“It’s Not Dead, It’s Just Resting!” a.k.a., MySQL, Ethics and Death
Jul 9, 2008 / By Sheeri Cabral
In http://www.mysqlperformanceblog.com/2008/07/01/should-we-proclaim-mysql-community-edition-dead/, Peter Zaitsev wonders if MySQL’s community edition is dead.
The title of Peter’s inquiry is somewhat misleading, as the database itself works fine. He clarifies a bit with, “there suppose to be 2 yearly binary releases (which are overdue) and 4 predictable yearly source releases, which we have not seen either.” I thought it was clear that “2 per year” doesn’t mean “one every six months”. It’s been eight months, sure. And I don’t actually believe that MySQL is going to have one source release per month until November, to make up for the lack of source releases. However, it’s certainly possible, if not probable.
The fact remains, however, that if you’re just looking for stable, recent, binary MySQL Community release, you might not find it. MySQL offers two out of three — stable and binary Community releases. Not recent, but I think it’s okay to charge for the most up-to-date version. In my experience only about half of the production environments out there have switched to 5.0, and many are running 4.1 and 4.0 still.
At the low end, a license costs just under USD$600. The requirement to buy a license to get the most recent version is a mere inconvenience, not a business-stopper. It’s not like MySQL is forcing everyone to run on version 3.23 unless they pay $10,000 per license. Charging a modest amount for the most up-to-date version is not a bad thing.
It would be nice to have been aware of that ahead of time, but MySQL as a company has not been so great at organizing and having all its ducks in a row. In fact this is where I hope Sun can really help MySQL out, as it has a reputation (a deserved one, in my experience) of being more highly organized.
Have you heard of Hanlon’s razor? “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”
Applied here, Hanlon’s razor suggests that MySQL is not intentionally doing this. If they were, they would not have promised two binary and four source releases each calendar year. And to be fair, I don’t think it’s actually stupidity, just a sign of overcommitment.
I can only imagine that there has been tons of overhead for MySQL employees in the last five-odd months, since the acquisition was announced. From my reading of Planet MySQL, I have seen that MySQL employees have had to take a lot of trips (frequently with only a week or two of notice) to speak at summits and conferences, often outside of their own countries. This leaves little time for development, or organization of development.
I am sure that, with some inside knowledge, we could all point to things that MySQL does as a company that might be a little (or a lot) unethical. I do not have that knowledge, and I do not like to make conclusions about the ethics of a company based only on outcomes.
Many of us in the community are frustrated because we are told one thing and the outcome is another. The way I see it, the company is having an awkward adolescence, and I am sure it is just as frustrating for developers and marketing folks alike to have a plan and then deviate from it. Change is inevitable, and any project manager will tell you that no plan works exactly according to spec.
Maybe folks like Peter are too quick to accuse; perhaps ones like me are too quick to forgive and understand. Time will tell. I hope MySQL will not disappoint, and I do not believe they have that intention. If they disappoint their customers, there’s nobody left!