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Open Source Licensing - Cuts Both Ways?

Hemos posted about 9 years ago | from the up-for-debate dept.

Databases 367

shortscruffydave writes "The Register is running a piece Open source databases - a sword that cuts both ways? which mentions one of the potential pitfalls of open source databases: "Open source is just another licensing model: the more accepted it becomes, the more it is adopted at a strategic level, the more it plays back into the hands of the traditional behemoths that dominate the industry". " I couldn't disagree more with the author of this piece, since I think the success of Postgres & MySQL are already contra-proof positive, but the piece is still an interesting read.

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133327)

FP baby!

Re:fp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133597)

Bravo, my pet - you shall be champion!

OpenSourcing a DB (4, Insightful)

mirko (198274) | about 9 years ago | (#12133329)

It's still a good idea as it allows third parties to write plugins and conduits more easily for it.

Re:OpenSourcing a DB (5, Informative)

kevin_conaway (585204) | about 9 years ago | (#12133485)

You don't need open source for this. Merely publishing an API and an SDK would accomplish that.

Re:OpenSourcing a DB (2, Interesting)

mirko (198274) | about 9 years ago | (#12133566)

Sometimes, benefiting from the source code as well allows you to optimize the way you will help the db internals to assimilate the data it receives from its interfaces.

I call bull (5, Insightful)

MPHellwig (847067) | about 9 years ago | (#12133339)

The arguments given in the article are inadequate IMHO, they are just as and mostly more applicable to closed source software.
The key argument for open source vs closed source is: The source is available, you can support/develop it by your own or hire in support/development/warranty, now try that with closed source.
All disadvantages for open source are at least applicable for closed source, closed source has no real advantage on open source.

Re:I call bull (4, Interesting)

cosinezero (833532) | about 9 years ago | (#12133371)

"closed source has no real advantage on open source." -->Except for that little thing called "Developers getting paid"... Sure, there's all this "support" argument, but I worked my ass off to get out of support. I don't want to do support. I want to write code that is so good it doesn't -require- support, and be paid for it.

Re:I call bull (3, Insightful)

bman08 (239376) | about 9 years ago | (#12133500)

Is it possible to get paid writing open source code for companies that don't provide software as their business? Aren't the guys working on cinepaint, for example, doing just that?

Re:I call bull (1)

cosinezero (833532) | about 9 years ago | (#12133655)

It may be possible now; but will it be possible once the bigwigs upstairs get wind of the words "free software"? I don't know about the company most of you work for, but I know plenty of the companies I've worked for were plagued by the suits asking "if there's software out there that will do this for free"... which sometimes is acceptable, other times... isn't.

Re:I call bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133824)

Trick is to write that software that doesnt already excist, and wont exicst (usually because its boring) without someone being paid. then release it open source. viola, getting paid for open source.

Re:I call bull (1)

dynamol (867859) | about 9 years ago | (#12133790)

Question is do we all want to compete for those limited jobs? Don't get me wrong I love open source software. Have contributed to it. However all software can't and shouldn't be open source...unless of course you think that we should all use our fancy educations for minimum wage jobs so that we can afford power to code for free? Neither closed source nor open source will dominate the market. There is room for both and both will prosper.

Re:I call bull (1)

jkxx (739331) | about 9 years ago | (#12133551)

The first logical step would then be to start designing code for operating systems other than Windows (such as Linux).

Re:I call bull (1)

Donny Smith (567043) | about 9 years ago | (#12133554)

> I worked my ass off to get out of support.

There's nothing worse that having to waste your time with underqualified users unworthy one's attention.
What a waste of time... The more time one spends with such folks, the worse one bomecomes...
I'm trying to get out of that vicious circle myself.

Re:I call bull (4, Interesting)

Secrity (742221) | about 9 years ago | (#12133557)

Are you saying that Red Hat's developers don't get paid? Are you saying that Suse's developers don't get paid? Are you saying that sendmail's developers don't get paid? There are open source projects that do pay developers and nobody is being forced to work on an open source project without pay. Nobody is stopping you from writing closed source code that is so good that it doesn't require support. There is also nothing that would force anybody to pay you for writing that code. Choose the business model that you are most comfortable with.

Re:I call bull (2, Insightful)

cosinezero (833532) | about 9 years ago | (#12133621)

You're talking about -major- projects, and for products that thrive on support for either open OR closed models. But I develop in business application markets - where the ideal goal is ZERO support and training required. That's the pinnacle of office software - to be so intuitive that a child could use it.

You should be paid for your -features-, not for someone else's work training people on it. We don't pay Ford on the driver's training fees, nor can we.

And I call bullshit anyways - Red hat developers get paid? Sure, but do the hundreds of developers involved with the source upstream from RH get ANY of that money? No...

Re:I call bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133836)

And I call bullshit anyways - Red hat developers get paid? Sure, but do the hundreds of developers involved with the source upstream from RH get ANY of that money? No...

What do you know?
They might do it in their free time as a hobby, to solve some of their own need, or maybe to help them on their own jobs.
They chose to license it under an open source license because they will receive benefits that way too, and their piece of software would likely die other way.
Also to make a name for oneself.

Re:I call bull (2, Insightful)

dynamol (867859) | about 9 years ago | (#12133851)

And like I mentioned before....do you really want all the programmers in the world to compete for these few jobs....are you sure that you have what it takes to beat out 99% of all programmers in the world? Both open and closed source have their place. Truth is....somethings will never get done if money is not involved...no amount of idealism is going to change the way the world has worked since the dawn of time. And honestly...people do deserve to be paid for their invoations...do they deserve a lock on the market...that is a different story. Patents are a totally different story.

Re:I call bull (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133578)

I want to write code that is so good it doesn't -require- support,

No such thing.


Re:I call bull (1)

W3bbo (727049) | about 9 years ago | (#12133584)

Don't the Linux developers working from IBM get paid though? Although subsidized via IBM's other ventures. Consider Zend... the platform (PHP) is OSS, but the IDE is expensive (more expensive than VisualStudio in certain circumstances) Speaking of VS... the 2005 "Visual Express" products from MS are supposidly available as freeware downloads (or $45 in the shops). I think this is a weird reverse trend we're seeing.

Re:I call bull (1)

cosinezero (833532) | about 9 years ago | (#12133718)

MS is releasing their stripped IDE's to proselytize .NET. And I personally think it will work ; C#.net is -very- cool, I don't know many people that have actually examined it that don't like it. (read: plenty of anti-MS people hate it without ever understanding it)

Re:I call bull (1)

mattdm (1931) | about 9 years ago | (#12133634)

"closed source has no real advantage on open source." -->Except for that little thing called "Developers getting paid"

Yes, and it'd be very nice if all of the creative work that anyone felt like they wanted to do could be highly paid.

Re:I call bull (2, Insightful)

cosinezero (833532) | about 9 years ago | (#12133686)

Yeah, it would. Where do you see open source changing that, and further, how do propose that we creative developers defend ourselves against a big fish picking the project up and 'providing support' for it, and NOT paying developers?

Re:I call bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133896)

You provide better support then your concurents, Free Software works with capitalism not against it.

Re:I call bull (3, Interesting)

lilo_booter (649045) | about 9 years ago | (#12133698)

I get paid to develop Open Source software and so do many others.

Doing so ensures that not only I do get the immediate returns, I get a longer term return in that I can reuse components freely for multiple customers (assuming that they have compatible licensing and goals). This is rarely an option with closed source; I've even worked in closed source companies that have multiple customers - sometimes they won't even let you share code between them.

As for writing software that doesn't need support - heh - well, good luck on that one :-). There's always something, be it additional functionality, changes in your projects dependencies, licensing consideration and of course, there are bugs and user usage/understanding issues. Unfortunately, it's not just about writing code....

Re:I call bull (2, Insightful)

cosinezero (833532) | about 9 years ago | (#12133780)

Yes, but while that's fine and well and good, and explainable to other techies, the general populace doesn't get a piece of buggy or obtuse code and say "Well, I suppose I should pay them to patch this!", they say "eff this, this software sucks!" Seriously, find a job in technical support. I spent 2 years as a tier-two technician for a certain software empire. Users don't want to pay for bug fixes, compatability changes, or useability features after-the-fact. They want that in -this- release, free or otherwise. They will pay for good software off the bat... but rarely will they pay for additions to free software. Think about it - where is anyone making money right now selling upgrades? Microsoft -is-, because they've got customers that understand that they pay for the software, and get free bug support, and have to pay for training. People pay for their next version because they can't get that sort of upgrade anywhere else. But with linux, say... customers can say "Well, screw this; this flavor has xxx but wants me to pay for it, while this company over here has flavor yyy that's free." It's just not going to work once people figure these things out. You FOSS/OSS guys underestimate the target audience here...

Re:I call bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133846)

I want to write code that is so good it doesn't -require- support, and be paid for it.

I can't see how writing open source code prevents you from doing just that.

Oh wait - you mean more that once!???

Re:I call bull (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 9 years ago | (#12133394)

I agree, whether or not a project is "strategic" for a company, if it has a dedicated community around it it will survive. That's kind of the whole point.

See your bull, raise you two roosters (4, Interesting)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 9 years ago | (#12133407)

Elmer must've got up early and munched a wot of waxative to pump out dat kinda FUD.
A more full treatment of the TFA topic can be found in Coase's Penguin [benkler.org] .
From the abstract:
In this paper I explain that while free software is highly visible, it is in fact only one example of a much broader social-economic phenomenon. I suggest that we are seeing is the broad and deep emergence of a new, third mode of production in the digitally networked environment. I call this mode "commons-based peer-production," to distinguish it from the property- and contract-based models of firms and markets. Its central characteristic is that groups of individuals successfully collaborate on large-scale projects following a diverse cluster of motivational drives and social signals, rather than either market prices or managerial commands.
My personal spin is that, just as the printing press broke down the medieval market on literacy, so the GPL will increasingly educate the masses.
Props to RMS, the modern Gutenberg.

I also call bull (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133409)

The arguments given in the article are inadequate IMHO

The time between article posting and your comment was inadequate foe article reading IMHO. This is a blatant karma grab post IMHO, especially since you go on to talk about nothing in the article.

Of course, it isn't all your fault. Blame also lies on the moderators who blindly modded you up.

Re:I call bull (1)

jacen_sunstrider (797955) | about 9 years ago | (#12133421)

Unless your code is infested with horrible documentation, sloppy and inefficient code, or old codes that some would almost let through, but are stopped by the guy in the black suit.
Recently in an argument over this topic in general, the one argument that I couldn't immediately break apart was that open-source projects can be very non-newbie friendly. I know there are several exceptions, but so many of my acquaintances will disregard OSS apps just because the closed ad-filled mainstream apps are streamlined for their non-caring comfort.
I finally won on the FireFox battle, but the big one, running a Linux flavor, is going to take a lot more work.
What? This isn't about open vs closed? Oops...

Re:I call bull (2, Interesting)

ergo98 (9391) | about 9 years ago | (#12133585)

The source is available, you can support/develop it by your own or hire in support/development/warranty, now try that with closed source.

The benefit of having the source is grossly overstated by most FOSS advocates.

Seriously, how many people really want to be developing/modifying their back-end RDBMS? Personally I'd rather just install SQL Server or DB2 and let Microsoft or IBM deal with that - my domain is in a different realm, and the database server simply supports it. I'm not going to spend 100s of hours trying to pretend I'm a database developer as well, and even if there were an itch, I (like the overwhelming majority of non-DB developers) am not skilled in a way to efficiently solve it.

All disadvantages for open source are at least applicable for closed source, closed source has no real advantage on open source.

Your advantage - fiddling with the code - is a close to negligible benefit (it reminds me of the ridiculous story recently about the "open source" rip off of delicious).

Re:I call bull (1)

platos_beard (213740) | about 9 years ago | (#12133831)

That the arguments apply equally to closed source is exactly the point. The idea that the long-term availability of support doesn't matter because you have the source code and can always hire your own developers is just absurd. Sure you can do it, but at a cost which is probably way higher than switch to a different database, so that option is close to irrelevant.

In matters of utmost importance for strategic deployment, open source has no advantage.

Transparency (-1, Troll)

hielenlikker (845669) | about 9 years ago | (#12133343)

All software should be open source. Only reason M$ keep it to themselves is because its buggy and they dont want us to laugh at them.

Re:Transparency (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133843)

haha you were modded Troll. Loser.

Licenses protect products period. (5, Interesting)

NerdHead (35767) | about 9 years ago | (#12133345)

Licensing is what keeps those behemoths from getting their hands on these
applications. It is interesting that the writer didn't tell us what option
he'd prefer - a closed license or no license at all. MySQL is offering a
choice of a commercial license or open-source. Money is important for the
survival of the company that markets open-source products but open-source
licenses don't restrict companies from charging for their product and MySQL
is a good example for how to deal with the issue.

Re:Licenses protect products period. (1)

realkiwi (23584) | about 9 years ago | (#12133618)

No, it isn't a good example of how to deal with the issue. It is a good example of confusing licencing policy.

At least back in 1997 all was clear to me - MySQL was not free for commercial use. How many licencing changes have they had since then? In that same period PostgreSQL has had zero (0) licencing changes.

Guess which one I use...

Re:Licenses protect products period. (1)

Kihaji (612640) | about 9 years ago | (#12133643)

Comprehension is 9/10ths of reading. The author of the article is stating that the license of a piece of software for a strategic piece of software is unimportant when compared to whether or not their is a company that can provide support/training for that product past the whim of the original developers.

The boon and bane of OSS is not the license, it is that the software is developed by someone to "scratch an itch" or because "it's interesting", itches and problems rarely stay interesting for long.

Article was worthless business/management drivel (2, Insightful)

Morgaine (4316) | about 9 years ago | (#12133785)

It is interesting that the writer didn't tell us what option he'd prefer

Well that's no surprise, given that the article said nothing of any substance whatsoever.

In effect what we have here is a manager of some sort seeking justification for his role in applying "strategy management" to open source. I bet the managers around him think that he's really cool and clued up on all this.

In reality, he just doesn't understand that the value of FOSS doesn't come from the financial muscle and longevity of its corporate backers at all. His entire position is 100% ill-founded, and he has no clue whatsoever about the power that FOSS can give his company. "Just another licensing model" says it all, really.

More like just another PHB or management type, totally out of his depth but still eager for control.

Say what? (4, Interesting)

SilverspurG (844751) | about 9 years ago | (#12133348)

Paragraph 1: Intro
Paragraph 2: Planning considerations
Paragraph 3: Existing players
Paragraph 4: Business considerations
Paragraph 5: Unsupported assertions
Paragraph 6: Unsupported assertions

Who founded Bloor Research? Who funds them? Who owns stock in them? Who are the members of their executive board and what are their social connections?

This is a really bad piece.

SHHH , this is /. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133604)

"Who founded Bloor Research? Who funds them? Who owns stock in them? Who are the members of their executive board and what are their social connections?"

SHHH , this is /. , they used to care about that stuff , but not anymore.

Re:Say what? (5, Interesting)

gowen (141411) | about 9 years ago | (#12133673)

Look at some of they're other reports
In "The Road Ahead", Bill Gates himself wrote enthusiastically about the "software ecosystem" that surrounded Microsoft in its early years. It made a huge contribution to the success of Windows, by creating an application-rich environment. The same kind of ecosystem now surrounds Open Source and it is growing quickly. I am amazed by its potential. It could completely undermine Microsoft's monopoly, and it probably will. -- Samba, Soccer and Open Source [it-director.com]
Microsoft has a horrible position to defend; they have created a monster of complexity by enabling such an open model. Whilst it is true that we as consumers have seen the benefits of lower prices and mounting capability, there has been a price to pay. When the foundation is so shaky, you cannot be certain whether you will derive benefit from an update or whether in fact it will cause untold grief. -- Further problems associated with Service Pack 2? [it-director.com]
Doesn't read like a Gartner-style MS schill to me...

Re:Say what? (2, Insightful)

hab136 (30884) | about 9 years ago | (#12133803)

Doesn't read like a Gartner-style MS schill to me

Just because they're not a Microsoft shill [reference.com] , doesn't mean they're not a shill. Who would care about open source databases? Maybe Oracle, IBM (DB2), etc?

Personally I agree (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133356)

The article is right, which ever piece of software, you are locked into using the program the way the author designed, you are locked into the upgrade paths the author leads you, you are locked into any future costs the author charges.

Yes you can change the platform you are based on, but this typically costs more money than it is worth.

Yes you could modify the source, but this will cost more money than it is worth in R&D.

I.E., yes you are locked in, in the same way that the traditional behemoths that dominate the industry haved succesfully negotiated.

Re:Personally I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133462)

Pretty much true, with some models. With the GPL you're either locked into using what the authors have written, or locked into making your own changes AND releasing those changes into the wild.

Re:Personally I agree (2, Informative)

dzfoo (772245) | about 9 years ago | (#12133608)

Hum... This not really accurate. With the GPL you are only required to release the source of those modifications that were strictly based on the GPL'd source *AND* -- and this is key -- you distribute the modified code.

If you modified the GPL'd software for your own corporate needs, not for re-distribution, as seems to be the case with the target audience of the article, then you do *NOT* have to distribute any modified source.


Re:Personally I agree (1)

Tibe (444675) | about 9 years ago | (#12133526)

Exactly, however.

Wouldn't this 'lock in' drive up the quality of the code? Keep a consistant user feel?

Submissions from other developers are more carefully controlled. There is a more consistant approach. And yes, one day you might have to pay, but not right now you don't.

Re:Personally I agree (1)

corngrower (738661) | about 9 years ago | (#12133752)

Yes you can change the platform you are based on, but this typically costs more money than it is worth.

Sometimes one doesn't have a choice. Outgrowing old hardware, for instance. Yes you could modify the source, but this will cost more money than it is worth in R&D.

I've not found this to be true. Typically mods that would be needed are relatively small. It may take awhile to garner enought of an understanding of the existing code to properly make the change, howerver. It certainlty beats waiting around 4 months for the DB vendor to fix a problem in their coce. I.E., yes you are locked in, in the same way that the traditional behemoths that dominate the industry haved succesfully negotiated

But by having ths source code, and a whole community of others that understand the source code, you're free to make changes that are needed for, or would improve the performance of your own applications. You have the ultimate control of the database software, not some vendor whose going to cater to the needs its largest customers.

Misread TFA? (5, Insightful)

wild_berry (448019) | about 9 years ago | (#12133360)

I may have misread TFA, but the author appears to have missed the strategic value that is to be gained from investing staff and company hours into F/OSS projects for internal use.

The article seems to view the present hobbyist-driven projects as solutions procured in the same way that a company buys in commercial programming. The differences in modus operandi are so great that this cannot be the case. The trick is to find where the middle ground lies in order to profit.

Re:Misread TFA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133579)

I may have misread TFA, but the author appears to have missed the strategic value that is to be gained from investing staff and company hours into F/OSS projects for internal use.

Huh? If you aren't a database vendor, investing staff and company hours in developing a database doesn't bring stategic value. It is simply an extremey efficient way to flush money down the toilet.

F/OSS doesn't changege that one bit.

Contra-proof positive? (1)

tquinlan (868483) | about 9 years ago | (#12133362)

Why not just say "not proof"?

Or did the real meaning escape me, since that doesn't seem to be valid in just about any language? ;)

Re:Contra-proof positive? (2, Informative)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | about 9 years ago | (#12133455)

Because he want's to say that it's not proof would simply mean that the original author's proposition was unproven. What the submitter was trying to say, though, is that the success of MySQL and Postgres prove the opposite.

Re:Contra-proof positive? (1)

realnowhereman (263389) | about 9 years ago | (#12133482)

Only a guess, but I imagine that the submitter meant "proof of the opposite" by contra-proof. Which is obviously not the same as "not proof".

Re:Contra-proof positive? (2, Informative)

ctr2sprt (574731) | about 9 years ago | (#12133501)

"Not proof" means the absence of proof. "Contra-proof positive" means there is proof, but it's directly contrary to what the original author claims.

Say I claim that the sky is red and offer evidence to that effect. If my evidence is inadequate, then it's not proof. If my evidence proves that the sky is definitely not red, then it's contra-proof: it proves the opposite of what I am claiming.

It would be less awkward to say "proof negative," but the contra- prefix is common in philosophical circles where this sort of fine distinction is usually relevant.

Re:Contra-proof positive? (1)

ACNiel (604673) | about 9 years ago | (#12133697)

Unless you start to whole epistemic discussion, and realize the sky really has no color at all, since there is no property that is blue or red.

Then the fun stuff starts to happen.

This article has no point. (4, Informative)

Evro (18923) | about 9 years ago | (#12133370)

"Dude, you're giving IBM free shit... they're not going to return the favor."

Except they have? Article looks like flamebait/trolling to me, or else just ignorance.

Re:This article has no point. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133404)

You're right. IBM has given a lot of shit away for free.

Re:This article has no point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133609)

I'm sure this article was originally posted under their 'troll' authors byline.

Postgres? (3, Insightful)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | about 9 years ago | (#12133374)

I couldn't disagree more with the author of this piece, since I think the success of Postgres & MySQL are already contra-proof positive, but the piece is still an interesting read.

For MySQL you could be right, but Postgres? It's not backed by a commercial group as is MySQL, and while it can be seen in a LOT of commercial (enterprise) situations, it's still a tiney speck compared to it's commercial backed friend MySQL (even though it is much more of a "real" db).

Re:Postgres? (1)

HyperChicken (794660) | about 9 years ago | (#12133426)

I'd say PostgreSQL is more likely to be "plays back into the hands of the traditional behemoths that dominate the industry" since it's under the BSD license instead of something like MySQL.

Re:Postgres? (1, Insightful)

BigGerman (541312) | about 9 years ago | (#12133727)

Mods, this is not a flamebait.
The guy mentions couple of facts and states his opinion. Come on.

Re:Postgres? (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 9 years ago | (#12133759)

Which makes PostgreSQL a far better counterexample. The article argues that, without a successful company backing an open source DB, it will fade away and thus can't be used to develop `strategic' applications. The fact that PostgreSQL has developed to its current point without a commercial backer is a direct indication of this.

A database company exists to sell copies of a database. If they produce a perfect database, then they can sell a finite number of copies, and then go out of business (or, they can switch to a subscription pricing model). Their business model revolves around adding features and then trying to persuade customers that the features are worth money. If the database they have lacks a single feature that a potential customer needs, then they will go to someone else (and the DB company may implement that feature once they realise that the lack of it is costing them business). This is how off-the-shelf commercial software works. If a customer buys their RDBMS, and then later discovers that it is missing a feature that they need (perhaps one that they didn't need when they purchased the system), then they can either buy the latest version (assuming it adds this feature) or they can migrate to a competitor's product (often difficult and expensive).

A company that chooses to base its `stategic' systems around PostgreSQL (for example) doesn't pay anything initially. If they find that there is a feature missing, then they can employ someone to add that feature. If the database is particularly important to their survival then they can fund one of the lead developers for (say) one day a week to ensure that their feature requests and bug reports receive a high priority.

software obsolescence (sp?) (5, Insightful)

kfstark (50638) | about 9 years ago | (#12133387)

If you are making strategic decisions about software at your corporation, you had better take into account that the software may no longer be supported in the future. This applies to closed source and open source projects.

The benefit of open source is that if the original corporation writing the code stops supporting it there may be a community behind the software that will continue to support it as you transition. Also, another company may spring up with the same codebase.


Can someone explain the MySQL license? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133395)

Despite reading a lot of material online, I still don't understand the MySQL commercial license. Can someone explain to me:

1) If I use it within my company for internal database, do I need to pay for a commercial license?

2) If I write & sell software (say PHP/MySQL database application), do I need for a MySQL license even though I don't distribute MySQL itself?

Re:Can someone explain the MySQL license? (1, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 9 years ago | (#12133810)

MySQL, including the client libraries are GPL'd. This means that any code that links against them (i.e. anything that interacts with the DB directly) must also be GPL'd. If you do not distribute your code in binary form, this is probably acceptable to you. If you are creating something for a single customer, then this is probably acceptable for you. If you are creating something for multiple customers, and do not wish to give them distribution rights, or for some other reason the GPL is not acceptable to you, then you will need a commercial license.

You should also look at PostgreSQL (a better bet if you need anything other than high throughput data reads), which is BSD licensed, allowing you to do more or less anything other than claim you wrote it or sue the creators if it breaks.

Where's the surprise? (5, Insightful)

the_mighty_$ (726261) | about 9 years ago | (#12133397)

the more it is adopted at a strategic level, the more it plays back into the hands of the traditional behemoths that dominate the industry

WHAT?!?!? You mean the "behemoths" can use open source too? How could this happen??!?! NO NO NO NO!!!!!

[Sarcasm off]Well what do you expect. Don't forget that opensource software != free software. of course the big guys will start using opensource too, now that they've started to see that light. What did anyone expect? Did you want to FSF to have a monopoly on opensource forever? I think not. I think the result of "big behemoths" switching to open source will be more secure software being delivered to end users. That's the whole point of OSS!

I for one welcome our opensource behemoth overlords.

Re:Where's the surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133622)

I think the result of "big behemoths" switching to open source will be more secure software being delivered to end users. That's the whole point of OSS!

Maybe so, but that is not the point of OSS. The point of OSS is to reduce duplication of effort.

What a contentless article (2, Insightful)

Karma Farmer (595141) | about 9 years ago | (#12133410)

I'll boil down the entire article to one sentance: "If you're implementing any type of 'strategic' software system, make certain you make sound business decisions when you choose the software."

Know what you're buying. Know who you're buying it from. Consider the entire lifecycle of the software solutions you're building. Oh, and there was a throwaway blurb about open source.

Cuts both ways... (1)

sinfree (859988) | about 9 years ago | (#12133414)

Isn't that typically called a two-edged sword, as opposed to a sword that cuts both ways?

Don't RTFA. It's a waste of time (2, Insightful)

sweatyboatman (457800) | about 9 years ago | (#12133419)

If this qualifies as an "interesting read", I weep for the future of humanity. You know it's bad when the Slashdot summary is just as informative as the actual article.

The central point seems to be that a company looking for an OSS product which is supported by a large company, will end up going with a large company's OSS product.

Oh, wow. Insightful +1

Re:Don't RTFA. It's a waste of time (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 9 years ago | (#12133731)

It's even stupider than that ...

The first premise stated is that there are too many (names just over a half-dozen) competing open-source databases, and that is too many to survive.

Last I looked, producing a database product cost a lot less than producing a new car - that doesn't stop manufacturers from producing hundreds of different cars a year.

Methinks the author of the article better look out for Simon (the BOfH) and his cattle prod.

IT Investment (4, Insightful)

MLopat (848735) | about 9 years ago | (#12133425)

I'm sure some of you may know, but many of you may be unaware that large enterprises need to be really choosy in the database solution that they use. Its not simply a matter of installing the cheapest DB. When you consider the sizable investment made by an IT department on the hardware and operating system platform, it really makes sense to invest wisely in the product that will actually retain all your company's data.

With that said, given the choice between installing a poorly supported, poorly documented open source database, or something like Microsoft SQL Server, its obvious which solution will let you keep your cushy IT position. Furthermore, as good as I have to admit MySQL is, it still does not have support for such common things as triggers, views or even basic stored procedures never mind data warehousing.

For these open source products to be taken seriously, the same sort of fundamental support and functionality will need to prevail as the costs of not having these far outweigh the monetary costs of the common retail solution.

Re:IT Investment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133456)

MySQL is soon to have support for those features but as you say overall documentation and support will stil lag.

Re:IT Investment (1)

corngrower (738661) | about 9 years ago | (#12133539)

I guess there are apps that require something like SQL Server or Oracle, and there are apps that don't require much beyond a plain old database, for which MySQL will do quite nicely. I'ld look at using an Open Source DB first. If I couldn't find the functionality I needed, then I'ld look to a DB such as Oracle or SQL Sever.

Re:IT Investment (1)

Welsh Dwarf (743630) | about 9 years ago | (#12133657)

Unfortunatly MySQL 4 does have triggers and views, and if you need more, their's always postgres or firebird.

Oracle has it's uses in large enviroments since it scales so much better.

Re:IT Investment (1)

Welsh Dwarf (743630) | about 9 years ago | (#12133678)

Sorry, forgot to add that as far as documentation is concerned, the OSS DB's are just as well documented as most commerical offerings (with Oracle set asside), so to be perfectly honest, your post amounts to trolling no less.


non-article (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133429)

Wow what a load. The punch line is that if you are planning enterprise scale projects you need to choose solutions that will last long enough to get a good ROI. Jimmy-joe-bob's high school DB project is a non-starter. JamesJosephRobert's small proprietary DB is also a non-starter. TFA misses the point: all things being equal you get more security if you have the source. The crux of the matter is that the definition of "equal" depends on your context.

Trust the vendor? (3, Insightful)

CaptainZapp (182233) | about 9 years ago | (#12133431)

Good grief; what a moron.

No doubt that there are valid reasons for a commercial database vendor. But that guy makes about as much sense as the drooling drunk at 2am in front of the seedy night club in the bad part of town when it comes to "strategic decisions".

Strategic decisions by definition are dangerous. When you decided on PeopleSoft 10 years ago this looked strategically sound. Until the good burgers from Oracle came along and bought them out in order to squash a competitor. By no fault of your own you are fucking fucked when you're a PeopleSoft customer.

Au contraire I argue that especially in the db market having source access to your database software is about as strategically valuable as it comes.

Sorry mate, but I have seen to many examples of customers being fucked over by vendors of strategic software and you can go and tell the PR department of { Oracle | Microsoft | IBM } that they are just dead wrong and for an "analyst" it's bad form to just reprint their spew.

Not that I accuse you of doing that, but your "analysis" leaves a strong stench of not being quite independant.

More hope with open source (2, Informative)

rescendent (870007) | about 9 years ago | (#12133446)

If your using a closed source database and the company that owns it goes down the pan you're just stuffed.

If its open, at least you have a chance to adapt and tinker to fix it.

Though in either case you'd probablly just go with a different provider.

OSS Strategy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133449)

This is bad news for open source enthusiasts.
Maybe this should have read "This is bad news for open source euthenists." Anyway, what's so bad about companies using OSS as a strategy?

Rubbish. (1)

berglin (846569) | about 9 years ago | (#12133452)

This article is simply rubbish.
The author claims that there are too many databases available.
Too many?

I could probably list more engines just from the top of my head that are sold by the "behemoths", as he puts it. Especially since the author also includes niche products.
And why would this argument apply specifically to open source applications?
Shouldn't you take the same care when implementing a "strategic" word processor? Would you use a spread sheet from an unknown supplier that you don't kow will be around in two years?

I would say that RedHat is a perfect example of an open source initiative that is used as "strategic choice" and why would this business model not work with databases?

Rubbish, I tell you.

Old FUD argument, easily discredited (2, Insightful)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 9 years ago | (#12133460)

The article is saying that there is no money in open source, so the developers could walk away at any time and leave you stranded with an unsupported product.

For those who didn't know redhat just posted record profits, and the share price just jumped about 12%.

There is certainly money being made in open-source. The difference is: open-source will not die without money.

Bloor's fundamental error (4, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | about 9 years ago | (#12133476)

is in the "these projects need to make money or they'll go away, leaving users stranded" premise.

First off, open-source projects don't need to make money. Secondly, if users are dependent on them, they don't go away.

The "problem" that Bloor describes is either a phantom or self-correcting, whichever way you choose to look at it.

Incompetent analyst (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133487)

"If we take the open source database market as an example, we have MySQL, PostgreSQL (both generically and from Pervasive), Ingres, Firebird, Max DB, Cloudscape, the putative Sun DB (possibly), HSQLDB and a bunch of others."

HSQLDB adn Cloudscape are nice products. However, if you believe PostgreSQL and Cloudscape/HSQLDB are in the same leage, you do not know much about RDBMS.

"Now, some of these are niche products but, even so, there are too many of them."

The same can be said about commercial sector as well. Sybase, Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, Ingress, Borlad(?)... others, there just too many of them!

Market will decide who survives.

Author has points (3, Insightful)

gone.fishing (213219) | about 9 years ago | (#12133512)

Damn straight - Open source software can be and should be strategic. When an enterprize selects strategic software they need to know that it will be around (and supported) for the long-haul. Millions of dollars could be riding on the issue.

So, in a large sense, I agree with the author and will even say that in some cases, there is justifiable concern for an enterprize to avoid open software solutions.

Having said all that, I'm far from opposing open source software in the enterprize, quite to opposite in fact. Products like MySQL and Apache prove that there is a lot of room and potential in big business for OSS.

Anyone -- including big business needs to do a sort of risk evaluation before settling on anything that has the ability to affect the bottom line. For a public company it is more than business sense, it is the law. They need to know that the people they bring in on a project can do what they say they can do and just as importantly, that they will be around tomorrow to fix anything that is broken or needs changing.

For this reason, the enterprize level open source market will probably grow through pretty conventional methods. Either there will be in-house expertiese or they will hire consulting firms with the skill, knowlege, and expertise to deliver. Those firms will in many cases be old, established, familiar names that recognize the need and make the right moves to get in the market.

This isn't bad at all. It brings OSS legitamacy.

Re:Author has points (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | about 9 years ago | (#12133852)

As noted elsewhere, there is just as much concern over wether a proprietary app company will 'be around' (eg not gone out of business). At least with F/OSS, you have the source, and can contract seperately for support, whereas with a proprietary 'product' if the vendor goes belly-up, you are SOL.

Toronto the nation-state (4, Funny)

epine (68316) | about 9 years ago | (#12133515)

This is the same view of Fortune 500 Enterprise that Toronto has of its role within Canada. Whether the other nine provinces have ceased to exist depends on who you ask.

Re:Toronto the nation-state (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133726)

Toronto is in Ontario ...

Canada as eleven province and two territory ... I think , not sure if Yukon did not become a province too ...

Alberta (Edmonton)
Nunavut (Iqaluit)
British Columbia (Victoria)
Ontario (Toronto)
Manitoba (Winnipeg)
Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown)
New Brunswick (Fredericton)
Quebec (Québec)
Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John's) Saskatchewan (Regina)
Northwest Territories (Yellowknife)
Yukon (Whitehorse)
Nova Scotia (Halifax)

http://canada.gc.ca/othergov/prov_e.html [canada.gc.ca]

http://canada.gc.ca/othergov/prov_f.html [canada.gc.ca]

Nothing new here (1)

Stone316 (629009) | about 9 years ago | (#12133577)

He hasn't stated anything special to opensource products that are different than buying commercially licensed products.

That means that at some point in the future the market will consolidate and a number of these products will disappear. This may not matter too much if the products are not that important to you, but it certainly does if they are strategic.

You have to consider the above no matter what product you choose whether its opensource or not. If I have 5 products i'm evaluating and one of the companies is on very shakey ground and may not surivive chances are i'm not going to consider it unless it offers something critical that I need that the other products don't.

I agree on one point tho which he eludes to at the end. More and more companies will offer freely licensable products and make their money off of support. Which in my opinion is the way it should be...

Why is this article posted today? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12133612)

April Fools Day was Friday!

Article is worthless. (3, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about 9 years ago | (#12133664)

Sorry but until the author of the article actually does something with FOSS in the corperate world and knows how it really works he's simply another idiot spewing worthless drivel on the street corner at cars passing by.

we hafe a few ATL tape library units here at the datacenter. upgrading PAST windows NT4 means we have to pull those units and throw them away. ATL refuses to release drivers for them for 2K or 2K3 and suggest "buy our new product".

great, over $180,000.00US investment in WORKING SDLT robotic tape libraries because the company wants to drive revinue by forcing new hardware purchases. yet Linux and a couple of other FOSS packages saved that and they are now working along happily in our datacenter.

So all that development we did to support the tape library robitic units was a waste? Programmer time is dirt fricking cheap right now compared to enterprise level hardware costs. we built the platform on FOSS parts, those were free to us, so why do we needto be greedy assholes and not give out what we coded that was BUILT UPON the work already done by others?

I reccomend that everyone ignore the article as a know nothing screaming about things he read in a trade magazine.... because it is missing huge pieces of the puzzle that many many of us use every single day to save money and INCREASE revinue of the company.

Summary of article w/o the holy FOSS rage (1)

Ingolfke (515826) | about 9 years ago | (#12133746)

If you're a business and you a DB that will be strategic to your success you will need support for it so if you're going to us an open source DB go with a DB supported by a large existing player.

DB or DBMS? (2, Interesting)

buckhead_buddy (186384) | about 9 years ago | (#12133767)

When I used to work for a database design company, we'd have the argument that "the person who confuses a database with a database management system" is obviously too ignorant of his trade to trust with your precious data. I note that this author confuses those terms in his article.

But putting aside that snippy, meaningless sales argument for a moment, we usually didn't care whether the client chose Open Source or Closed Source database tech (as long as we had someone on staff familiar with it). Our thought was that if we weren't paying for the tools we didn't care which system was chosen. We started to care after a custom van shop in Arizona wanted to use an all Microsoft platform (out of fear we'd abandon them and they wouldn't know what to do with this open source stuff). Being a startup though, they ran themselves in the ground and naturally our fees weren't paid due to the heavy fees they owed to Microsoft. After that, we'd push Open Source a little more if there was any sort of financial question about the company.

But the fact that we weren't a huge company did scare many clients. They were much more comfortable knowing that their cousin could fix something in Microsoft Access if we disappeared from the face of the earth, but they wouldn't have any idea what to do with a PostgreSQL data repository. This usually meant that either we'd use their preferred closed source tools or we'd create some extra tools for them for free to dump the repository to csv and tab separated formats.

Inevitably someone would ask me, personally, which dbms I thought was a better investment. I always loathed that question (since I was a programmer and not a salesman). But it usually came down to which programming environment I preferred and which environment I thought the salesperson had recommended. But looking back on it, if you were hiring our team to design the database that's where most of your expense would be. If you wanted to pay additional money to Microsoft for the database that was fine, but it wasn't going to reduce our costs any.

How enterprises will accept F/OSS (4, Insightful)

blackhedd (412389) | about 9 years ago | (#12133770)

I recently chaired a panel discussion on enterprise open-source, attended by representatives from several dozen Fortune 500 companies, and we turned the discussion back on them at one point. Turns out that:
1) all had made a "commitment" to open-source products;
2) almost none had done anything strategic up to that point (they all had a little Linux and a little Apache/MySQL floating around here and there, of course)
3) NONE were interested in the cost-reductions available with F/OSS
4) ALL were interested in the advanced technology which they felt was probably more available from F/OSS then from incumbent vendors
5) ALL were holding back waiting for better support options.
There was a lot of discussion about the latter point, including some really fascinating suggestions that belong in another discussion. But for here and now, the key thing is that you don't necessarily look for support for OSS DBMSs from the developers. Something like the Pervasive model is interesting, as long as they continue to maintain close ties with the developer communities. But OSS support is a service business, with linear cost-scaling characteristics, so we will need a lot of vendors to pitch in. I think it's a nascent large opportunity.

Wishful Thinking (1)

lal (29527) | about 9 years ago | (#12133826)

Read this for what it is: the wishful thinking of a soon-to-be unemployed industry pundit. He wishes that CA and IBM would take over the open source database market, because they have the marketing dollars to feed companies like his (the Bloor Group - an IT consulting firm).

Unfortunately for him, the new open source companies don't need to be behemoths, because they don't require the huge sales and marketing overhead of traditional companies. MySQL and PostgreSQL don't need to pay consultants and marketeers to shill their products for two reasons: they already have killer word-of-mouth, and anyone can try their product for free and verify any performance claims firsthand.

By taking multi-million dollar licensing deals away from the database market, open source databases will take the food from the mouths of parasites like this guy. Just ignore his last gasps.

Author confused about open source (2, Insightful)

Spinlock_1977 (777598) | about 9 years ago | (#12133844)

Not all of the companies involved will be able to make enough money out of these products to stay in business. That means that at some point in the future the market will consolidate and a number of these products will disappear.

Complete bullshit. The companies will disappear, but the product will live on in sourceforge (or where ever), exactly oppositite of what this inexperienced author says. Every customer of the product will have a copy of the source, which at least allows them the option of continuing development and support internally. This simply cannot be said for closed, commericial software.

my take on this (1)

khallow (566160) | about 9 years ago | (#12133859)

First, this article was very unclear, I see several different opinions already on what the author really meant. This is just another opinion.

My take is that the author is really talking about consolidation of many major open source projects into a few and that this consolidation is going to be driven by large corporations. I see some reason in this. Many OS projects have conflict at some level. You can't gracefully merge postgres and MySQL or Gnome and KDE. At some point, business is collectively going with a few products. Consolidation has happened with Apache and the GNU/Linux combo, for example, with a little help from big biz. There are other OS projects out there, but they don't have the user share.

I guess the author is saying that big corporations will influence profoundly what projects make it or don't. So if you're involved in the design of an OS project, he probably would recommend that you should consider ways to make the product more appealing to big businesses so that they support your product instead of a rival. The boost might make the difference between whether your project survives or not.

I think though that OS projects that were successful in the past will be supported by big business as well. If you have a project that fills a need and is pretty solid, using the program doesn't create any parasitic dependencies, and if your project community is well organized, harmonious, and active, then it's probably going to get support from business sooner or later.

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