Why I will not sign the MySQL petition

DISCLAIMER: This post is my PERSONAL opinion.

I am quite sure that I will get a lot of angry flames for this post, but I am not going to sign the petition to “save MySQL”.

I strongly believe in community. In transparency. In openness. I hoped that the fight of Monty Widenius would be about exactly that – making sure MySQL becomes the Open Source database engine for the Free world. Making sure a vivid, creative, open community of users, developers gather around MySQL and make it better.

It seems however that this is not what the petition is about. Here some quotes that leave me with mixed feelings:

http://www.helpmysql.org/en/theissue/gplisnottheanswer

MySQL’s database server has traditionally been a product developed and maintained by a single company, not a community project depending on volunteers or on multiple vendors (like Linux).

Well – at least they don’t hide it. But the wording is misleading. It implies that an open source project is either run by a company or by volunteers. This is so wrong that I have a hard time not loosing my temper. Take a look at AMQP. It is a quite good ecosystem around a defined standard. With several implementations. Some of them Open Source, some not. Or take a look at the Linux kernel. Most of the contributions come from people who are actually paid to do this work. Some of the devleopers are employed by Red Hat, some by IBM, Novell, Intel etc.

A real Open Source project is about making something better for the good of all users. Not only for customers. And distributing the development across several companies reduces the risk for every participating entity. So the more the merrier.

However, for MySQL it seems the world is different:

Those who wanted to incorporate it into or enhance it with closed-source products without having to publish their entire derived work on GPL terms (which would practically preclude them from many commercial opportunities)

Let me tell you, this is not correct. Red Hat can pay its employees by generating revenue based on the GPL. I would say that Red Hat does quite well with that business model. Look at the stock price.

And if MySQL would be so succesfull with their dual licensing strategy, why did they sell themselves to SUN anyway?

There is a lesson hidden here: If you sell something, you don’t own it any longer. MySQL is now SUNs business. And if SUN decides to sell themselves to Oracle – it is their business. If the MySQL founders and fanboys don’t like this, they simply shouldn’t have sold MySQL to SUN in the first instance.

So we have two possible solutions here. My preferred solution: Oracle takes over SUN and puts MySQL under a single license, the GPL. It also declares all relevant “Intellectual Property” to be licensed Royalty Free up- and downstream.

Second best solution: The (former) MySQL people do what Open Source always offers: Fork. Let the best implementation win.

The current plan offfered in the petition however is based on exclusiveness, something that I refuse to accept. And that is why I personally will not sign the petition the way it is.

To all that quote me, let me repeat again: THIS IS MY PERSONAL OPINION.

CC BY 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

20 thoughts on “Why I will not sign the MySQL petition”

    1. Red Hat has no official position AFAICS. Why should Red Hat interfere with a “normal” merger? Oracle buys a lot of companies, this one is a bit bigger, but not really that special 😉

  1. I pretty much agree and I also have NOT signed the petition: my point is, even Monty agrees with that, the purpose is not the save the code, as it is already guaranteed Free by the GPL, but to save the business model. Honestly, *I do not care* about the business model of some software company working on proprietary products.

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  3. Most of the Free Software community is looking at the Free Software angle only – which is fine. EU is not investigating MySQL because a proprietary company is buying a Free Software company, but a database vendor is buying its competitor whereby eliminating choice for database customers. I don’t agree with everything Monty says, but EU regulators has to consider the effect on database market and monopoly.

    MySQL and Red Hat offer two differents models of making money with Free Software. Both of them have their own merits and caveats. Red Hat’s model is successful does not necessarily mean all Free Software businesses should follow this model.

    I have not signed the petition, I’m not sure yet.

    1. I am not saying that all should do as Red Hat does. However – I do strongly feel that the MySQL petition is not serving the needs of the community at large and I therefore have decided to not sign.

  4. If you sell something, you don’t own it any longer.

    Disclaimer: I work for Oracle.

    However, I am so infuriated by some of Monty’s statements which are just laughable and blatantly untrue.

    Clearly Oracle are a database company and MySQL is a database, so I can see the obvious scope for a monopoly and a conflict of interest which the EU commission are rightly looking into.

    However, Monty wants his cake (his part of the $1 billion when MySQL was sold to Sun) and now he wants to eat it but somehow trying to continue to exert control.

    MySQL can be forked. Monty may well believe that a fork wouldn’t be successful or a sensible move but that isn’t the point. He could fork it. I could fork it. Anyone could fork it.

    Strictly speaking, it wasn’t even a question of Sun choosing to sell to Oracle – it was a listed company and could have been the subject of a hostile takeover.

    Finally, I hate to say it but Monty and a lot of these Open Source zealots are deluding themselves. Oracle did not buy Sun for MySQL. Oracle did not buy Sun for the hardware division. Oracle bought Sun for Java.

    Disclaimer: All my personal opinion and in no way related to that of my employer.

  5. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who got a queasy feeling reading that.

  6. I will not sign the petition because my job is to make the deal cleared unconditionally 😉

    But divesting myself of my Oracle’s counsel hat, I would not sign it anyway. I joined the dispute because I disbelieved the case against the merger, and not the other way round (this is IMHO the difference between advocating and being intellectual prostitutes).

    You are right, as we discussed before all this erupted: the dual licensing model is doomed to extinguish itself anyway, and already Sun is keeping it only because of the OEM developers that rely on “exceptions” like RMS quite rightly calls them.

    One point that nearly everybody misses (and you apparently don’t) is that the petition is there to keep those exceptions, not to keep MySQL a Free Software project. The proponents would dislike a solution like “Oracle pledges under the unbreakable wow [0] that it will accept any meaningful external contributions without asking for copyright assignment under the GPL v.3 and cease any proprietary license”. Which is my wildest dream and should be that of any real Free (open source) Software advocate (or zealot, and indeed I think I can be called a zealot).

    Meanwhile, I will be mildly satisfied with Sun not being broken up and MySQL remaining under a copyright arrangement where forks are not only possible, but feasible. An arrangement where only Oracle could proprietarize it — and it will NOT, it would be foolish and pointless, and anyway contrary to its own pledges — instead of many, as the suggestion to put it under the Apache License would imply.

    At the same rate, the solution to assign the project to an external entity with Oracle paying its development is intriguing. But nobody has a right to demand it if the legal premises are not met. These conditions must consist of the incompatibility between the merger and a competitive market in a merger control case. This is what we are discussing now, and nobody has given the faintest evidence the the conditions are even arguable, let alone “met”.

    The rest is just rubbish.

    This is also just my personal opinion.

    [0] one should be conversant in Harry Potter to really understand what it means. (C) JK Rowlings.

  7. I won’t be signing Monty’s petition.

    To be frank, I don’t know if Oracle’s takeover of MySQL would be good or bad. Their past history implies that things will carry on as normal, but that’s no guarantee of future behaviour. They *might* be trying to buy it to bury it.

    And that doesn’t concern me. The GPL version is available, and will continue to be available – I could host the project myself, if no-one else wanted to. If it’s a useful project – as I believe it is – developers *will* submit changes. So the Free version of MySQL is safe, for just as long as the world sees it as valuable.

    The bit that is at risk is the commercial version. I’m not as bothered about that as I might be – it doesn’t affect me personally, and commercial users already have options should their DB supply dry up. There’ll be some pain, sure – that’s the cost of making proprietary software.

    So why do I object to Monty’s petition? Because it’s intended to work against my interests. It won’t help MySQL. It will only help predators take control of the codebase – people, for example, who have already sold the product, and now want to regain control over it without paying back all that money.

    This petition isn’t about helping MySQL, it’s about helping Monty’s bank balance, and that misrepresentation alone is enough to make me campaign against the petition.

    Vic.

  8. What Monty Widenius is doing borders on extortion, same as SCO – “do what I want or I’ll make your life miserable.” No wonder he had problems at Sun.

    I trust Oracle and the GPL far more than I trust someone who engages in such tactics.

    The petition itself is also dishonest, since it doesn’t give a chance for people to say “none of the above”.

  9. Why is bon ton these days to rant about how the GPL is making business difficult (ESR earlier, the Mono(Develop) guys from Novell and now Monty), though there are ample examples of the contrary?

  10. You mentioned RED HAT as an example of making money selling GPL software, that is not correct, RH sell maintenance and support contracts, not GPL software.

    The trouble is see it is, someone sold MySQL to SUN made some good money, now they want to take it back.

    You sold it, you no longer own it, and it was sold to a publicly listed company, that as someone said, could be subject to hostile takeover, or buyout.

    What would of happend if MS made a hostile takeover of it and killed MySQL. ?

    As far as I can see, when SUN paid the money for SQL they purchased the copyright for it as well, if they own the copyright they have every right to re-license MySQL any way they like, THEY OWN IT.

    IF submitters have been required to give up their copyright, and they still contributed anyway, more fool them. You’re working hard in your precious time to make a product more valuable for a publicly listed company.

    If you’re listed, you HAVE to focus on making money for you’re stock holders, otherwise, you risk being taken over.

    If MySQL is work a certain value, and oracle included that in their purchase price of MySQL then Oracle OWNS it, lock stock and barrel.

    So like bitkeeper they can change the licence and close the source.

    And if you gave up the copyright of the original source, the GPL is not going to help you, and if you folk it when why would you not be in breach of copyright?

    Red Hat listed on the stock exchange at $42 dollars, they are about $30 now, so until RH at least reaches their list price, I cannot say that RH is a GPL success story, No company makes their money from SELLING ONLY GPL code.

    Many companies maky alot of money supporting and USING Open Source, but the business model for the actual product of Open Source is non-existant.

    There is no “Microsoft” equivalent for Open Source, creating code and selling it.
    Therefore there is little incentive for FOSS to create product that people are willing to buy, Free is not enough clearly.

    Also finally, Roy Schetowitz is not highly influential, he’s a nobody troll, that hates anything that RMS hates, he’s doing more damage to the FOSS community that almost anyone else I can think of, apart from mabey RMS.

    GPL has massive problems, that are slowly coming to light, it’s clear its incompatable with business and finance.

    You gotta sell product to be commercial, FREEDOM is not something business or corporations are the least bit interested in, Unless it’s THEM getting stuff for free.

    Thats the ONLY reason Google, and the likes love Open Source, thousands of programmers giving away their code for free, is far better than paying someone to do it.

    If you’re a company like SUN and you are paying programmers to write FOSS, and someone comes up and offers their services for free, and willing to sign over copyright. What company would turn that down.

    17+ years FOSS has been going, and still this most basic of concepts seems to be holding you’re back a massaive amount.

    Any company or software manufacture is ONLY AS GOOD AS THEIR LAST VERSION that means in ONE version if you create a product is better, it will be a huge success.

    If not, youll become stagnent and that appears to be where FOSS has gone.

    Ive been waiting for 15 years for FOSS to improve, I used to use RH 7.1 it was ok and better than Win95, but 15 years later, we have Win 7 which is excellent, Office 2010 also excellent, millions of users, hundreds of thousands of readily available applications. And true plug and play.

    15 years later FOSS is still trying to push the same ol same ol, a few kernel versions, no kernel re-write EVER. and patch upon patch upon patch.

    But nothing good, new or innovative really seem from FOSS in the past 15 years, it seems FOSS in far too interested in politics as opposed to Quality Assurance, and functionality, and useability.

    Linux still looks rough, and that is a massive shame.

    Oh and MySQL is little more than a GPL’d version of DEC’s SQL, so it’s really a knockoff anyway… No innovation applied by FOSS, that ive seen.

    1. First, I never said that Red Hat *sells* GPL software. As you correctly say, the subscription model we use allows us to generate revenue without any need for changing licenses or dual licensing. In that sense we make our revenue based on GPL software. Without the Open Source communities, Red Hat wouldn’t even exist.

      Red Hat nowadays employs some 3000+ people, all over the world. Has offices everywhere and is almost debt free. I do call that a success. Our stock price doubled in the last 12 months, where the rest of the market had big problems.

      Red Hat *is* a success story.

      And if Open Source would be so stagnant and bad as you claim, why is Apache running the majority of web servers? Why is Firefox used by so many people? Why does almost every DSL router and almost all ebook readers run on Linux? Why is the mobile market either using Linux (Android, Nokias Maemo) or opensourcing their stuff (Symbian)?

      Jan

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