MySQL licensing redux

A follow up to one of the more divisive announcements made at the MySQL Conference. From the 451 Group Blog:

After all the fuss it appears that MySQL will be remaining open source after all. As Kaj Arno and Monty Widenius report, Marten Mickos announced at CommunityOne that the MySQL Server will stay open source, as well as the forthcoming encryption and compression backup features, which MySQL had considered making available only to paying customers.

“The change comes from MySQL now being part of Sun Microsystems. Our initial plans were made for a company considering an IPO, but made less sense in the context of Sun, a large company with a whole family of complementary open source software and hardware products,” writes Kaj.

“My hope is that the experiment when it comes to closed source extensions developed by Sun is now ended. As far as I know, there is no existing plans for any closed source extensions to the MySQL server,” adds Monty.

While that seems pretty clear cut, there is still room for a little confusion. Kaj writes: “To financially support MySQL’s free and open source platform, we have a business model which allows both community and commercial add-ons, and we remain committed to it.”

Monty clarifies: “I interpret this, in the context of Mårten’s and Jonathan’s announcements, that we will continue to support and make available commercial addons to the MySQL server from third party, like the Infobright storage engine. Things that we develop ourselves at Sun, at least on the server, will continue to be open source.”

It was always made clear that the decision to ship closed extensions was made before the Sun acquisition. It’s good to see that Sun stepped up, listened to feedback and changed this. It may have made sense for a company looking to IPO, but it doesn’t make sense for Sun. While it’s now clear that Sun-shipped server code will now be open, they also made it clear that 3rd party commercial extensions will continue to be embraced. I see that as a good thing. The “at least on the server” qualifier does leave the door open for something on the MySQL periphery to be closed, but that’s been the case for a few years now (MySQL Monitor for instance). If you’d like to know more about the announcement, Monty has posted his opinion:

I was yesterday attending the “Open Tuesday” Sun & MySQL event. One of the first questions I got from the audience during my questions & answer session was what is my take of the recent MySQL proposition of having closed source parts/modules in the server.

I was very happy to be able to say that Mårten some hours earlier had announced on CommuntyOne that the MySQL server is and is always going to be open source.

It’s very good to see that Mårten is continuing to be responsive to the MySQL community and to the MySQL customers. Thanks to Mårten for doing the right thing! Thanks to the MySQL community for expressing their opinions!

Monty also posted a very good (and honest) assesment of the MySQL Conference here.


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