back to article Sun may shut off high-end MySQL features

Less than two months into Sun Microsystems' MySQL acquisition, Sun has succeeded in upsetting the grassroots types with plans to close off features to the community. It's emerged Sun may release extra data back-up features in the Enterprise Edition of the next version of MySQL, due in Q4, to paying enterprise subscribers only …


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  1. Ash


    That last paragraph makes me want to donate to every GPL project i've ever made use of.

    First, to buy a Firefox t-shirt, but never wear it...

    Man with Glasses because... Nerd *Points at self*

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How's Staroffice doing?

    Seems that Open Office dominates not Star Office (Suns proprietary version of it).

    Likewise MySql will fork and the open fork will dominate.

  3. Robert Grant

    Knife or fork?

    Soo...rebel or just ignore? :)

  4. Steve Curry

    Further MySQL Explanation

    MySQL's Zack Urlocker has posted further clarification on his blog here:

  5. Andrew Moore

    Brings a tear to the eye...

    "Open Source software is raising havoc throughout the software market. It is the ultimate in disruptive technology, and while it is only 6 per cent of estimated trillion dollars IT budgeted annually, it represents a real loss of $60bn in annual revenues to software companies."

    As a regular contributor to various open source initiatives this makes me feel very proud.

  6. Tony Bryer

    A *real* loss?

    "it represents a real loss of $60bn in annual revenues to software companies."

    Um, no. It represents a notional loss, which would only translate into a real loss if it were the case that every free open source user bought the paid-for commercial offering instead. Which, patently, would never happen.

  7. John Macintyre

    er.. the point?

    "it represents a real loss of $60bn"

    Isn't the whole point of open source software so you have control to change it if you feel it needs it, thus contributing back (giving this amazing concept of community that money grabbing bastards just don't get as it != $$), and at the same time as it's built by people who know what they want rather people who are telling you what you should want, you get what you want for free, and can help others while you're at it. so I'd hope it would represent a real loss, it's not meant to make money.

    and yes, I fully intend to continue contributing to open source software until companies like sun screw them up, at which point I'll work with the community on spin-offs :) two fingers, you know who they're pointed at.

    Anyway that aside, if they do it right, they'll play it so that the 'enterprise' features are maintained and built by their own payed staff, so justifying charging, while the stuff the community builds stays open source. they'll just block anything that the community writes that counters that, and most likely knick anything that looks better than what they've already written.. watch out for lawsuits though i'm sure they'll drown it in t&c's

  8. Matt

    Bye bye

    MySQL is nice, but one of my main reasons for using it is I've got the option to use the free version for customers on a tight budget or supported for those with more dosh.

    If they go down this road I may as well use Sybase or DB2 if I want to pay, or perhaps Postgerss if I don't.

  9. dave lawless

    Great news

    MySQL is a toy, get over it

  10. Bob

    C'est la vie

    When the likes of Microsoft complain about copylefted software because they're not allowed to incorporate it in their proprietary products, my response is --- if you don't like it, don't use it.

    Well, this is no different. MySQL owned the code, and now Sun owns the code. They can do whatever they like with it (except un-license code they've already released under GPL). It is entirely within their rights to release a proprietary version of the code, as long as they own the code. That's just a fact of life of our IP laws and how copylefted software fits into them. So... if you don't like it, don't use it. There are plenty of other high quality open source databases available today.

  11. yeah, right.

    Here we go again?

    " represents a real loss of $60bn in annual revenues to software companies."

    Yes, because we all know that people who use open source would have purchased an equivalently powerful (and thus very expensive) proprietary version if the open source version didn't exist, rather than either doing without or buying a much less capable piece of software. This is just a rephrasing of the RIAA/MPAA fud that every song/movie copied would have resulted in a sale if it hadn't been available to copy. Which is utter, utter bullshit of course.

  12. Daniel B.

    Addons as payware shocker!

    So basically they're saying that some advanced backup options and other storage engines will be pay-up-front? I thought this was standard practice with a lot of products. Even some open-sourced ones have "extra" functionality which is payware.

    Anyway, lets see if this sends devs flocking to PostgreSQL ... which has been robust enough for years. Still, this move doesn't seem much of a bad move.

  13. Alan Donaly

    This doesn't exactly surprise me

    They were going in this direction before the buyout and Sun isn't one to make hasty decisions either way this is Mickos' baby and this is what he wanted to do (apparently). I don't think it's a good idea as I don't see how they intend to go head to head with Oracle and Mssql in the proprietary market. I will probably keep using it for a while longer but I am also rewriting for PG just in case.

  14. Nomen Publicus
    IT Angle

    Just the same?

    Isn't this exactly the same business model as used by Sendmail Inc. and many other open source companies. The sale of extended feature code finances the development and over time the extended features move into the open source releases.

  15. Simplepieman


    Anyone who's ever contributed even a single line of code, be it bug fix or new feature to MySQL I'm sure you feel the pain in your bollocks/eyes (delete as appropriate to gender) that I do in both mine.

    Some of us have paid not in cash but in development contributions over the past years. Fair enough - I haven't contributed for nearly 10 years, but I did, and part of what you're building on is mine.

    Who's the freetard now?

  16. v0dkacomrade

    Creation of monopolies...ala Microsoft?

    This is what I was talking about yesterday (or tried to anyway) in a post where I spoke up about the manual for Linux article posted on here. Open source software, Linux, etc is not an alternative to megacorps like Microsoft acting in a monopolistic manner. Look at what Sun is doing here, if you even remotely think Microsoft is some kind of "evil" corporation. You take away Microsoft from the world and Windows and all Mircosoft software with it, there will be dozens if not hundreds of other companies that would kill to have their spot. You think I'm wrong? Consider how Microsoft got to be where they are now. MySQL going closed (backup capabilities...come ON!). Next I expect to see MySQL only available via retail channels just like Microsoft SQL and Oracle. How nice. Now let's see if unlike yesterday The Register actually has the balls to post this because I do not support the "one world under Linux" or "freedom from Microsoft through open source" bullshit slathered all over this site. Get real, I thought we learned "one size doesn't fit all". I wouldn't have posted this here if my post to yesterday's missing manual for Linux had been... I love it, posts with the *F* bomb and every other form of swear word and personal insult get posted, but a well thought article about why trying to line up the world behind Linux "just because it's cool" is a stupid thing to do does not. Sorry for the seemingly unrelated rant everyone, but thanks to the Reg dropping my post from yesterday gotta fit it where I am allowed...I added some really cool immature cuss words too so I can sound just as cool as every other old grumpy Linux and UNIX IT "know it all".

  17. John Latham


    Bork the dorks and they will fork.

    Sun are, of course, entitled to withold enterprisey stuff. And man+dog (including Sun's competitors) are entitled to build free equivalents to plug the gaps, bundle those with the free stuff, and and win MySQL support business to fund their dev.

    This will be fun to watch.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple Solution

    Move to Postgresql, move powerful, quicker and easier to use. It was a no-brainier for our projects.

  19. Solomon Grundy


    No not really. MySQL was already headed down this path, but they had no business sense. Now that the product is owned by a business leader it will certainly change.

    As noted above, and as I have been saying for years. Put your hard work into the open-source "community" and watch as someone takes it for free and sells the hell out of it. Leaving you a bit poorer for your efforts.

    Instead of "contributing" to the commune why don't these open source people get jobs that pay them for their efforts? I just don't get it.

  20. Simplepieman

    @AC RE: Simple Solution

    I've said it before and I'll say it again - NO WONDER YOU POST AS AC. Please, anyone with any success with large-scale postgres systems that hasn't noticed serious performance hits hit me back. As much as some like to knock MySQL it is **the best** open source offering, if not the best full stop. I bench-tested the market 2 years ago and was blown away with MySQL and it's just got better.

    I'm with the forkers. They have a right to take it in one direction and we have a right to prove it got where it did through passion not dollars.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hardly supprising

    If they were going to remove anything and make people pay for it, it'd be backup. Databases are all well and good, but they are, in general, a right old bastard to backup and maintain service. Backup agents, database extractions, hot backup modes are all a pain in the arse, either at the point of backup or restore. The best way to make a database backup is a disk snapshot, but then you've go to shut down the database services to quiesce (can't spell) the disk. Oracle's hot backup mode is good because you don't need to stop the db, but still a pain in the arse.

    You want big database? You pay, you pay now!!!

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Opensource Spivs

    Anyone remember the early days of IMDB?

    Tens of thousands of people contributed for nothing, and then the bloke with the URL sold it as though it was his own.

    Anyone remember the early days of Redhat?

    Hundreds of people contributed for nothing, and then the bloke with the URL sold it as though it was his own.

    Anyone remember the early days of JBoss?

    Hundreds of people contributed for nothing, and then the bloke with the URL sold it as though it was his own.

    MySQL? Same old story.

    The way I see it, if you contribute anything for free you will eventually get shafted. Opensource projects just seem to be a cynical attempt to rip off naive students with time on their hands. At least Microsoft are open about their commercial interests.

  23. Chad Larson

    I don't understand the objection.

    "Anyone remember the early days of Redhat? Hundreds of people contributed for nothing..."

    Those hundreds of people knew exactly what they were doing, and had no expectation of recompense other than peer status.

    "... and then the bloke with the URL sold it as though it was his own."

    Which it was.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get a Grip

    The title of this story is clearly inetended to get everybody stirred up. Customers who want to pay for the additional features will do so. The ones who want to continue to use free tools or roll their own will do that. Selecting a product for some quasi-idealogical reason is nonsense. For all we know these new features may be so poorly received that they will end up open-sourced anyway.

  25. Patrick
    Gates Horns

    Saw this one coming!

    Wish I could say I have migrated off of MySQL, but still have a few projects on it. Moving them to PostgreSQL as soon as time permits.

    I decided this the day the news broke about Sun buying MySQL because I knew this would happen. Good to see my gut feelings are correct once again.

    Corporate Greed + Open Source Acquisition = Crippleware Soon Down The Track

  26. Chad Larson
    Thumb Up


    "Please, anyone with any success with large-scale postgres systems that hasn't noticed serious performance hits hit me back."

    We use PostgreSQL for our production ASP product. We have MySQL on several infrastructure boxes as we use some tools built against it. So, I've plenty experience with both, and I dispute your statement. PostgreSQL is faster and easier to administer, and more full featured than MySQL on anything more complicated than serving up web pages.

    The FreeBSD project just completed some performance benchmark runs on their version 7 release. The benchmark suite they chose included some applications that ran against an SQL server. They used both PostgreSQL 8 and MySQL. PostgreSQL outperformed MySQL in all tests by around 15% to 20%.

    Plus, PostgreSQL scales much better. MySQL claims ACID compliance, but until recently didn't even support roll-backs. Etc, etc.

    Not convinced? Consider this:

  27. Tim Bates

    Re: Great News

    "MySQL is a toy, get over it"

    Uh, OK... I guess that's why it's used in so many production environments then. SecondLife and Wikipedia both host HUGE databases on MySQL. I guess we should call them up and point out that it's a toy not a real DB.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Just who is The Standish Group

    Who exactly is Standish Group International and why should we be quoting them?

    Check out "About Us" at

    Am I missing something?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Why are people suprised

    They whoop and clap when the likes of IBM and Sun "support" open Source. But cry when they try to make some cash from it.

    Lets see.

    Sun to financiers


    Sun: We're going to embrace open source.

    Financiers: great, thats so cool and trendy, what's the plan.

    Sun: It's Open Source, we're going to spend loads of time and money on it and then give it away for free !

    financiers: Errr can we have our money back please....

    Sun, shock horror are a business, businesses need money to survive. to make money, they have to sell thing for cash... what an amazing concept !

  30. Matt Bradley

    Red Hat

    Does anybody remember the outcry when Red Hat started doing similar with Linux? Look how that turned out: Fedora is a very nice platform, (Ubuntu seems to have a lot in common with it, too!), and Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a SERIOUS hosting platform.

    <thinks>Now where is that TheRegister is hosted?</thinks>


    I don't necessrily see this as a bad thing. Let's see how it pans out over the next couple of years. Maybe MySQL could actually mature and become a real contender as a result of this. Which would be (IMHO) A GOOD THING.

  31. A J Stiles

    Fork coming up anytime

    Remember: MySQL is licenced under the GPL, which doesn't allow anyone but the copyright holder to create proprietary forks. So there's no chance that GPL MySQL will ever *lose* any features that it already has. Once the Source Code is already out there, it's unstoppable.

    Although Sun are within their rights to create a proprietary version with more features, the Open Source community are within *their* rights to create interoperable, Free versions of said features -- and importantly, by retaining the copyright on their own mods, lock Sun out from distributing them with the proprietary version. As long as someone with some clout is prepared to host the Free extensions (Debian, maybe? -- that way they would soon find their way into Ubuntu), they won't just vanish into obscurity.

    The beauty of the GPL is that it anticipates exactly this situation.

  32. Ronny Cook
    Thumb Up

    Re: C'est la vie

    Where it gets murky is that MySQL AB are not the only contributors of code to the MySQL database.

    If every contributor of code was required to assign copyright to MySQL AB then that's not a problem. However I suspect that an many cases there was no assignment, and so strictly speaking they need to get permission from the patch authors to sell that code.

    On another note, what Standish (and indeed most people who decry Open Source as being the death of the software industry) seem to forget is that for businesses software is a *cost*. As such any revenue lost by the software industry is an expense forgone by the businesses (or home users!) who would otherwise be subject to that cost.

    As a result, use of O.S. software boosts overall productivity; the $6B of "lost revenues" is $6B of "lost expenses" for everyone else. The only people I can see unhappy about this are the software companies; Microsoft's margin on MS Office, for example, is ridiculously high (in excess of 70% before taxes).

    Home users get the software for free, boosting effective real income (because they get a gain in utility with a very low opportunity cost.)

    This won't be the end of the software industry as there are many niche products which don't suit an open source model. But it will get rid of the big drains where a lot of money is spent on products where the real cost of development is greatly exceeded by what is charged.


  33. Dunstan Vavasour

    Before we get hysterical here ...

    MySQL will continue to be free/libre. MySQL's API for attaching backup tools will remain open. Before acquisition by Sun, MySQL had planned to develop a completely new and freestanding "Enterprise backup tool" using this API, and had not decided how it should be licensed. Ergo, it must be the case that Sun is taking MySQL proprietary. Not.

    You guys really don't understand where Sun's going. I would think it's far more likely that Sun will decide to make this tool free/libre, and then offer paid for training or implementation services.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Calm down, dear...

    To use a clear analogy:

    Several companies (F-Secure, Norton et al) sell security software that runs on Linux. This is proprietary software that they wrote. They aren't ripping anyone off.

    Sun aren't "selling" MySQL. They are selling proprietary software that they wrote. It happens to be software that works with MySQL. Big deal. They're not ripping anyone off.

    Do you buy Ubuntu/Debian/XYZ t-shirts? Why? Because it's OK to voluntarily support a company who've put time and money into supporting the community.

    MySQL and Sun have supported the community. Surely buying a high-quality backup solution from them is perfectly acceptable.

  35. Solomon Grundy

    @GPL and AJ Stiles

    The beauty of the GPL is that it anticipates exactly this situation.

    Hahahaha. Yes it anticipates this situation and acts primarily as an escape hatch. Simple minded open source people. I really feel sorry for them.

  36. Christopher E. Stith

    @ Solomon Grundy

    Why do you feel sorry for Open Source types? Because we only have 13 or so years worth of development we can reuse openly from MySQL for whatever purpose and at no cost vs. the volumes of SQL Server and Oracle source code you've got for the same?

  37. Anonymous Coward

    @dave lawless

    Agreed. Real programmers use flat files.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Yeah, same issues with PG, I think the cut off you get between the two groups depends on whether you're after a raw place to dump loads of data and need to get it quickly, or you need transactions and locking. The heavily transaction oriented crowd are normally better off with PG, they also tend to think they need a heavily locked transaction oriented approach when they don't.

    Thing I always hated about PG was that stupid thing you had to run every so often to remove empty slots in tables... That was a while back mind, so they've probably ditched that now. Anything involving lots of inserts and deletes ended up with enormous files.

  39. Anonymous Coward


    You can already use Sybase for free. If you're running Linux you can download and install ASE 12 - but with a cap on resources, which limits the maximum device size and I think the number of engines.

    You would probably like Sybase if you tried it - easy to set up, quick and runs entirely from command line, unlike MS Sql Server. Although Oracle PL/SQL is more powerful, Sybase Transact-SQL is a whole lot more logical and much easier to learn - it happily does the job in anything less than extreme-computing scenarios.

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