Letter to the EC opposing Oracle's acquisition of MySQL

The following is a letter that KEI, Richard Stallman and ORG have sent to the European Commission, asking the European Commission to prevent Oracle from acquiring MySQL as part of its acquisition of Sun. The European Commission has the authority to require a divestiture of MySQL, so that it would not be part of the merger, in order to ensure that MySQL would operate independently, or be sold to a different company that would not face the same conflicts as Oracle does. KEI would have raised similar objections if Microsoft was the proposed buyer of MySQL.

For KEI, this letter follows earlier discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice about the impact of the proposed merger on persons who use free software. KEI is disappointed the USDOJ did not require a divestiture of MySQL. For additional evidence regarding the competition between MySQL and Oracle, you may want to review Sun's pre-merger slides on the Peter Project, which were recently distributed on wikileaks.

KEI sees the MySQL acquisition as an important precedent for the application of competition laws to free software. Traditional market analysis looks at revenue based market shares, which are meaningless for software distributed gratis or licensed under prices that reflect fees for services. Many important free software services are supported by some type of commercial business model, and can be fragile, if acquired by a firm that has an interest in diluting or destroying the longer run viability of the free software project. For example, Microsoft competes against Red Hat in important segments of the server market. If Oracle is allowed by acquire MySQL, Microsoft can argue it should be allowed to buy Red Hat, since most of the Red Hat software is available under the GPL. Both acquisitions would harm the users of free software, and reduce competition.

Our letter to the European Commission follows:


Neelie Kroes
Commissioner for Competition
European Commission
1049 Brussels, Belgium
E-mail: neelie.kroes@ec.europa.eu

October 19, 2009

Dear Commissioner Kroes,

Oracle should not be permitted to acquire its competitor, MySQL

Introduction

We are writing to express our opposition to the proposed acquisition of MySQL as part of the larger merger between Sun Microsystems and Oracle Corporation.

Richard Stallman is a software developer and software freedom activist and is the main author of the GNU General Public License, the most widely used free software license. Stallman launched the Free Software Movement in 1983 and led the development of the GNU operating system (normally used together with the kernel Linux).

Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) is a non-profit public interest organization, supporting work carried out earlier by the Consumer Project on Technology (CPTech), an organization that has in the past participated in a number of merger reviews, including those involving legal publishing, retail distribution, and media concentration and telecommunications regulation. KEI uses MySQL to power several different web page platforms, including those run by Free/Libre/ and Open Source (FLOSS) content management systems such as Joomla, Drupal and Wordpress.

The Open Rights Group (ORG), a non-profit company founded in 2005 by 1,000 digital activists, is the UK’s leading voice defending freedom of expression, privacy, innovation, consumer rights and creativity on the net.

The European Commission should block Oracle's acquisition of MySQL as part of its acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Oracle seeks to acquire MySQL to prevent further erosion of its share of the market for database software licenses and services, and to protect the high prices now charged for its proprietary database software licenses and services.

If Oracle is allowed to acquire MySQL, it will predictably limit the development of the functionality and performance of the MySQL software platform, leading to profound harm to those who use MySQL software to power applications.

Oracle is the leading seller of proprietary database software designed for very large enterprises. In this market space, Oracle has market dominance, and charges very high prices and earns hefty profits. In other segments of the market, Oracle has faced more competition from other competitors for database
software, including proprietary products such as Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase and IBM's DB2, but also from FLOSS platforms, including in particular MySQL.

MySQL is made available to the public in two parallel ways. Most users obtain it as free/libre software under the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2; the code is released in this way gratis. MySQL is also available under a different, proprietary license for a fee.

This approach was able to provide (1) an attractive platform for developers looking to use FLOSS, and secured MySQL enormous mind share, particularly in supporting content rich web pages and other Internet applications, and (2) the ability for paying clientèle to combine and distribute MySQL in customizations that they do not want to make available to the public as free/libre software under the GPL. With excellent management and considerable trust within the user community, MySQL became the gold standard for web based FLOSS database applications.

MySQL is the "M" in LAMP, an acronym coined in April 1998, for an open source web server software bundle comprised of the GNU/Linux operating system, the Apache HTTP server software, the database program MySQL, and PHP, a web scripting language. Collectively these applications are used to build millions of general purpose web applications, including many of the most important web based applications on the Internet. According to Sun, there are more than 65,000 downloads of the MySQL software per day.

Over time, MySQL developed greater functionality, dependability and improved in performance, and became a very important element of the database market – much greater than can be measured by market share analysis based on revenues.

MySQL is also creating substantial competitive pressure on prices for proprietary databases, leading to moderation or lowering of licensing fees from Oracle and Microsoft, as well as defection of many enterprise database services to a MySQL platform. If one considers proprietary software a good thing, this reduction in their prices is an instance of the economic benefit that we seek from competition. Many of the larger users that form the backbone of Oracle's cash flow have or are expected to evaluate the benefits of migrating database services to a MySQL platform. While Oracle's database is the dominant player today for the "old” database market, MySQL is the dominant player for the "new,” emerging database markets, and is seen by Oracle as the most important competitor for the future.

Oracle made an earlier effort to buy MySQL in 2006, but the management rejected Oracle's offer, in part because Oracle would not disclose its plan for MySQL, and some members of the MySQL management team were concerned that Oracle was only acquiring MySQL to curb its advances in the marketplace.

MySQL was acquired by Sun in February 2008, in a transaction welcomed by many users because of Sun's good reputation among advocates of FLOSS software, and a belief that Sun would position MySQL as a strong competitor. Under Sun, there was considerable staff turnover, but the core software product continued to expand and improve.

Defenders of the Oracle acquisition of its competitor naively say Oracle cannot harm MySQL, because a free version of the software is available to anyone under GNU GPL version 2.0, and if Oracle is not a good host for the GPL version of the code, future development will be taken up by other businesses and individual programmers, who could freely and easily "fork" the GPL'd code into a new platform. This defense fails for the reasons that follow.

MySQL uses the parallel licensing approach to generate revenue to continue the FLOSS development of the software. If Oracle acquired MySQL, it would then be the only entity able to release the code other than under the GPL. Oracle would not be obligated to diligently sell or reasonably price the MySQL commercial licenses. More importantly, Oracle is under no obligation to use the revenues from these licenses to advance MySQL. In making decisions in these matters, Oracle is facing an obvious conflict of interest – the continued development of a powerful, feature rich free alternative to its core product.

As only the original rights holder can sell commercial licenses, no new forked version of the code will have the ability to practice the parallel licensing approach, and will not easily generate the resources to support continued development of the MySQL platform.

The acquisition of MySQL by Oracle will be a major setback to the development of a FLOSS database platform, potentially alienating and dispersing MySQL's core community of developers. It could take several years before another database platform could rival the progress and opportunities now available to MySQL, because it will take time before any of them attract and cultivate a large enough team of developers and achieve a similar customer base.

Yet another way in which Oracle will have the ability to determine the forking of MySQL relates to the evolution of the GNU GPL license. GPL version 2.0 (GPLv2) and GPL version 3.0 (GPLv3) are different licenses and each requires that any modified program carry the same license as the original. There are fundamental and unavoidable legal obstacles to combining code from programs licensed under the different GPL versions. Today MySQL is only available to the public under GPLv2.

Many other FLOSS software projects are expected to move to GPLv3, often automatically due to the common use of the "any later version" clause. Because the current MySQL license lacks that clause, it will remain GPLv2 only and it will not be possible to combine its code with the code of many GPLv3-covered projects in the future. Given that forking of the MySQL code base will be particularly dependent on FLOSS community contributions - more so than on in-company development - the lack of a more flexible license* for MySQL will present considerable barriers to a new forked development path for MySQL.

We note that Oracle has been conspicuously silent about its plans for MySQL since the announcement of the Sun acquisition, until very recently. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, in the first public statement on the subject, insisted that Oracle will not spin-off MySQL after the merger and also made the outlandish claim that Oracle's product was not in competition with MySQL. While some merger defenders have suggested that the MySQL acquisition will bolster Oracle's position with respect to competition from Microsoft's SQL Server, it is naturally more likely that Oracle will prioritize protecting its core product, the Oracle proprietary database, from further erosion of market share and the shrinking of licensing fees, and this will most efficiently be accomplished by curbing the growth and improvement of the free version of MySQL.

We recognize the support Sun provides to increase competition in numerous markets through its support of FLOSS and open standards. We also recognize that Oracle's acquisition of Sun may be essential for Sun's survival. However, Oracle should not be allowed to harm consumer interests in the database market by weakening the competition provided by MySQL. For the reasons elucidated above, we ask that you block Oracle's acquisition of MySQL.

Sincerely,

James Love and Malini Aisola, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
Richard Stallman
Jim Killock, Open Rights Group (ORG)

cc: Philip Lowe, Director General Competition, European Commission, DG Competition

*A more flexible license means one compatible with GPL version 3. Since the parallel approach requires a copyleft license, the way to do this would be to replace "just GPL version 2" with "GPL version 2 or GPL version 3", or else "GPL version 2 or any later GPL version".

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MySQL and Oracle

Why Oracle has fear of MYSQL ? Hasn't it its own Not Free Software RDBMS ?

http://www.oradev.com/oracle_string_functions.jsp

is MYSQL the one for RDBMS ? http://www.mysql.com/downloads

It is not the one, so it is possible to use many differents
RDBMS as is possible to see here:

http://directory.fsf.org/category/db

So please choose your better RDBMS under GPLv2, GPLv3 or any other compatible GNU General Public License compatible:

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/licenses.html
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#SoftwareLicenses

first strike of RSU means (Representations Joint Union http://translate.google.it/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.flcgil.it%2Frsu%... ) against the dismissal of 60 employees in Oracle on March 27, 2009

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bYxoPlT7RA

Second Strike in Oracle Italy - Against layoff (600 euros for month) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YH2lbld_fs0

There are thousands of pages about Oracle and RSU on google.

Strike to Sun Microsystems Italy (Roma) June 19, 2009 The video

http://iptv.cgil.lombardia.it/web/CanaleTematico.aspx?ch=43&fl=1578&mode= statement S. Felicetti delegated (FIOM means: Employees Federation of Metallurgical Workers = http://translate.google.it/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fiom.cgil.it%2F&... of RSU means = Representations Joint Union http://translate.google.it/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.flcgil.it%2Frsu%... )

2 pages on google.it about the website fiom.cgil.it (cgil means = Italian General Confederation of Labour http://translate.google.it/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cgil.it%2F&sl=it...
) http://www.google.com/search?as_sitesearch=www.fiom.cgil.it&hl=it&q=orac...

Oracle e Sun Microsystems must understand that workers are not meats to take to the abattoir.

So don't use products Oracle and Sun Microsystems until they have not clarified the situation with their own workers in Italy.

union pays for an employee must have a minimum of 700 euros, oracle gives 600 euros per month to its workers, is outlawed.

happy hacking

Paolo Del Bene

p.s: tell to Larry Ellison, about the real problems that there are in Italy with redundancies.

Promises from Oracle about MySQL

To all readers:

I personally do not like to see Oracle ownership of MySQL no matter how much promises Oracle give!
Because Firstly Oracle has been a for-profit company only promoting its own products and services for many years. It has no good "track record" of any kind to manage a "open source" program in the scale of MySQL.
Secondly, who will look after the compliance of Oracle about any kind of promises and standards???
Thirdly, what punishments, consequences and who will enforce them if Oracle "violates" any of its own promises???
Therefore I concluded that Oracle should NOT be entrusted with ownership and management of the MySQL program which has many good years of service to million of users world wide!!! Thanks for listening!!

Sincerely
Frank

Too much talk about details

As someone else noted earlier, people are debating on who is bigger and better, while losing focus over the most important part of this whole deal - MySQL's future is questionable because Oracle is trying to buy it. While Oracle has database products AND it clearly made steps to the low-end DB-based project with their Express Edition, it should be obvious to everyone that placing MySQL into a dark spot will gradually kill its market.

Now considering MySQL has the biggest DB market share on the internet, we should be blind not to see Oracle wants that share. It is true, Oracle has spent money on InnoDB, but I think we all agree they've spent a lot more on their proprietary DB. InnoDB could simply be a stunt to let people think they are committed to helping ALL people. But you can easily fake that when you have a lot of income, right? Oracle needs to earn money from the project they invested more into, simply because it makes economical sense. Going with MySQL as Monty or at least Sun did... doesn't look like a long-term plan to me.

If MySQL slowly dies... what project will die next? It's not enough to look at the present, but also the future. That's why anticipating consequences is not a matter of choice of heart, but rational understanding of the market.

Oracle products are very good, but I totally understand if they want to take out their competition. It's not healthy for the consumers but companies tend to do that. There's no wonder about it. But what we're talking about here is protecting the market from going from a healthy proportion of open and closed source to a near-monopoly status.

Just in case someone might misread my last sentence... Oracle buying MySQL doesn't create monopoly but allowing big sharks eating all the small fish will only leave 2-3 sharks in the end. We have to look further than 1 step ahead.

I support this

MySQL is of whole open-source community and it cannot be a part of acquisition. It is priceless.

We should start a campaign for this. I can give some space on my blog Web Scripting, if you need it. It is well visited by 500+ visitors and ~ 700 pageviews per day.

Thanks!
Satya

qwerty

Have you ever looked into path dependence in economics ?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Path_dependence
http://www.utdallas.edu/~liebowit/paths.html

oracle leave the mysql

Sir lets faced it oracle is for a big company and mysql is only for us a small business man want to earn money with help of mysql opensource it helps a lot for us. Now you guys from oracle you make your own money to a big company or a big busnessman. Pls oracle leave the mysql you wont help us and you don't teach us. You only help us but with money unlike mysql is always helping us without asking money... So pls leave the mysql. tnx

What a load

MySQL represents 0.5% of the DB market. How large is that? There is IBM DB2, Microsoft server and Opensource Postgress SQL.

There is plenty of competition, and there are other good branches of MySQL already (Google....)

Oracle already does the most popular Open Source storage engine for MySQL anyhow. It's called InnoDB. If Oracle wanted to hobble MySQL, it would be doing all the bad things said it might do to MySQL to InnoDB. It has (and will) not.

There are only Engineers at Sun losing their jobs and Kroes trying to save face.

0.5%?

That's misleading because most people who use MySQL pay exactly $0 for it. It is common for even very successful open source projects to show low 'market share' if market share is defined as percentage of overall sales.

If you instead take total number of installations, database instances or end users you get a completely different picture (Apache will beat IIS, and MySQL will beat Oracle or SQL Server).

There is no Proprietary Software

Oracle, acquiring a huge Open-Source product like MySQL indirectly, by buying the place where it lives in the software world is the real world equivalent of strip mining.

If Oracle wants to make their software Open-Source, sometime between now and the time they acquire SUN, then some real sharing of technologies could advance the database industry and ease some of the fears folks are having about this fishy merger.

But that's not going to happen because all developers know there isn't any real proprietary software. Developers have been doing it for years, cutting, copying and pasting code from someone else who also did the same. They'll then massage it some and tweak it out before moving on to the next task. Nothing is created in a vacuum, we have all contributed, some more that others, and we have all built upon work done by others.

When so many people, businesses, and systems rely on the work developed by the MySQL developers, it would be the role of responsible government to look out for collateral damage, the interest, investments and future of orphaned parties.

It is certain that corporate business, isn't and not so surprising that the USDOJ could also careless. Oops, that's not true, their looking out for Oracles future. My bad. The USDOJ started turning their head away from monopoly issues decades ago.

I think the best solution is to require Oracle to hire and maintain in-house a watchdog team from the KEI or other equivalent group to ensure that the software continues to enjoy and evolve under their ownership/watch as it did under SUN's.

Some may disagree, but really, good software is like a work of Art and is only deserving of those that appreciate it.

The Eagle is Watching.

Yeah right

USDOJ did have concerns about Java licensing which could have impacted more users than MySQL. Don't make this about US v/s Europe. There are other issues that Oracle's competition is worried about and using proxies to bring up a grey area as MySQL.

I know what you are saying about copying and pasting of code. But extending your logic, no software should be sold. OK, let's all go home and wait for all the people sitting in their basements to write (or copy) useful applications in their free time. Where were all the objections when Sun bought MySQL? Or did EC hope that the poor management was to stay forever and MySQL would flourish as Sun management wouldn't know how to exploit it to make money?

Wake up! Whether you like it or not, people have to make money off software? Aren't *users* of MySQL making (or saving) money themselves?

Really? Make money?

As a US citizen, I think I have the right to spotlight the USDOJ if they seem to be missing in action.

As a 25+ year software engineer who has more work than time, I pay the bills.

Not sure what I'm supposed to wake up from.

Cheers, from the Eagle is Watching.

Too late about USDOJ...

You seem to be troubled that USDOJ didn't block an acquisition of this size - not specific to MySQL portion of it. Understood. But using this acquisition to raise objections against USDOJ while it is already out of DOJ's purview is a little late here. Besides, your arguments get weaker if you simply blast USDOJ and not bring up specific issues with this case where MySQL (a corporation) which was acquired by Sun (another corporation) and is not to be acquired by a third and much larger corporation.

MySQL portion of the acquisition is a much smaller issue here compared to what else is at stake in the merger. Since MySQL/open source is a grey area, it is easy to raise objections and keep going in circles (not talking about you specifically, but people who oppose this merger). Asking for hard evidence from Oracle that competition does not exist is like trying to prove that you and I aren't siblings.

My point about "wake up" was directed at the general crowd as well. I don't believe that there would be worthwhile open source development without corporate involvement although purists and young and passionate people would disagree...

A can of worms

Oh boy, you've opened the Oracle monopoly can of worms. I enjoy listening to what your readings have commented on. It will be very interesting moving forward to see how everything turns out.

Is no one getting the point?

Is no one getting the point? It's not about licensing and GPL and BSD.
The problem is that one large company will buy one of it's competitors, probably slowly thrash it and confuse/deorganise the community around it. Surely there will possibly be a fork of MySQL, but would you use with the same confidence - mysql-new developed and maintained by 40-50% or less of the people and with confused community, or will you say - Oh screw that - we are migrating to PostgreSQL. Postgre is perfectly fine - the point is one pretty good open DB will go down.

PostgreSQL

I can tell you from first hand experience, PostgreSQL is not without it's problems.

Careful with your wish - assume it is granted... then what?

Let's say that MySQL cannot be acquired by Oracle due to your objections. Who will buy MySQL? Would all the developers who worked for MySQL stay with the company? Many might choose to leave after having gone through the experience with the second acquisition in a short time. Without the full strength of an established corporation behind it, how far will MySQL go?

Oracle could sell a stripped down version of its own DB if it wanted to compete in that space.

Sun on the other hand, paid $1 billion for MySQL to increase its credibility as an open source company. No one other than Sun's management would have put such a high price on MySQL - my estimate would be somewhere in the region of $200-400 million.

If this merger is not approved, think how many people would then remain interested in working at any open source software company. Which corporate bodies would fund open source contributions? The implications would not be limited to MySQL, but all open source.

Be careful what you wish for!

Oops!

RMS: Oracle going to buy MySQL. Stop it immediately.

EC: Do you use MySQL?

RMS: Yes yes ...:)

EC: How much do you pay?

RMS: Oops, zero.

EC: Are you forced to use MySQL?

RMS: Oops...No

EC: So fork it under your own GPLv2 license as you preach!

RMS: Oops...GPL software cannot earn money...so project cannot survive :(

EC: So, do you have the **freedom** to switch to the BSD-licensed PostgreSQL then?

RMS: Oops... Oops...we are against BSD license, its not **free** because people can earn money out of BSD-licensed software. We want some **Ty Coon** from a **Yoyodyne, Inc** to bare the cost of development.

EC: Oops!

Sagara Wijetunga
Tomahawk Desktop

Reply to Guy Accusing Stallman of Not Letting People Make Money

Stallman never said GPL couldn't earn money. He has always championed the idea of software that anyone can read the source code of, and cannot sell *only if* they don't let people see the source code... but they still can make money as programmers and selling their software! You're pretending Stallman is being against some kind of freedom (i.e. "making money"), but really he's for everyone's freedom to see any software's source code and against the dubious "freedom" to restrict everyone's freedom to do such (freedom to restrict generally means relying on the threat of force and coercion). He's obviously also going to be opposed to corporate tricks and gimmicks where software from the past that was under an open source license or a free software license is somehow shoe-horned back into being closed source - even a part of it, or a whole computer language or software development system.

If you're implying that it's only possible to make money if everyone's freedom is restricted, then why don't you get a job from the RIAA or MPAA? Oops.. you already have one. (take that, smarty pants.)

If Stallman was against people making money, why has he paid people for working for him? It isn't about opposition to making money. It's about opposition to software companies that hide the original source code from the public at large. Do you have *ANY* idea what this big debate *really* is about, and what it's implications *really* are?

Here is an example: were you around in the 1980s? Do you remember all those proprietary software arcade games that so many of us would have liked to have understood so other game markets could have quickly rose up and more programmers and artists could have made better games? But proprietary, locked-away source code *in pretty much everything having to do with computers* kept us in a technological backwater for years. There were multitudes of people (including many, many young people and students) who would have loved to have understood games programing back then, but the closed-source corporate priesthood kept us in the Dark Ages just as the Catholic Church did in the real Europe with science for a thousand years.

Finally, if free software and the general idea of what Stallman believes in were so bad, why do so many people and companies fall over each other to use gcc and so many other things that came out of the free software milieux?

Freedom and competition laws

We have competition laws to protect the public. A merger that is anticompetitive is illegal, whether the software is FLOSS, or proprietary. The laws apply to everyone.

James Love, Director, KEI

Why so late?

The take over of Sun was announced at April 20, 2009 and approved July 16, 2009 by its shareholders.

So why does Stallman sent this letter on October 19, 2009?

It is really late!

I think that Neelie Kroes should ditch this letter.

Timing of opposition

KEI and others had two meetings with the U.S. Department of Justice about the merger, over the summer.

James Love, Director, KEI

If Oracle "owning" commercial MySQL bothers anyone . . .

Why not use Postgresql instead?

Thanks for your assistance in killing Sun

Sun is loosing people every day the EC commission stalls. Microsoft and IBM should cordially thank you.

Employment loses at Sun

The management of Sun and Oracle both knew that questions would be asked about MySQL. Neither have offered anything to address the concerns about reduced competition. Oracle could spin off a unit that probably has less than 100 employees, and the merger would go through. Why don't they?

James Love, Director, KEI

Get some perspective, man

Who knows? Who cares? The real question is, what is KEI going to do when Oracle pulls out of the acquisition and Sun either goes bust or has to radically restructure? At that point, anyone (including Oracle) will be able to buy the MySQL copyrights and trademarks, without having to honor Sun's contractual commitments and without any regulatory oversight at all. And let's not even think about the unregulated sale of Sun's patent portfolio to the highest bidder.

Your interference is irresponsible in the extreme for its lack of perspective. You're fixating on a single issue without regard for the wider consequences, and your "blame it on them" attitude when asked about the jobs you're helping destroy is breathtakingly insensitive.

"If Oracle is allowed to

"If Oracle is allowed to acquire MySQL, it will predictably limit the development of the functionality and performance of the MySQL software platform, leading to profound harm to those who use MySQL software to power applications."

Seems like he's never used MySQL. Oracle are probably trying to protect these poor fools from themselves.

ORACLE IS A MONOPOLY

ORACLE IS A MONOPOLY

Oracle is already a monopoly like Microsoft. These billion dollar corporations have a history of preventing innovation and buying out any competition that appears.

Sun was once a profitable company which was taken over by 65-year-old morons who ran it into the ground. These are the same generation of idiots who destroyed the US economy.

Larry Ellison wants another database company (MySQL) to put on his list of companies he already shut down, so he can sit on his 500-foot mega-yacht drinking wine.

You reap what you sow

Wow, that's a lot of bile for three short paragraphs. Look, Mr. Widenius took the money. End of story. Sun is a corporation too and, as legal owners of MySQL, they may do what they damn please with it. Why is Oracle so different from Sun? Do you really think MySQL can stand as Oracle's competitor? Really? My guess is that Oracle might see MySQL as a gateway DB to their product. Not unreasonable in my view as it's certainly not a competitor. PostgreSQL is a much more dangerous competitor than is MySQL but the PostgreSQL folks never pushed their product in an advertising fashion and the BSD license lets people use the code without saying anything.

In any event, the MySQL code is out there. It can still be used and developed, so what are you worried about? What are you ranting about? Are you afraid that Mr. Widenius has discovered that the brand "MySQL" appears to have more value than the code itself? That Oracle is going to turn MySQL into the super DB that he couldn't? That people are going to pay Oracle a lot of money to use a newer, better MySQL while they won't pay anything to support or use this upstart MariaDB of his? Perhaps he can think about these things while he counts his money. And people like yourself can put away your strawman Oracle. Oracle is not your enemy. Maybe Mr. Widenius is, because he sold you out, and you don't have the strength to admit it.

If you're so anti-Oracle you're better off using PostgreSQL. It's been way better than MySQL for several releases now and in a few years it will be breathing down Oracle's neck. That's why the brand "MySQL" has value: It has mindshare. Catch 'em early and guide them into Oracle. Keep them away from PostgreSQL or DB2 or a forked commercial PostgreSQL product that is cheaper than Oracle.

I cut my internet teeth on MySQL. But there's more to Real World DBMSes than count(*) speed. With MySQL's crazy and confusing dual license mode I'm really surprised the MySQL faithful didn't see this coming a couple years ago. A pity.

Right on, MySQL isn't the issue. How about other OS products?

MySQL is not the issue. It's some of the other Sun products that should be the worry.

You have correctly analysed the DB ecosphere. As any DB enthusiast/professional worth their salt knows, MySQL and Oracle cater to very different markets. (PostgreSQL is a much more dangerous competitor for it's robustness, ACID compliance, SQL-SPEC compliance, intelligence, features, and BSD licence.) It's difficult to back up this claim without delving into the technical details, but a key point to note is that from their respective inceptions, development on both DBs never stopped. In that light then, realize that Oracle is almost 3 times as old as MySQL. Don't underestimate "old", battle hardened code.

The more pressing concerns should be about control of some of the other open source technologies under Sun Microsystems' purview. Notably the control and direction of Java, and Innotek's VirtualBox creation. Those two acquisitions are, in the long run, the smarter acquisition for a company that is beginning to diversify.

Oracle's history with FLOSS speaks for itself

One wonders what Oracle will do with MySQL, especially in light of Oracle's actions regarding some other Open Source product that it is, or has been, involved with. Some specifics include SleepyCat (Berkeley DB), InnoDB transactional engine, Apache Trinidad project, to name a few.

My personal experience with these, and other, Oracle-supported FLOSS projects has not been negative, in spite of the warnings by some.

The fact that they can (and do) bring huge testing resources to bear actually provides a benefit to the community. In other words, Oracle may not be as evil as some seem to believe.

RMS should practice what he preaches

I am really annoyed, that RMS uses any occasion to spread his dogmatism, in this case on the expense on several thousands of Sun employees, who are waiting to see an perspective for their future again. I'm not a Sun employee myself, but have many friends there, who are depressed by uncertainty. In between RMS is one of the prominent speakers at an event in China, that is mostly sponsored by companies who never contributed anything to free software.

GPL prevents commercially successful fork

Interesting that the author of the GPL (Stallman) tries to intervene in a case in which the GPL would prevent a commercially successful fork.

I thought this was a feature of the GPL and not a bug?

Does this maybe show that "Permissive" licenses (BSD, Apache, etc.) are better suited to foster commercial competition?

GPL and forks

In this case, people should look at what Oracle is seeking to do -- acquire MySQL -- and ask if this acquisition presents acceptable risks to MySQL users. In our view, the risks are too great, and we have asked the EC to block the acquisition. We would not have wanted Microsoft to acquire MySQL either.

The discussion about the licensing issues, which are complicated, is in the context of the merger. Do the licenses provide sufficient protection so that even a plainly anticompetitive merger will pose no harm? A licence can have many good features, but not be a silver bullet that will excuse any conduct, including an anticompetitive acquisition of a key player supporting a FLOSS project.

How would you feel if Microsoft acquired Red Hat or Canonical, the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu? Would the GPL eliminate the harm from such an acquisition? I don't think so.

The letter is about a merger, and you should think long and hard about the consequences of the merger.

James Love, Director, KEI

The GPL was supposed to keep

The GPL was supposed to keep things like this from happening, wasn't it? Unfortunately, the GPL covers code and not corporate entities. MySQL AB sold itself to Sun and the problems started there, not with Oracle's purchase of Sun. How does one demonstrate peril to a software product when the code for that product is, and will continue to be, free and widely available for use and development by anybody? That's going to be a tough nut to crack.

Unless people come forward to demonstrate their use of MySQL on a scale (or in a manner*) uniquely considered the domain of the likes of Oracle or DB2 it's going to be pretty hard to make a case that MySQL is a true competitor to Oracle, and no Admin in her right mind is going to tip off hackers that her very large, very important installation uses database X.

* Capabilities supplied by middleware don't count.

The GPL is helpful. The merger is still a bad idea.

Capabilities supplied by middleware do count, if they can run on MySQL. Why wouldn't this be relevant?

I think the GPL is quite helpful, including in this case. But it does not undue the harm of the merger.

The EC is being asked to block an acquisition of MySQL by Oracle. Sun had an interest in growing MySQL. Oracle and Microsoft are facing competition from MySQL, and both have an interest in limiting its future growth.

If MySQL creates downward pricing pressure on the MS database products, this too hurts Oracle, because lower prices for Microsoft and a zero price for MySQL both have an impact on Oracle's prices and market share.

Oracle and MySQL don't compete head to head in many areas. They do in others. Not everyone wants to be locked into an Oracle solution these days.

Oracle, which can use the MySQL code under GPL like everyone else, is saying it won't buy Sun without MySQL. Why do you think the management of Oracle is saying that?

James Love, Director, KEI

MySQL does not compete with Oracle.

You, of ALL people, Mr Director of KEI, should know better.

You are being misleading, I think intentionally misleading.

PostgreSQL may be considered competition, MySQL isn't. Anyone who has any sort of experience with database servers knows better. Only the completely ignorant person would consider these two software packages to be in the same class.

You've got your head stuck somewhere it shouldn't be I think, try pulling it out and getting a breath of fresh air.

Your entire argument falls about the instant you compare MySQL to Oracle as competing products. They are both database engines, the both speak an SQL like language. They both have rows and columns. Thats about where it ends.

No one is locked into Oracle without MySQL there are still plenty of alternatives. There is as I said, PostgreSQL, DB2, MS SQL, and if we're considering MySQL competition, you might as well include SQLite in the mix as well. Yes, thats a silly statement, but you've made it clear there being silly is part of the game you want to play. They all share some features and don't share all features. I could list PLENTY of other databases that would fall into your massively open requirements for being competing software products, but whats the point?

MySQL

Could it be that Oracle is saying that because they feel that hinting otherwise is a bad negotiating tactic?

If it seems like a foregone conclusion that Oracle would give up MySQL, then the EC would simply demand it.

Moving beyond this clearly debatable point, try looking beyond this acquisition event. What do you think the fate of MySQL will be if Oracle decides not to buy Sun? Will you have achieved some sort of victory for MySQL, its users, or FLOSS? Probably not.

Maybe you're trying to kill MySQL.

I do not agree to this.

In the text, it is stated that most users use the GPL version of MySQL. Meaning, that:
1) Whatever the owner of MySQL decides to do with the non-GPL version of the DB, would not affect most users.
2) A fork is perfectly possible, as the license specifically states.

By arguing to any of those two points, you are setting a problematic case for GPL code. First, every dual licensed program today will be affected, because you are putting in doubt the legality of dual GPL licensed code. And second, you are stating that GPL does not guarantee any freedom.

Why the dual license was not an issue before, at MySQL AB but it is now with Sun and Oracle?

Why is the GPLv2 an issue with MySQL and not with Linux?

Most MySQL users don't even care about who "owns" MySQL. They just care about were to download the latest version.

Why do you have so little faith in the GPL, license that you evangelize so much?... don't you see how much doubt you are creating around MySQL and the GPL that you yourself are the ones destroying it and making users turn to greener pastures?

RE: I do not agree to this

"By arguing to any of those two points, you are setting a problematic case for GPL code. First, every dual licensed program today will be affected, because you are putting in doubt the legality of dual GPL licensed code. And second, you are stating that GPL does not guarantee any freedom."

No, this does neither. It states that a healthy development of MySQL is less likely under Oracle. That is all it says.

"Why the dual license was not an issue before, at MySQL AB but it is now with Sun and Oracle?"

Sun is a company founded on FLOSS. It is one of the largest contributes of FLOSS. It's main software product, Java, is dual licensed. It's main revenue source during Sun's entire life has been selling hardware with a FLOSS OS.

Oracle has a history of being anti-FLOSS.

"Why is the GPLv2 an issue with MySQL and not with Linux?"

The reason this is not an issue with Linux is because there are so many CORPORATIONS that have a vested interest in putting LOTS of money into further development. Hundreds of millions of dollars are used in the continued development of Linux each year. Nothing other than a new OS that was in every way superior to Linux will change this.

MySQL on the other hand is a specific product that has exactly ONE main corporate developer, MySQL, which is now owned by Sun. If you remove this main partner you cut the funding dramatically. In addition, because database software is not as essential as a OS Kernel, you don't have as many entities with a vested interest in continued development that may cost millions. Lastly unlike the Linux Kernel, MySQL DOES have many competitors that are currently on equal standing.

"Most MySQL users don't even care about who "owns" MySQL. They just care about were to download the latest version."

Most users don't care who owns anything. Most users only care what features they get and how much they have to pay.

In this case, if Oracle gets MySQL and does what it has historically done, MySQL will have fewer features and be sold at a increased price.

"Why do you have so little faith in the GPL, license that you evangelize so much?... don't you see how much doubt you are creating around MySQL and the GPL that you yourself are the ones destroying it and making users turn to greener pastures?"

Again this has NOTHING to do with the GPL. This is a statement that the development of MySQL will be less productive if it is owned by Oracle. That is all it says.

I happen to agree with that.

RMS, get your nose out of it.

Let me see, on the one hand we have the founders of MySQL saying there is no problem and on the other side we have you. What's wrong RMS, feeling insignificant and unloved?

Your letter is pointless and irrelevant.

Feeling out done by the letter last week from the MySQL founders? Awww, your poor little boy.

Is Oracle a competitor to MySQL?

You might want to read Sun's "Project Peter" - a plan to migrate Oracle users to MySQL, and then reconsider why Oracle is interested in controlling MySQL.

James Love, Director, KEI

What authority has "Project Peter"?

What evidence do you have that "Project Peter" is anything more than an employee flying a kite at a brainstorming session? All you have is the slides; what was the context under which they were created, and when?

All the MySQL people I have ever spoken to say that MySQL is complementary to rather than competitive with Oracle's business, and my experience of both would confirm that. Competitive with Microsoft SQL Server, yes. Competitive with anything core to Oracle's business? No way.

Project Peter? Really scaring...

Ellison must have had really bad nightmares about that. 9 out of 95 "respondents" who seem to use Oracle have said to be willing to migrate to MySQL. Would like to know about the significance of this statistics. Even 2 out of 153 MySQL users have given the same (sane?) answer. Not to speak about the 3 that were willing to "decrease" their MySQL usage.

Do you really think Mr. Schumacher could convince 9% of Oracle's installed base to move by offering some cheapo assistance.

(Of course, I have to guess who was asked what question in the survey. Like everyone else.)

Is Oracle a competitor to MySQL?

Give me a break. Sun had absolutely no chance of stealing a significant number of Oracle customers.

RE : Is Oracle a competitor to MySQL?

Sun did the same when they came up with Java. Before that it was all about MS-Visual Studio.

This acquisition is more to do with how many users are going to be troubled by this? The answer is numerous. Hundreds of small companies are surviving and running there business thanks to these free software solutions.

If everything becomes proprietary then only big boys will be in the market and small business will die out.

postgresql is a far bigger threat to Oracle than MySQL

Mr. Love-
You might respectfully try running production database systems before reading Sun's marketing literature. MySQL as a replacement for Oracle? MySQL can't replace PostgreSQL. This opposition is just silly, but those of you signing this opposition obviously don't know much about databases. Please save the world your ridiculous opposition to the merger and let's hope that MySQL does go away, as PostgreSQL is a better-engineered, *COMPLETELY* free database under a BSD license. Also, it is far, far more likely to replace Oracle than MySQL, especially since the DDL and SQL are generally fairly close. MySQL is a fine low-end database, but it in no way has a material impact on Oracle sales. It also isn't nearly as free as PostgreSQL.

Now, MySQL users, please go to http://postgresql.org/ and migrate to a robust, free database and let Oracle have their second-rate, data-corrupting-under-heavy-load, pile of dual license code that is MySQL.

Switch to PostgreSQL, you'll be far happier and far more free. As in both beer and speech. Those of you signing this silly opposition, why don't you spend some time as systems admins, developers and dba's in the real world?

Which makes it clear they don't compete

If you read that page, just the summary it becomes clear that it takes a ton of effort to convert Oracle users to MySQL and requires extensive use of third party software to make it happen.

So in short, MySQL doesn't compete without a bunch of extra third party utilities that Oracle IS NOT buying. In short, this merger changes nothing about the Project Peter plan other than who owns the MySQL trademark.

As a conclusion ...

GPL is inadequate to ensure software freedom !

The rest of the conclusion

On its own, with software patents letting some organisations veto copyright-based licensing provisions as they see fit, the GPL isn't enough in isolation to guarantee the freedom of a piece of GPL-licensed code. That is why we need to eradicate software patents on a worldwide basis.

That may not have been the rationale behind your conclusion, but one day you'll understand how all the pieces fit together.

Huh?

And why has that got anything to do with this issue? Oracle has licensed OIN and thus barred itself from any patent action over MySQL or any other part of Linux.