back to article Meet the world's premier open source vendor - Sun

Almost five years ago, Sun's then CEO Scott McNealy told me his company had little intention of entering the great database fray. "You know, we haven't decided that is a war we want to go fight," he said. "Why not let them all beat each others' brains in?". By laying down $1bn for MySQL, Sun fattened its arsenal and flashed …


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  1. Alan Donaly

    I like it, MySQL AB

    were giving signs of being in distress they weren't growing, stuff like the closing off of the source for the enterprise version of their software to everyone except those who purchased it under the commercial license. SUN is not going anywhere anytime soon and it's good for business software to have a business making it. I also like the possibility of open office close integration with MySQL something I have been working on forever and I would love to see it done properly (please sun please with sugar we begs). As for SAMP it's still not Linux I don't understand it or how to use it, so I am not going to worry about it, make it work on all platforms from embedded to mainframe and I will take an interest.

  2. aaaa

    MySQL not Open Source

    MySQL has not been an open source database since version 3.23 (a long time ago now). Central to the MySQL approach to licensing is that it is only open source if your software is open source - meaning that ANY company who uses it is in violation unless they also license their software as FOSS.



    Once you understand that MySQL is not an open source database it changes the nature of the transaction with Sun - they now have a commercial database to offer, and will possibly enforce that licensing much more strictly since they can audit the use of the software on their own hardware and operating system(s): oh you appear to be using MySQL with an in-house built application - where is your commercial license for that?

  3. Jean-Luc
    Paris Hilton

    I'd be more impressed if...

    ... MySQL was a bona fide RDBMS. It might be, later. For now, it looks more like a CRUD engine that enables RDBMS storage. Good enough for 99% of websites, especially using ORM-based mapping. That's not all there is to databases though. Not by a long shot.

    Try giving MySQL a really complex update-TableA-fromTableB type of query. Coding those in an RDBMS execution engine is not trivial and it took DB2 and Gupta years to allow UPDATEs from subqueries. DB2 still opts-out under certain conditions - it tells you to go and rewrite your query.

    MySQL allows those types of queries all right. Whether it executes them correctly in _all_ cases is another thing entirely - I've seen it mangle relatively simple cases, on 5.x. Maybe Sun will clean that up? Or maybe Sun will just add another white elephant to its herd? Meanwhile, I'm porting to another FOSS RDMBS.

  4. Edward Ashley


    Would help if you could read your links before you post them, and read up on the GPL it's not that bad.

    Free use for those who never copy, modify or distribute. As long as you never distribute the MySQL Software in any way, you are free to use it for powering your application, irrespective of whether your application is under GPL license or not.

  5. John Latham


    The MySQL licensing page is misleading, IMO.

    It says "Free use for those who never copy, modify or distribute." This sort of implies that if you modify it, you have to release those modifications under GPL. This is not true, as I understand it. You can privately patch and fork MySQL to your hearts content, as long as you don't redistribute the changes. GPL as normal.

    And, of course, you are free to run a closed source application on top of MySQL, modified or not, without worrying about having to release that. It's only the modifications to MySQL itself that are affected by the licence.

    A key strategic advantage of open source is "if you don't like it, fork it". It means you are ultimately not tied to Sun at all, and also means that Sun don't really "own" the software, only the people who currently maintain it. In that context, a billion dollars is a lot, but then compared to multi-billion-dollar valuations of shitty Web 2.0 facespacebay crud, it looks like a good buy.


  6. andy rock
    Thumb Up

    @John Latham

    "compared to multi-billion-dollar valuations of shitty Web 2.0 facespacebay crud, it looks like a good buy."

    totally agree. MySQL will _still_ be worth something (Sun not screwing up taken into account, of course) in a few years time.

  7. FathomsDown

    Queue the cheese logos....

    I'm waiting for the "Designed to run MySQL" stickers to start appearing on Sun x86 servers! ;-)

  8. Dunstan Vavasour


    Nobody is under any illusions that MySQL is a highly efficient RDBMS engine for complex queries - it's a good enough implementation of a simple and fast bit bucket. I see what Babbage meant:,_Charles&Type=Q

    There's PostgreSQL for peeling pineapples.

  9. The Badger

    MySQL *is* Open Source

    According to MySQL AB's site, MySQL is available under the GPL or a commercial licence, meaning that in the former case, MySQL *is* Free (or open source) Software. As pointed out, "aaaa" should read up on copyleft and Free Software licensing since everybody knows that the GPL qualifies as open source, even if you'll never get RMS to use the term. The GPL is not a "permissive" open source licence, sure, but it's an open source licence nevertheless. Moreover, as also pointed out, if you don't distribute your application (eg. you're running a software-as-service, Web 2.0 kind of operation), you don't need to distribute your own sources, anyway.

    However, where it gets weird is on the "MySQL Open Source License" page where they say that even if you bundle their database, your application falls under the GPL. Now, I presume that this is because the official client libraries for MySQL (which you'd probably have to use) are also under the GPL, and so you become affected by the licensing of the libraries, but they're definitely employing smoke and mirrors here since client libraries under any licence wouldn't bind your application to the database system beyond some communications protocol, and I doubt that even the FSF would claim that the situation is another more than mere aggregation.

    As for whether the Sun buy-out is a good thing, perhaps the licensing message will be simplified and straightened out as a result: a good thing for potential users. Meanwhile, despite the reputation for mediocrity that MySQL has as a database system, perhaps the upcoming Falcon database engine is worth something as part of Sun's technology toolbox.

  10. Anne Bokma
    IT Angle

    It's cheap

    Consider putting an advertising campaign into effect that will be seen by as many people that download MySQL. Put a $ figure on that, now compare that to buying MySQL. Sounds a good deal doesn't it? and that is without all the other synergies at play. Very good move SUN keep it up, buy Apache next ;)

  11. Henry Cobb

    SAMP as in SAMPle

    The best next step Sun could do here is to offer SAMP install isos that make ordinary clones into database/application servers in a one step install for free,

    Then they offer service contracts for this and hardware bundles to instantly move your SAMPle application onto their big iron with the click of a button. Add in greater OpenOffice integration as a document storage and search server along with thin clients that can be locked down with Solaris tools and you've got a package that the users will download their first taste for free then buy into Sun gear to run their everything.

  12. douglas dooley

    Good one, Ashlee

    I also re-read your global domination by Google via MySQL article, and it was worth a good morning laugh; this one is spot on, though it will take some considerable training for Sun GSO to sell a database, as they are just truly learning to sell the app server...

    But in the context of a top-bottom web, identity, app, and database server stack, along with ESB, IDE, the only thing missing is a portal, but then again, who needs that...what a day: there were long-ago dreams of a BEA acquisition of Sun, in the go-go days of J2EE's beginnings, when iPlanet could not sustain anything (apologies)...

    Now, in a seeming coincidence (is there such a thing?), WebLogic finds a home, and Sun formally enters the software market; not since the formation of the Sun-Netscape Alliance has there been so much to think about from the Sun software offering: with an emmergent Java platform, combined with a relevant OSS strategy, and now MySQL, there are no excuses left, there is no more waiting, there is nothing to consider, other than execution...

    so many assets, so much goodwill, multiple options - - Jonathan, it is time to make this systems thing go...

  13. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Expecting it to be completely forked up!

    The owners of MySQL were the real winners, they were struggling to grow and innovate further and probably chose a good time to offload the business. But remember - Sun bought the people that maintain the support - there is nothing to stop the original owners or ex-employees simply forking the whole shebang and making a new MySQL clone. And nothing to stop Red Hat or Novell starting their own clone program....

    As for a Sun SAMP offering leading to massed Sun server sales, remember that IBM thought WebSphere was going to mean massive IBM hardware sales, but many customers chose other kit even when IBM offered preferrential and all-in-one deals.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @The Badger

    > but they're definitely employing smoke and mirrors here since client libraries under

    > any licence wouldn't bind your application to the database system beyond some

    > communications protocol, and I doubt that even the FSF would claim that the

    > situation is another more than mere aggregation.

    Actually, no. From section 1 of GPLv3:

    "For example, Corresponding Source includes interface definition files associated with source files for the work, and the source code for shared libraries and dynamically linked subprograms that the work is specifically designed to require"

    So if you need to link against (which you do if you want your app to be able to access a MySQL DB), your entire work must be released under GPL if you intend to distribute it.

    GPLv2 is slightly less clear (it doesn't refer to shared libraries explicitly), but it is clear to me that its intent is the same as the more explicit GPLv3; it specifically says:

    "This General Public License does not permit incorporating your program into proprietary programs. If your program is a subroutine library, you may consider it more useful to permit linking proprietary applications with the library. If this is what you want to do, use the GNU Lesser General Public License instead of this License.".

    Guess who got bitten by exactly this just yesterday...

  15. Morely Dotes

    All I can tell you is...

    I'd be running Sun hardware if I could afford it. I've used it before when it as purchased by my employer, and it has always been rock-solid and reliable.

    And for some weird reason I trsut Sun to not screw up MySQL. Can't say why.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nah, this buy had something else going for it...

    Nah. This sounds like one of those super secret moves to bolster another product. Perhaps Sun is tired of the old folks beating up Sun's middleware stack. BerkeleyDB only can do do much...

    Perhaps Sun's middleware stack will merge some code with MySQL now....

    Boyo! I'm so glad Sun didn't just up and buy Dead Rat. Oh the horror!

  17. Dave

    Linux already owes Sun lots

    Sun was already the largest single contributor to OSS before the MySQL buy. If it wasn't for OpenOffice/Java/Solaris my goose would have been cooked long since.

    What I can't understand is why so many Linux/OSS fanboys hate Sun. Talk about biting the hand..

    -Mr Open

  18. J

    Is SAMP any less genuine as an open source stack than LAMP?

    Indeed not, I think.

    And I wish them success and hope they grab some 10 or 15% of the market. In an ideal situation, no vendor would have much more than that and everyone would be forced to use REAL standards and things would interoperate and be cheaper. Like what happens in the automotive industry </end obligatory horrible analogy with car stuff>, and other ones too.

  19. Jeff Dickey

    @Henry Cobb

    Spot on about the ISOs; I had hopes that this would be the kind of thing that Ubuntu Server would be doing - boot an ISO and 20 minutes later you're serving xAMP to the omniverse... but I'd love for Sun to get there. Heck, it might even bring me back to doing Java again after the run-screaming-from-the-room experience that is JSF. Just-say-"f***-it" is the only expansion that works for me when I have to get things working in a hurry....maybe the "New Sun" can introduce a replacement.

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