

I don't think that you can revoke GPL from your own previous releases (say MySQL 5 before the sun aquisition): "However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in full compliance." (from GPLv2)

Re:Repercusions for FOSS licenses (1)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686673)

Isn't this the whole point of a real open source license, rather than just publishing stuff and saying 'go play'? Either you're spouting misinformation, or the GPL et al are completely worthless...

Re:Repercusions for FOSS licenses (1)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687187)

Isn't this the whole point of a real open source license, rather than just publishing stuff and saying 'go play'? Either you're spouting misinformation, or the GPL et al are completely worthless...

This is one of the weaknesses of the GPL that doesn't work well with internet services.

The GPL only requires you to provide the source, and modifications, if you distrubute a product.

Installing the software on a server, and letting others access the software, doesn't count as distributing the software.

Re:Repercusions for FOSS licenses (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686933)

Free internet chess server - source GPL'd

"http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=86389"

You didn't look very hard ...?

Once it's GPL it's free forever you cannot close source it ... you can only close source newer versions...

Eh no. This raises no larger question (1)

GauteL (29207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686473)

.. about "who really owns a commercial open software application".

The copyright holders owns a commercial open software application. If all the copyright has been assigned to a corporation, then the corporation owns the copyright. This is fact.

Obviously, if the corporation has licensed other people to use and distribute it (i.e. with the GPL) then non-copyright holders may have some rights too.

This leads us to the only part of the GPL that I think is in any way legally questionable (IANAL). I'm not sure it is entirely legally clear if the copyright holder is allowed to revoke the GPL licensing terms or not, no matter what is said in the license. (i.e. They could argue that the license is not a binding contract).

In the opposite case of anyone breaking the GPL license by releasing binary only derivatives, the violator can not hide behind 'not a binding contract' because that would remove all of their rights to the software whatsoever (they have no rights other than what the GPL grants them).

If the copyright holder is allowed to revoke the license, they could close up any project that they own copyright to without allowing any forks. It would mean a loss of MySQL and OpenOffice.org as free software forever.

Re:Eh no. This raises no larger question (2, Insightful)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686599)

This leads us to the only part of the GPL that I think is in any way legally questionable (IANAL). I'm not sure it is entirely legally clear if the copyright holder is allowed to revoke the GPL licensing terms or not, no matter what is said in the license.

No, they can't. The FSF has already stated that if the public has had the right to use the program under the GPL that it can't be revoked.

Can the developer of a program who distributed it under the GPL later license it to another party for exclusive use?
No, because the public already has the right to use the program under the GPL, and this right cannot be withdrawn.

http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/gpl-faq.html#CanDeveloperThirdParty [fsf.org]

Re:Eh no. This raises no larger question (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686721)

The FSF doesn't actually make law (and I doubt it is a given that their intent would override the intent of some author that used the GPL).

I don't think it is particularly likely that anyone could successfully revoke the gpl on code that they had distributed, but you can't look to the FSF for that determination (only for their opinion).

Re:Eh no. This raises no larger question (2, Informative)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686813)

I don't think it is particularly likely that anyone could successfully revoke the gpl on code that they had distributed, but you can't look to the FSF for that determination (only for their opinion).

It's entirely unlikely because the license itself explicitly forbids it.

Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein.

Once the rights have been granted to copy, distribute and modify the program any attempt to revoke those rights is imposing further restrictions, which as the quoted section says is forbidden.

Re:Eh no. This raises no larger question (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687141)

I'm not trying to deny the intent of the license, I'm pointing out that up until there is case law regarding specific clauses, there is some small possibility that a clause might not matter (the various GNU licenses are carefully written to avoid this, but that doesn't make them bulletproof, it just makes them reasonable to use).

Re:Eh no. This raises no larger question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686859)

for a specific version.

if i release v 1.2 under the GPL, that code is always GPLed.

now, as copyright holder i can then release version 1.3 under BSD or GPL3 or even make it closed source, because I own the copyright. The GPL CANNOT take that from me.

so i can make version 1.3 closed source. BUT version 1.2 will continue to be GPL. The code has been released as GPL.

also, you can dual or tri- or any type of liscense code you want. again if you are the copyright holder. if it is your code, you can do what you want with it.

Re:Eh no. This raises no larger question (1)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686891)

Of course you can relicense future versions under a new license and I never said otherwise (in fact in another post in this article I said just this). The person I responded to was talking about someone revoking the GPL for previous versions of the code which is not possible.

Re:Eh no. This raises no larger question (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686613)

People have tried it, there have been a couple of cases, though I can't remember the names of the software off the top of my head. Generally goes like this:

write program,
releasing a few versions under GPL,
corporate interest/money arrive
I'm revoking the GPL, you all have to delete any copies of MY stuff you have

Now, I know that if a single entity holds the copyrights to the whole thing then they can release it under another license any time they like, and stop producing GPL'd versions, but I don't think they can tell their users that they no longer have rigths to stuff they've already got. It seems like that would go so far against common sense as to be ludicrous. But then we are taking about the law...

Re:Eh no. This raises no larger question (2, Interesting)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686637)

This leads us to the only part of the GPL that I think is in any way legally questionable (IANAL). I'm not sure it is entirely legally clear if the copyright holder is allowed to revoke the GPL licensing terms or not, no matter what is said in the license. (i.e. They could argue that the license is not a binding contract).

They could argue that, but even if that were to be found to be the case, for any program with significant distribution, I'd think the doctrine of "detrimental reliance" would apply.

Re:Eh no. This raises no larger question (1)

squoozer (730327) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686819)

IANAL either but I suspect as they are the copyright holder they can change the licence whenever they want to whatever they want. In fact I believe this happened with the X Server and is one of the things that spawned the X Org that we now use.

What I don't think that can though is change the licence retrospectively so you would just have to fork from the nightly before the licence change. If you could have retrospective licence changes how would you ever know if the software you were running was valid?

Re:Eh no. This raises no larger question (2, Informative)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686847)

they way MySQL and stuff from the GNU/FSF is set up, they require contributors to sign the work over to them. Then the body in charge has ALL the rights and can do what they will. Like when the FSF moved everything to GPL 3, they could do that unilaterally because they had assignment.

Mozilla also has assignment and releases just what you say under a tri-license, the same code base published 3 times. Two are open source (MIT & LGPL) but the main Firefox branded binary is actually NOT open source. Anybody can fork the MIT or LGPL versions but has to strip all branding and can't call it "firefox" or "mozilla".

They can't UNLICENSE things already in the wild though. But much like Red Hat/CentOS, they could beat you up over every little point of branding (because they own the name) and keep suing you for every little code comment if they were that petty, leaving mountains of work for somebody to get "every reference" to the old name/logos out before distribution. Of course a fork is only useful if enough people follow you, and that's where nearly all the projects break down.... only the new parent company is big enough to provide new features and timely support.

On the other hand Linux is pure GPL 2. Because Linus has no "foundation" when he wrote it, contributions are still owned by the individual coders... moving off of GPL 2 is nearly impossible because many early contributors no longer work on Linux or are deceased. The copyright sticks, so the only way to change the license would be to rewrite the modules entirely.

Re:Eh no. This raises no larger question (2, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686893)

If the copyright holder is allowed to revoke the license, they could close up any project that they own copyright to without allowing any forks. It would mean a loss of MySQL and OpenOffice.org as free software forever.

This is taken care of by section 6 of the GPL v2 (though it appears as section 7 in the MySQL documentation for version 5.0 at least.

  • Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein. You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties to this License.

If I give you a copy of MySQL that I download today, you automatically get a license to modify and distribute from the copyright holder. Any copies you distribute will likewise have a perpetual license as long as you and the recipient obey the requirements of the GPL V2.

That's not something Sun or Oracle can take away from you. They can stop releasing new versions under the GPL as they own the code (anyone submitting patches must agree to the Sun Contributer Agreement [mysql.com] ). They cannot, however, unGPL the code that has already been released.

Re:Eh no. This raises no larger question (2, Insightful)

GauteL (29207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687339)

You're not really answering my post. The GPL is clear enough on this matter, but it isn't entirely legally clear if the GPL is to be considered a binding contract or not. Thus, my argument can't really be answered by referring to the GPL. The FSF has their opinion on the matter, but the FSF does not make laws.

This is not a problem at all in the opposite case where a recipient of the code breaks the license, because without the license, the recipient has no rights to the code.

However, without the license, the copyright holder has all the rights exclusively to the code.

I'm not saying there is a big chance of the copyright holder being legally able to revoke the licensing on GPL software, but I do think it is worth considering as a remote possibility. In any case I don't think it is a good idea to agree to reassign copyright on your contributions to SUN/Oracle.

We'll Find Out For Sure... (1)

blcamp (211756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686501)

...after the coming litigation.

Licenses (2, Insightful)

tsotha (720379) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686525)

To ensure MySQL's survival, he wants to fork from the official version -- using his company Monty Program Ab to create what he calls a MySQL "Fedora" project. This raises the larger question of who really owns a commercial open software application: the corporate copyright holders, or the community?"

That's what all the lawyering over the license text is all about. This question is one of the more settled questions in the industry.

Get it here (5, Funny)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686531)

Get the improved code here [postgresql.org] .

Re:Get it here (0, Offtopic)

AlterRNow (1215236) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686657)

The world's most advanced open source database

Shame they couldn't spend a little time and allow the website to fill the width of my browser. IMO: Fixed width site = lazy design = unimpressive.

Re:Get it here (1, Flamebait)

carambola5 (456983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687177)

Sometimes, a fixed width is more effective than full width.
Sometimes, a fixed width is cleaner than full width.
Sometimes, a fixed width is more graceful than full width.

There are very few hard-and-fast rules in web design. Always designing to full width is not one of them.

Shame you couldn't spell out "In my opinion." Abbreviations = lazy typing = unimpressive.

Re:Get it here (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687179)

Fills the full width of my browser, but then I actually know a bit about typography and set my browser width to a comfortable maximum line length for variable-width sites, rather than letting lines become very long and making them difficult to read.

That said, it doesn't reflow nicely if I reduce the width of the window to something that a typical mobile device might support. It fails, but for the opposite of the reason you suggest.

Re:Get it here (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687425)

I know a bit about typography as well, but I've been using computers for so long that line length doesn't make much difference to me. NoSquint made a much bigger difference in readability. Also I keep my all-in-one-sidebar continually visible, which narrows the view a bit. Many webpages are unusable if you don't widen the screen quite a bit.

Re:Get it here (1)

AbbyNormal (216235) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686975)

I'm not too certain of that. I use the replication built into MySQL (with minimal glue) and I've found it to be extremely easy to setup with a few stock Ubuntu server images. Just doing a brief google search reveals a lot of postgres replication products (Slony/PGCluster/DBBalancer), but they did not seem to have any active development on them in a while. I am not knocking PostGres by any means as I find the different language options for Procedures/Functions and the admin tools to be a huge boon.

I think it's time to switch... (4, Insightful)

Khan (19367) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686729)

...to PostgreSQL. Seriously, I already use it for GpsDrive. Now I just need to convince the Cacti devs to switch over.

I'm so going to get flamed... (4, Interesting)

squoozer (730327) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686751)

As the owner of a software development company I think your would have to be stark raving nuts to open source your main product. It's not that the model can't work it just that if it becomes successful you are pretty much guaranteed to lose control of it at some point.

If we look at MySQL for example: here's a company that produces half way decent database engine that that make open source. They play the open source game "properly" producing code that a mortal can compile to get a working database. While the company is giving the community what they want everything is hunky dory and there is peace.

Enter Sun who buy MySQL and suddenly the community isn't happy and it's fork fork fork. Only one of those forks needs to be any good and all of a sudden Suns not bought very much at all. If a company plays nice with the open source community forks are fairly easy but rare. The problem is they hang like a knife (or maybe that should be fork) over the company and if they are unfortunate enough to annoy the community they could eaisly lose control of their product.

That said I think there are situations where companies can participate in open source. The Linux kernel and Plone being a couple of good examples. Both of those projects are structured very differently to the MySQL situation though as no one company is trying to make a living off the code.

Re:I'm so going to get flamed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686895)

If Sun was a good steward of MySQL then we would not be having this discussion. Apparently Sun has done something to piss of the dev community. I'm not sure what they did, but this is one of the reasons the GPL exists.

Re:I'm so going to get flamed... (4, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686945)

If we look at MySQL for example: here's a company that produces half way decent database engine that that make open source. They play the open source game "properly" producing code that a mortal can compile to get a working database. While the company is giving the community what they want everything is hunky dory and there is peace.

Enter Sun who buy MySQL and suddenly the community isn't happy and it's fork fork fork.

Congratulations! With your very example you actually managed to disprove your original assertion. See, your original claim was this:

"As the owner of a software development company I think your would have to be stark raving nuts to open source your main product."

But, the very first paragraph in that quoted text demonstrates that isn't actually the case. The community was very happy with and supportive of MySQL corporate.

The problem, as you pointed out, was the purchase by Sun. In that case, the customers didn't feel Sun would necessarily have their interests at heart, and so there was dissatisfaction. This is only increased by the fact that Sun has now been purchased by Oracle, a company that actually markets a product in the same general space (I would argue they aren't actually in the same market, and so MySQL has little to fear, but... people aren't exactly rational).

So the key to running a company on an open codebase seems simple: keep your customers happy, and don't give them the impression that their interested are being threatened. But, of course, that's a good general rule to follow regardless of the license your code falls under. The only real difference between open and closed source, in this case, is that if the source is closed, you may have achieved vendor lock-in, which gives you more freedom to buttfuck your customers, as they won't have a clear avenue for recourse... but if that's your strategy, well, frankly, fuck you.

Re:I'm so going to get flamed... (1)

tuffy (10202) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686947)

By making MySQL open source, the founders benefit because they received a lot of money from Sun and don't lose their product's source code, even after leaving the company.

Sun, by buying the company, not only gain the product's source code, but also the MySQL name. And the name is the important thing to them, since Sun could've made their own fork from the source if they simply wanted a database.

So it seems like everyone got exactly what they wanted out of the deal.

Re:I'm so going to get flamed... (1)

windsurfer619 (958212) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687051)

I think you're forgetting the part where Sun can then get back the code from the fork. And Sun still has just as much control of their own version, as they have just as many devs working on it.

I think what you really mean is this: If you are open sourcing your main product in hopes of sacrificing direct purchase revenue for free developer time, you run the risk of alienating your community and losing developer time if they decide you aren't doing a good job.

Re:I'm so going to get flamed... (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687055)


It's not that the model can't work it just that if it becomes successful you are pretty much guaranteed to lose control of it at some point.

The mistake you make is you keep trying to think of the model as "owning the software" rather than "employing smart people that make your product worth buying, and keeping those smart people happy". If you don't do both of those things, you fail.

The problem is they hang like a knife (or maybe that should be fork) over the company and if they are unfortunate enough to annoy the community they could eaisly lose control of their product.

Here's what I see from 10,000 feet after only knowing a little about MySQL and its history. (I don't use it, and if I want a free DB I use Postgresql).

I don't think they annoyed the community as you put it. I think what happened is the developer weren't kept happy, so they left. The project got derailed at that point and the product suffered. Closed source products have the same issues. They normally deal with this issue by trying to lock in users with proprietary interfaces, spreading FUD, etc. Basically stall until you can find people again to improve your product. That doesn't work as well with OSS.

As far as being crazy to open source your product.. well, it depends. If you're the top one or two guys in your market and aren't threatened by a Big Player.. you probably would be crazy to open source it. On the other hand if you're a small fish, or a Big Player is going to stomp you, it can make a lot of sense. In the end, it's not different than any other business decision. YMMV.

Re:I'm so going to get flamed... (1)

AbbyNormal (216235) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687119)

But with the knife hanging over you, wouldn't you have more incentive to keep the imagination/heart of the community alive? It may be more difficult than simply answering to a board of directors/stockholders, but in the end you end up with a better quality product.

  Sun/Oracle/MySQL did not lose control of their product by any means, as they still own the name and brand. Most corporate customers most likely will stay with the main branch of the code and the supporting company rather than go with the "forked" branch. If one of the open source forks produces something that was missing in the original branch, then it will (hopefully) be merged back into the main branch.

  I agree there are risks to open sourcing your main product, but if you provide the better support and code base and keep an organized/energetic community, you'll garner a larger share of paying corporate customers.

Re:I'm so going to get flamed... (2, Interesting)

kv9 (697238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687133)

The Linux kernel and Plone being a couple of good examples. Both of those projects are structured very differently to the MySQL situation though as no one company is trying to make a living off the code.

RedHat and SUSE might disagree with you on that one.

Re:I'm so going to get flamed... (1)

zx75 (304335) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687245)

Why do you have to be nuts to open source it?

If you are planning to make most of your money by selling the software directly, then yes I agree that you would be nuts to open source it. But that is not how the game is played. You play the game by open sourcing your software in order to build recognition and acceptance, and you make money by selling support contracts to businesses who need up-time guarantees and someone to call when things go wrong.

Once you have business acceptance and money coming in from contracts you can mine the community for software improvements (as well as creating your own). Then if something happens (like a buy-out) and the community goes on a fork-frenzy, WHO CARES? This is NOT a bad situation to be in because this means that the community is fairly large and committed to your database. In fact this may simply increase your exposure and bring in even more customers, because remember that your customers are NOT the people who USE your software, they are the businesses that pay for SUPPORT.

That is how the game is played... or at least one way that it can be played.

Re:I'm so going to get flamed... (2, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687467)

The problem is they hang like a knife (or maybe that should be fork) over the company and if they are unfortunate enough to annoy the community they could eaisly lose control of their product.

And that is one of the major reasons why professional software engineers love commercial Open Source software. The company is on no uncertain terms with the customer: Keep us happy and we keep giving you money for support contracts. Turn into a dick and we walk. It is a vastly healthier relationship for mission critical business information systems.

Before I go on, let me note that what I am about to say does not consider redistribution, which is its own thorny problem and is intrinsically linked to copyright.

On the matter of continued use and improvement, a critical matter to information systems, the fiat monopoly of copyright is extremely dangerous to the customer. If a commercial proprietary software vendor changes the terms of the bargain, the options are to use the existing software as it is, to migrate your information infrastructure, or to accept the new terms. The first, using the software as it stands, is usually impractical in this rapidly evolving industry. The second, migration, can be enormously expensive. The final option, paying the Dane Gelt, is often the least objectionable option at the time.

And so it is that while redistribution is an issue which copyright may handle well, continued use and improvement falls heavily in favor of Open Source or non-copyright. Because continued use and improvement is so critical to mission critical information systems, it is in our industry that the onus of copyright has become most visible, and in our industry that Open Source first became a significant market option.

Let me make it easy (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686783)

If MySQL had a BSD license it would be owned by the community.
If MySQL had a "non-free" commecial license it would be owned by Oracle.
The mess MySQL, and you, find yourselves in is because of MySQL's stupid dual-level license bullshit. Nobody seems to be able to figure it out or agree on it and it has caused more column inches of claptrap on Slashdot than the MySQL/PostgreSQL threads themselves. MySQL's originator's wanted to have it both ways: Lots-O-corporate money AND GPL poster child. Well they got their money alright, but to get it they had to pray for a really wealthy, poorly managed corporation to come along and vet their convoluted business plan. That would be Sun.

Now, with a billion dollars spent to "buy" MySQL but a bunch of forks still out there, no company in their right mind is going to invest anything in MySQL because they'll be worried Widenius will just steal the improvements and fork it again. MySQL is pariah, it's poisoned.

If you're running any kind of data volume worth talking about you're better off with PostgreSQL. Not only is it faster with *real* queries and more robust, but now it's safer going forward.

Re:Let me make it easy (2, Informative)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687145)

Except MySQL didn't want their code "owned by the community". That's why they dual licensed it to begin with.

If they wanted it to be "free and open like BSD" they could have simply made the relevant parts LGPL.

This notion of yours that FSF licenses are incompatable with business is just a fantasy.

Who is Spartacus? (1)

tsstahl (812393) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686829)

Will the real MySQL please stand up.

Who controls? (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687003)

If the code's GPL-licensed, the answer's simple: the user community. As long as the corporate owner continues to serve the users' needs, the users will stick with the "official" version. If the corporate owner (or any other fork maintainer for that matter) starts to send the code in directions that don't serve the users' needs, those users will tend to switch to a fork that does better serve their needs. If there isn't one now, there will be once some enterprising soul realizes there's money to be made giving users what the corporate owner won't. And the terms of the GPL mean the corporate owner can't legally stop this process. If it wasn't a copyright-assignment-required project the corporate owner can't even get out from under the GPL terms going forward.

If you think it won't happen, think back to the GCC/EGCS fork/reunification.

Secret to Success (2, Insightful)

steltho (1121605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687017)

1. Create a company around a popular open source database.
2. Sell company for $1 billion.
3. Profit
4. Fork it
5. ???
6. Profit again

Oracle wants more people writing SQL (2, Interesting)

davecb (6526) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687093)

So they improved InnoDB to make MySql more attractive to the small folks. If they become as big as eBay and PayPal, they probably will switch to Oracle (;-))

--dave

Proved me right! (1)

rgviza (1303161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687107)

I told my team mate this would happen as soon as I heard the news about Oracle buying Sun on Monday. I had NO idea it would happen this fast.

Monty should call the new project OurSQL =D

-Viz

Dead Horse Flogged - Again (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687191)

I think we've already answered this a million times.
BSD - Do whatever you want, but give attribution. Fork you!
GPL - Do just about whatever you want, but you have to distribute source, and a few other conditions. Fork happens.
Standard Copyright - Don't even think about forking.

Since it's (or was) GPL, forks are allowed by the copyright. If the current copyright holders don't like it, they shouldn't have bought a GPL licensed product, or kept the community happy. They obviously failed to some degree on the second option, and so we have forks. And so long as the forks follow the requirements of the GPL, all the copyright holders can do is scream and shake their fists. Or straighten things out and hope the forks re-merge or die.

A little OT but Monty will be talking in the US (1)

atari2600 (545988) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687409)

Bellingham, WA will be hosting their 10th LinuxFest Northwest this coming weekend (25th and 26th) and Monty Widenius will be a speaker on the 25th. Just a heads up for anyone in the area wanting to see and hear the man speak.

Nice -- (1)

KingPin27 (1290730) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687461)

So it appears that MySQL is going the way of the Microsoft model. whats next MySQL home premium platinum but somewhat not limited for use version or perhaps MySQL go jump off a bridge edition.

PostgreSQL FTW

A better question (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27687473)

Who really owns a commercial open software application: the corporate holders of the trademarked name of the project, or the community?

The copyright is pretty much irrelevant up to the point that the corporate holders change the copyright and licensing. But, if Oracle now owns the trademark "MySQL", then Monty Program Ab may not be able to use the name MySQL.

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