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It's been a tough week for MySQL. The Open Source community is beating them up for a licensing deal with SCO, and then Oracle acquired Innobase, who just so happens to provide a key piece of MySQL's software.  This isn't the first time Forbes - a purveyor of capitalism - has pointed out the schism in the open source community as we see more commercialization of open source. I always find it interesting to step away from the tech/dev press to see the viewpoint of the guys who wear suits during the week. We know there lots and lots o' VC money going toward open source start ups and it'll be interesting to see how these business models (not circa 1999 bubble) play with the more religious side of the open source communicty.


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  • 'Commercialization of open source'
    By Martin MC Brown
    Oct 15 2005 - 2:31am

    Just occasionally you read something and then have to re-read just to make sure that it said what you read the first time round.

    Well, a recent post on the Windows Server Division Weblog this morning has had me reading the same single paragaph so many times I've lost count.

    The whole thing is only a paragraph long. You can read the original here, but I'll pull out the line that drew my attention.

    This isn't the first time Forbes - a purveyor of capitalism - has pointed out the schism in the open source community as we see more commercialization of open source.

    First up, schism? Although there are purests in the open source world who believe that all software should be free, the reality is that the companies and individuals who dedicate their life to developing software need money to survive. Programmers have families, mouths to feed and need somewhere to live; these are simple practicalities of modern living.

    Second the phrase 'commercialization of open source' makes it sound sound as if the two terms are mutually exclusive. It also implies that there are two camps in the software world - open source ('free') and commercial - and they are two sides of the same coin that are suddenly heading for an amazing clash.

    I have repeated many times - and I'll continue to do so until the relationship sinks in - free software is not a reference to its monetary value or cost.

    Free and/or open source software is about giving people the choice to use software where they can see the code, adapt the code, customize and, most important of all, contribute code to a community helping to improve the quality of the software.

    There is nothing to stop companies making money from open source software. For some, MySQL for example, it enables the company to add value to the open source software they provide. In MySQL's case, paying for a license provides you with the professional support and help. You use the same software as those downloading the source, but you get the professional help and support to help you get the best out of the application.

    Other companies do the same - RedHat, SUSE, IBM and many others all provide additional benefits if you pay for their open source software. If the community weren't happy with that situation, these companies would have failed and disappeared years ago, with or without VC funding.

    'Commercialization of open source' is not, as Patrick suggests, a problem.

    What we really have in the software world are two camps, just not the ones Patrick implies. What we have is open source and proprietary. Either of these can be commercial, the difference is in the availability of the code and the community that uses it.

    In the proprietary camp, we have people like Microsoft. When something goes wrong with a Microsoft application the only people who can fix it are Microsoft. The only way that improvements can be made to the software is if Microsoft deem them important enough to include in the next version. As to a community, there are limits to what the community around Microsoft software can do. For example, you can create templates for Word, but you cannot change the way those templates are displayed, or improve the way templates are applied to a given document.

    There are limited communities around Microsoft software because of the limitations imposed by the proprietary model. You'll find individuals willing to help you use Word, provide templates, macros and other components. What we don't have is a community willing to help improve the quality or facilities of the software, quite simply because they can't.

    This blog post is, unfortunately, just another example of why Microsoft are so anti-open source; they don't understand the concept, or the benefits, of the open source model. It's also clear that Microsoft do not comprehend the difference between 'commercial' and 'proprietary'. They have no idea of the benefits that a community can bring to an open source software project.

    But what this statement explains most of all is that Microsoft cannot see any monetary value in the open source model, and that is what will keep Microsoft firmly in the proprietary camp.

  • Wow, yet another monkey trapped by the corporate software mentality defending his master. Congrats to you. Now if you honestly think innobase provides a key component to mysql you've either been misinformed, or completely incapable of reading the source code for yourself to verify this claim.

    Transactions and views are supported in other db formats other then inno. Innobase is owned by Oracle, who cares as long as mysql can use the db? Even if they can't there are alternative formats that will work just as well. The higher level functions are part of mysql itself, not the db.

    But I'm sure if we all get on our knees and beg the mighty bill gates he will welcome us to his warm loving world of paying for air, getting hacked, virused and exporting money to the americans so they can go around starting wars. Yup, more like an exploitation system then an operating system.

    Oh and nice to see you guys finally are getting symlinks, welcome to the 80s.

  • I might be mistaken, but you guys also invested in SCO... and I guess that we should hate you for that.

    Oh, wait. We already do.

  • Shouldn't be a big problem for MySQL to drop support for Innobase and still be sucessful with MyISAM and other engines. If it came to that,

    Think about this, Innobase had a open source license which means that now Oracle must provide source if they incorporate it. Anyone hear the evil laughter in the background?

  • LOL. this is why No ONE should take opensource seriously. Jesus! MySQL is not allow to make money on their software.

    i love 'em slashdoters mindset. It's amusing.

  • To Jack:

    What... are you on crack? Illiterate? Stupid? Nowhere in any GPL or LGPL license is there any clause that states you can not make money from a product.. nowhere.

    Lord spare me the fools I must suffer.