The State of MySQL: The Elephant in the Room

2009-02-09 19:00:00 -0500

It’s been in the news for a few days: two of the MySQL execs, Martin Mickos and Monty Widenus, are leaving Sun Microsystems, Sun having bought and absorbed MySQL AB.

I’ve always been a Sun fan (Solaris FTW), but it’s a well-known joke that being bought-out by Sun is the kiss of death. So what happens to MySQL now, and what happens in the open-source database space? Drizzle, an open-source and derivative project led by Brian Aker, doesn’t seem to have clearly defined its space (“the cloud?”), with people wondering if it’s really just a SQLite competitor (alternative might be a better turn of phrase because it’s got a long way to go before it could “compete” with SQLite). Speculation aside, what is known is that it drops many of the features that make MySQL a full-featured relational database.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think that we have a winner, the elephant in the room: PostgreSQL. Somebody’s gotta say it. Sorry to gloat. PostgreSQL is and has been “the most advanced open-source database,” long before these MySQL upstarts came along.

In the end, MySQL was never a completely open project. MySQL AB offered a GPL version but only included code that they owned the copyright to. Contributing developers wouldn’t see changes included in the core unless they were rewritten by MySQL AB or donated (read sign over their IP) to the company. It’s pretty heinous to tout such a model as an open-source success story, and it looks like the opposite is now true: MySQL is clearly floundering.

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