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Does Oracle Still Acquire to Injure MySQL?



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Summary: If Oracle tried this before, why would anything change?

IN ORDER to keep our stories sufficiently unique, we did not bother writing much about Oracle and Sun. Other publications did this to the point of fatiguing readers.



Having watched this deal closely for a week (and discussed it endlessly in IRC), one issue worth bringing up is Oracle's path of destruction against MySQL. They bought companies/projects that MySQL depended on. Observers must not forget this. They essentially bought some trouble and disruption for a competitor, proving that 'free' (unregulated) markets hardly work. It's a fantasy that permits (if not invites) corporate abuse and/or harassment.

So what can be concluded with respect to Oracle's plans for MySQL? They really deserve the benefit of the doubt, but people who are closest to the project (like Monty) should know better than all of us. Unfortunately, they are pessimistic.

No matter if MySQL forked, neglected by Oracle or who knows what, the project is likely to suffer from what Oracle did. Who benefits? Oracle of course, despite being the owner of MySQL.

The matter of fact is that MySQL gets disrupted, but Sun took the first hit at it by losing key staff. As John Dvorak put it:

The elephant in the room is MySQL. Exactly why Sun ever wanted to "own" an open source database manager is beyond me, and apparently beyond the open source community that only tolerated the situation because it had to.


From a perspective in Information Week:

If the MySQL team decides to scatter because Oracle doesn't look like the kind of place where they want to work, I don't blame them. And I'll blame Oracle for wrecking a perfectly good product.


From the community manager of OpenSUSE:

So what's going to happen to all this R&D? "So far, Oracle has been fairly quiet about their intentions regarding Sun's open-source projects," OpenSUSE Community Manager and former Linux Foundation evangelist Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier of Novell wrote eWEEK via e-mail.


And finally, says the SFLC quite dramatically, "fork well: it could be the last, best hope for community."

I have faced with much trepidation the news of Oracle's looming purchase of Sun. Oracle has never shown any interest in community development, particularly in the database area. They are the largest proprietary database vendor on the planet, and they probably have very simple plans for MySQL: kill it.

That's why I read with relief this post by Monty (co-founder of the MySQL project) this week, wherein Monty plans (and encourages others, too) to put their full force behind a MySQL “fork” that will be centered outside of Oracle.

Monty is undoubtedly correct when he says "I don't think that anyone can own an open source project; the projects are defined by the de-facto project leaders and the developers that are working on the project." and that "[w]ith Oracle now owning MySQL, I think that the need for an independent true Open Source entity for MySQL is even bigger than ever before."


Could the company's core people rebuild MySQL AB under a different banner outside Oracle? The MySQL trademark was sold to Sun and now it's Oracle's, but brand recognition can be re-obtained. Most of the code is GPLv2-licensed, but unfortunately not all of it because of extensions. This just comes to show why that business model which a few people call "open core" (or whatever) is utterly pointless and dangerous.

Oracle is not foolish though. If former employees of MySQL (some of whom have considerable capital because of the sale to Sun) regroup as an independent company and steal the engineers from Oracle, then Oracle loses. So Oracle won't allow this to happen. But how hard will Oracle try to improve MySQL? And why does it constantly avoid bringing up the subject (until very recently)?

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