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Dead database walking: MySQL's creator on why the future belongs to MariaDB

Rohan Pearce | April 2, 2013
MySQL's creator, Michael "Monty" Widenius, is scathing on database's future with Oracle

It's fair to say that MySQL creator Michael "Monty" Widenius is not a fan of Oracle. When the company announced in April 2009 that it was purchasing Sun, Widenius saw a bleak future ahead for the (still) wildly popular open source database, which Sun had snapped up in 2008.

The day the Sun purchase was announced, Widenius responded in the tried and true open source fashion - he forked MySQL, launching MariaDB, and took a swathe of MySQL developers with him.

"Many of the original MySQL core developers, including me, didn't believe that Oracle would be a good owner of MySQL and we wanted to ensure that the MySQL code base would be free forever," Widenius explains.

Widenius and a number of other MySQL developers started a company, Monty Program Ab "to provide a home both for MariaDB - the new MySQL - and for all MySQL core developers".

"Monty Program Ab is owned by the employees and uses the 'hacking business model' as a way to drive the company," Widenius says.

Although MySQL is still widely used - ranks it as the third most popular RDBMS after Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server, compared to MariaDB coming in at #35 - Widenius still believes the database has a bleak future under Oracle's stewardship.

Oracle's treatment of MySQL and its community since its purchase of Sun has proved Widenius' original fears correct, the developer says. Not mincing words, Widenius says that Oracle has made it clear "that they have no love for open source, working with the community, or MySQL in general".

Widenius cites as examples of Oracle's disregard for open source principles the September 2011 announcement of commercial extensions to MySQL, the bugs database not being public any more, and a lack of test cases for new code in MySQL 5.5 and 5.6

Widenius is also scathing of the quality of Oracle's MySQL development efforts. "Some of the new code by Oracle is surprisingly good, but unfortunately the quality varies and a notable part needs to be rewritten before we can include it in MariaDB," he says.

He also says that security issues are not addressed quickly enough.

"Instead of fixing bugs, Oracle is removing features," Widenius says.

"The MySQL documentation was never made open source, even [though] it was promised in the MySQL conference in April 2009," he adds.

"Flagship features promised for MySQL 6.0 have never been released, even if they were fully developed and ready to be released," he says, referring to online backup for all storage engines and foreign keys for all storage engines.

"Most of the original MySQL developers have left Oracle. Without people that can understand and explain the code it's almost impossible for Oracle to develop MySQL further even if they wanted to."


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