Incoming!

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Wow, it’s May! Time has flown.

It has been a while since I gave an update on MariaDB progress and what we’re doing at Monty Program, and so there’s a lot to catch up on!

In February the employees of Monty Program had a company meeting in Reykjavik. This was prior to the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, so if you were affected by the eruption, I guess you can blame us. :)

In April we attended the O’Reilly MySQL Conference, where many employees gave talks and others staffed our booth in the Expo Hall.

At the end of April my wife and I took a (well-deserved) 10 day vacation in the Dominican Republic. It was a much needed battery recharge.

I mention these events because I was responsible for planning them in the first two cases, and offline for the third. Meeting and conference planning is really time consuming, so I offer this as a reason (or perhaps an excuse) as to why I have not been a more active blogger.

That changes now. I’ll be making a series of posts designed to bring you up-to-date on what’s happening with MariaDB and Monty Program. To readers of the Planets to which I am syndicated (GNOME, Ubuntu, MySQL, etc) I apologize in advance if you considering my multiple posts “spammy.”

RIP Ed Roberts

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Ed Roberts, one of the founders of MITS and a pioneer of the personal computer revolution, died yesterday.

I remember seeing the Altair 8800 on the cover of Popular Electronics as a kid, and being amazed that a computer could be so small. It seemed like Star Trek was coming to my living room. I was hooked and my journey had begun.

Being in Albuquerque makes this even more poignant. This is where it all began, and now part of it just ended. Thanks for the push, Ed. It’s been a great ride thus far!

Google’s “New Approach To China”

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This announcement is a big one. Wow.

Happy Holidays From Monty Program

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Santa baby, an RC release under the tree, for me
I’ve been an awful good boy
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa honey, a pro competition ruling too, hey EU
I’ll wait up for you dear
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the fun I’ve missed
Think of all the 5.0 users gettin’ pissed
Next year I could be oh so good
If you’d check off my Christmas list
Boo doo bee doo

Santa honey, I wanna break and really this posting’s
A mistake
I’ve been an angel all year
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa cutie, there’s one thing I really do need, some speed
In bzr branch checkouts
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, I’m filling my stocking with a commit for SELECTs
Sign your ‘X’ on the line
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Come and trim my source code tree
With some optimizations written just for me
I really do believe in you
Let’s see if you believe in me
Boo doo bee doo

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, packaging
I don’t mean GZips
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry down the chimney tonight

(Apologies to Eartha Kitt.)

Save MySQL: Getting Some Facts Straight

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I’d like to clear up some misconceptions that have appeared in comments on various blogs, social bookmarking, and other fora in response to Monty’s recent call for action. Many of these have been repeated ad infinitum and it’s time to set the record straight.

1). Monty sold MySQL to Sun.

Monty founded MySQL Ab along with David Axmark. True. He and David then decided they’d like to pay their bills, and so to generate revenue, they decided to seek outside investors. As neither of them is highly experienced with such matters, they hired Mårten Mickos, who became CEO of MySQL Ab. At that point, Monty’s role in day-to-day business decision making dropped to almost zero. If any one person “sold MySQL to Sun,” it was Mårten.

This is not to say Mårten acted against Monty’s express wishes. Monty had great hopes for Sun’s stewardship of MySQL, and only became disillusioned after some time actually working for Sun. Mårten did the job Monty and David hired him to do, and in no way should my sentiments be construed as “blaming” Mårten. But saying it was Monty’s decision to sell to Sun is patently wrong. It was Mårten’s decision in concert with the outside investors he had courted.

2). Monty should live with the consequences of the sale.

Let’s use an analogy here.

Let’s say that Red Hat‘s investors and stockholders approve a deal to sell Red Hat to Google. (And just for fun, let’s assume one of the results is rebranding Red Hat Enterprise Linux as Red Goo. It’s my analogy.)

I think Mark Ewing and Bob Young would probably be satisfied with that decision, especially if it paid them well. This was the case with Monty and the sale of MySQL Ab to Sun.

Now let’s say that after a few years, Google is acquired by Microsoft.

Would Mark and Bob be pleased about the possible prospects for Red Goo? Would you tell them, “This is what happens when you sell a company?” Or would you, quite rightly, start being concerned about the future of one of the most important Linux distributions? And would you feel that Mark and Bob had reason to voice their concerns and try to do the best they could to serve their community of users, developers, and customers?

Even if you thought Microsoft had the best intentions for Red Goo, it doesn’t mean Mark and Bob have to agree with you. Even if you believe that Oracle has the best intentions for MySQL, that doesn’t mean Monty has to agree with you.

3). Monty got PAID! He’s rich, man! He sold MySQL Ab for a BILLION!

Monty has more money than me. He probably has more money than you. But remember, MySQL had investors. MySQL Ab had Mårten. To think Monty received US$1Bn is foolish. To think he received even a tenth of that is a mistake.

Yes, Monty got a payday. But it wasn’t what a lot of people think it was.

4. Monty sold his business, and now he just wants to get it all back for free!

Part one? True. Part two? Not so much.

Monty’s business was sold. He has now started a new business (Monty Program) and employs a lot of the former MySQL coders, as well as strange Free Software wonks (that’s me, for those of you keeping score at home). We all work on MariaDB, a fork of MySQL that does not have a pay-for “Enterprise Edition” and that actively seeks great contributions from the wider open source community.

Let’s say that Oracle buys Sun, and completely trashes MySQL. Who benefits?

Monty Program.

MariaDB will immediately become the de facto replacement in most Linux distros and in the minds of most people.

Let’s say Oracle has to sell the MySQL unit as part of the remedy for the EC’s concerns. Monty can’t buy it. As I said, he’s got money, but not that kind of money. And who would get hurt if Oracle sells it or does a great job stewarding the project in the future?

Monty Program.

Now, I like getting a paycheck. I want Monty Program to succeed so that my wife and I aren’t eating out of cat food tins at the bus station. But I also like principled people that care, really care, about the projects they love. And that’s why Monty is potentially hurting our business prospects by raising his concerns with the European Commission. He cares about the code he has worked on for 27 years. He cares about the companies that have built a business on that code. And he cares about the users of that code; be they Fortune 50 companies or your teenage brother running WordPress.

Part of me wants to slap Monty. I want our company to become the standard. Now.

Part of me wants to kiss Monty. He’s the kind of dedicated and thoughtful steward any project deserves.

Paul McCullagh discussed this thoughtfully on his blog this week.

5. Anyone can fork. You did. What’s the big deal?

Two words. “Embedded solutions.”

A lot of companies have embedded MySQL into products they sell. They’re not interested in releasing their entire software stack under the GPL. They buy licenses from Sun (and formerly from MySQL Ab) to allow them to embed MySQL into their products and not have to release all their source.

MariaDB, or any other fork, will never be able to offer this. Ever. We forked the GPL version, and so will anyone else. Your code depends on our code and you’re selling it to any interested party? You have to GPL every bit of code you sell.

I said it in my last post, and I’ll say it again. Forking saves the code. It does not save the business.

And as I also said before, and will reiterate, if Oracle is so certain that forks are the answer, why didn’t they just do that months ago and save themselves the headache? They could have forked MySQL, taken MySQL off the table, and avoided this whole EC inquiry. They didn’t. Think about that.

6). Just use Postgres.

Sure. Go tell Google that. Or Amazon. Or eBay. Or Craigslist. Or any ISP depending on cPanel to ease customer usage of internals.

Postgres is a great project. It delivers a a fantastic database server. I have a lot of people in the Postgres community I consider friends. So does Monty. And you know what, those people would be among the first to tell you that migrating to or from one database to another is not an easy task for large deployments with thousands of lines of customized code. They’d also tell you that Postgres is superior to MySQL for some things, and MySQL is superior to Postgres for others.

“Just switch to Postgres,” is not a solution for many people, primarily businesses that have built their products on top of MySQL.

Now, can we move beyond these issues to the larger issue at hand? If you think Oracle’s proposed acquisition of MySQL is probably going to turn out badly for the Free Software and open source communities, read Monty’s blog post and act. If you think it’s a tempest in a teacup, I respect your right to your opinion. Please respect Monty’s right, and if you wish to engage people on the subject, keep the preceding points in mind.

MySQL Needs Your Help, Now!

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My boss Monty has issued a call to action. It looks like the European Commission is set to rule on the Sun/Oracle merger, and Oracle has used its clout with its customers to generate a mass-mail campaign. So now it’s time for the Free Software community to do the same.

First, let me again say that I am employed by Monty Program, and so this request is not coming from a wholly disinterested party.

Second, the idea that Oracle should not acquire MySQL without limitations or conditions has been championed by such luminaries as Richard Stallman. While Eben Moglen wrote a missive on behalf of Oracle, his idea that any fork using GPL code has the exact same business opportunities Oracle has is, plainly, absurd. It shows a deep misunderstanding of how MySQL’s dual licensing has worked to build a viable business from Free Software. In short, Stallman “gets it,” Moglen does not.

Third, if Oracle believes the “anyone can fork it” argument, why did they not drop this whole matter months ago, saving themselves millions in revenue, and just fork it themselves? ZDnet published an article a month ago saying, “The longer this takes, the more money Sun is going to lose,” Ellison said at the time, insisting he wouldn’t spin off MySQL. Do I believe Larry Ellison is an astute businessman? You bet I do. So the fact he isn’t prepared to believe his own company’s “anyone can fork it!” mantra tells me something. It should tell you something, too.

Forking code saves the code. It does not save the business. Full stop.

Finally, read Monty’s post and act! Thanks!

Life Without Walls

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About a year ago Microsoft started an ad campaign with the tagline “Life without walls.”

A little help here, Microsoft? In a “life without walls” where exactly does one install Windows?

MariaDB 5.1 Beta Released

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In what is sure to the the most exciting release announcement of the day (ahem), Monty Program and the MariaDB community are happy to announce the immediate availability of a (mostly?) stable beta release of MariaDB 5.1!

This is a beta. It may well have undiscovered bugs or features that are not fully baked. But the expectation is that we have fixed most of the issues like these, and so we’re looking to the broader community to help us get to a state where we can offer a Release Candidate. So start hammering on MariaDB, and be sure to report any bugs.

If you’re curious as to what we have baked into MariaDB 5.1, and what differentiates us from our upstream project, be sure to look over our guide to MariaDB vs. MySQL®.

If you want to dive right in, you can find source and binary tarballs on the MariaDB download page. And before you ask, yes, we are working on Debian and Red Hat packages. It’s a high priority.

Now, GO! Download and help us polish up an RC!

The “Global Database Market”

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Today the European Commission expressed their concern about Oracle’s acquisition of Sun, framed in the context of the database market.

What strikes me as particularly funny in the reportage on this story is many analysts’ claims that MySQL has a small market share. I’ll pick on Gartner here:

“MySQL has extremely small market share,” said Andy Butler, an analyst with IT research firm Gartner. “The E.C. is losing sight of the big picture and is bringing about a more anticompetitive situation by focusing on one product at the expense of the other moving parts.”

This quote is pulled from a Wall Street Journal article that posits, “Many analysts believe the commission’s focus on MySQL is misplaced. MySQL’s share of the $19 billion global database market is approximately 1.5%. It is dwarfed not only by Oracle’s database business, but by those of competitors such as International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).”

Gartner and the WSJ are looking at the US$19 billion global database marketplace. That’s an interesting approach, given that the vast majority of MySQL users don’t pay a cent for their software. So their usage does not factor into this US$19 billion market at all.

Now, an Oracle 11g license is not cheap. Every license Oracle sells is a major bite out of the US$19 billion global database market. Every user of the MySQL Community Edition doesn’t even make a nibble.

Forrester Research published a study in 2008 that showed that “MySQL has the highest adoption and growth. MySQL continues to have the largest mindshare in the open source database market and has the highest number of paying customers for product support: an estimated 16,000.”

Gartner themselves, Evans Data Corporation, and other industry groups have released similar findings; findings that MySQL and Sun proudly annouce. Indeed, look at the quote at the bottom of that page:

“The future of the database market will be the standardization on MySQL.” – Charlie Garry, Meta Group

Here’s a little informal, unscientific data. Look at Google Trends’ output for MySQL, Oracle 11g, Postgres, db2, and Microsoft SQL Server. It’s quite clear that Google is finding far, FAR more interest MySQL than for any other product among their searches. If MySQL’s market share is so low, why do Google search users search for that term so much more frequently (factor in the tens, if not hundreds, of times)?

With all due respect, I’d suggest Mr. Butler at Gartner read his own company’s reports, and when considering the “global database market,” do so without the blinders of capitalization. The world of business is far more nuanced than can be accurately expressed with a dollar sign in front of one’s research.

Monty Program At The CLS And OSCON

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In July several Monty Program employees attended the Community Leadership Summit and O’Reilly’s Open Source Convention (OSCON), myself included. While there we spoke to developers, partners, users, and interested bystanders of a number of SQL servers: MariaDB, MySQL, Postgres, and others.

The week started with the Community Leadership Summit. First, a big thank you to Jono Bacon for organizing a fantastic unconference, and allowing us to participate! Monty Program considers it our privilege to have helped to sponsor the event, and we look forward to attending and sponsoring it again in the future.

Being an unconference, the schedule is determined by the attendees. We scheduled a session entitled “What’s going on with MySQL?” to answer community questions about the possible future of the MySQL community. The session was very well atttended, with DBAs, developers, Sun employees, and Monty Program execs all in attendance. Also present was Bruce Perens, creator of the Open Source Definition, and Larry Rosen, author of the Open Software License and Academic Free License. To us, this was illustrative of the great interest by many community members in seeing the path Oracle chooses to take with MySQL in the future. Topics included possible scenarios, disaster planning for worst case scenarios, and best practices given Oracle’s relative silence with regards to their plans for MySQL (a topic addressed by Monty in a blog post earlier in July).

A video snippet of the session is available at Wikimedia. Have a look! (Requires a browser plugin capable of Theora playback)

On Sunday night the Postgres team had a release party for Postgres 8.4. Congratulations to the entire Postgres team! It’s a fantastic SQL server, and 8.4 has an impressive list of improvements. Monty and I were invited to the party, and we had a great time. There was a t-shirt auction, and Monty bought the t-shirt off Josh Berkus’ back. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you have seen Josh bare-chested, and a semi-inebriated Finnish hacker having nasal sex with his t-shirt. Classic. Thanks to the Postgres team for a really fun evening!

Postgres vs MySQL? The flame-war is a myth. Grow up. :)

There was a concerted attempt to recover for Monday morning, and the beginning of OSCON. It’s the premier open source conference, and we were delighted to have been invited to speak. Our talk was on Thursday, and was again well attended.

We divided our talk into three parts. First, I gave an overview of what MariaDB is, how the project works, our philosophy, and our methods. Second, Monty talked about the work we have done thus far, what’s already been incorporated into our MySQL fork, and what lies ahead. Finally, we opened the floor to questions. Thankfully a break was scheduled for after our talk, as the question period ran well over the session time limit. O’Reilly staff were very understanding, and graciously allowed us to keep using our session room.

One thing that was made clear is that we have not been communicating enough about exactly the kind of work we are doing. This is a failure on my part. In my defense, I have been somewhat reticent about pestering our development team for status updates, as I’m really keen on getting a GA release of MariaDB out ASAIMS (“as soon as it makes sense”). Mark Callaghan, one of our favorite users, was especially curious about what features and bugfixes we have implemented. He was quite cheerful about it, and declined to slap me for not being more communicative (thanks Mark!).

Some of these questions were answered in Monty’s portion of our presentation, and our slides are available from O’Reilly’s OSCON site. Grab the PDF and find out what we’ve been doing, and how we have been doing it!

Next week is our company meeting in Majorca, and I will be spending time with the dev team compiling a definitive list of what you can expect to find in the MariaDB GA release that is tentatively scheduled for later this month. I’ll blog about that as soon as I have the information, and also ensure it is put on the Maria wiki. Remember, we won’t release code we ourselves wouldn’t use in production. Thus, if the release date slips a bit, understand it’s because we’re committed to providing busy DBAs with production servers the very, very best.

Thanks again to Jono, the Postgres team, Tim O’R and Alison Randal at O’Reilly, and everyone else that made our week so fun and productive! And finally, apologies for the tardiness of this post. I have had house guests ever since returning from OSCON. :)

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