Changes at MySQL draw fire from community

MySQL this week made it harder for developers to use the enterprise edition of its database software for free, sparking criticism from the MySQL community.

MySQL has made it harder for developers to use the enterprise edition of its database software for free, sparking a debate about whether the company has strayed from its obligation to its open-source community.

Kaj Arno, MySQL vice president for community, announced in his blog last week that the company will no longer host the code for MySQL Enterprise Server in binary form on its public FTP servers, and will offer that version only to paying customers.

The goal is to make it clearer that the enterprise edition is aimed at paying customers, who also receive support and other services, and that another version of the product, MySQL Community Server, is for developers who use the software for free, he said.

The source code for MySQL Enterprise Server will still be freely available from the MySQL Bitkeeper repository, but not as a single, executable file, also known as a "tarball," which means it will take more time and effort to install.

The change conforms with the terms of the open-source GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2) that MySQL uses, Arno wrote, "something that we've verified with the FSF (Free Software Foundation) to eliminate any doubt."

Nevertheless, the change sparked criticism. Some developers said MySQL should maintain free access to the enterprise product, since the MySQL community helps to test and develop the software voluntarily. Others argued that MySQL has a right to make business decisions that allow the company to make more money.

The move may comply "technically" with the GPL, "but it doesn't seem to fit with the spirit of open source," MySQL developer Mike Kruckenberg wrote in a blog post about the changes. "When I think open source I think freely available source, not source I can get once I've paid for a license."

He speculated about a "MySQL master plan" to eventually close off the source code for its enterprise product and "cripple" the community edition, forcing all users to pay for the software.

Kevin Burton [cq], CEO of the Internet company Spinn3r, which uses MySQL in its business, said the changes will achieve the opposite of MySQL's goal. "It's just going to make it harder for the Open Source community to work with MySQL and end up pushing them into the hands of PostgreSQL," a rival open-source database, he wrote in his blog.

But others were more sanguine.

"I don't see this [being] as much of an issue as some of the open-source zealots and evangelists are making out," said Andrew Poodle, the founder of the U.K. MySQL user group. "MySQL aren't closing the code, they aren't becoming 'evil', they are just separating out their commercial side of the business from the community side of the business."

The concerns over the changes stem partly from the fact that MySQL introduced new features to the Community Server that made it unstable, Poodle said. The idea was to test and debug the new features before they were added to the enterprise product, but it led to a perception that the enterprise edition is better and more stable.

But MySQL addressed that problem with another part of its announcement this week, Poodle noted. MySQL's Arno wrote that new features will no longer be applied to a current general-availability version of the Community Server, to ensure its stability. Instead, they'll be added to alpha and beta releases of the product.

"MySQL is a business, and I don't believe anyone at the FSF or anyone who supports the GPL would say that making money, even out of open-source software, is wrong," Poodle said.

Arno respondedto the criticisms himself Thursday afternoon.

"I argue that while this may feel or appear like a step away from open source, the real effect on the core MySQL community member is minuscule," he wrote. "And this is by design. We don't intend for the change to adversely affect core MySQL community members' usage."

He added that the company had "no intention" of moving MySQL Enterprise Server to another license. "Yes, we are evaluating GPLv3 instead of GPLv2, but our plan is for both Community Server and Enterprise Server to remain GPL," he wrote.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?