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Sun promises agenda-free MySQL development agenda

Version 5.1 yearns to be bigger

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MySQL User Conference MySQL owners past and present opened the annual user's conference to re-assure them Sun Microsystems has no hidden agenda for the open source database.

Sun chief executive Jonathan Schwartz and software executive vice president Rich Green pledged it's not just business as usual for MySQL - they'll also commit Sun's engineering resources, sales and global support.

Tackling concerns of a Sun agenda, given the company’s systems background and existing support for Postgres, Schwartz said the "secret plot" is simply to figure out how to serve the community. Green, speaking moments before, said: "The plan is the plan until there's a new plan - there is no plan."

Former MySQL chief executive Marten Mickos said MySQL is "better off" with Sun through work on performance and scalability, and highlighted integration with Sun's open source Java application server and Java Enterprise Edition reference implementation, GlassFish.

He cautioned, though, changes would not come immediately.

"There's an enormous breadth and depth of engineering skill in Sun to make the database work faster - threading, memory management, I/O. It will take time - those things don't happen over night. It will take a year or two or three," Mickos said

It's the first MySQL user show since Sun's $1bn acquisition. Opening the event, Mickos proclaimed he's loving the acquisition and work at Sun. Mickos is now Sun’s database group senior vice president, in charge of the company’s work on Postgres. Postres is regarded by many developers as better on performance and scale - relieve terms - than MySQL, but generally weaker on ease of use.

"Maybe I'm still in the honeymoon period," Mickos said. "This is a $1bn vote for the LAMP stack."

Announced at the show was the MySQL 5.1 release candidate, featuring a number of bug fixes and bread-and-butter database features targeting enterprise deployment.

MySQL 5.1 is expected by the end of June, instead of the first quarter. The company feels the features in this qualify the product for a version 5.5 or 6.0 label, but is sticking with the 5.1 iteration.

Mickos told the conference his team is being "much harder" on themselves as version 5.0 hadn't reached their quality standards. MySQL took flack for version 5.0 for bugs and poor features.

Version 5.1 includes a number of major improvements, although there are some limitations in certain areas.

There's table/index partitioning but partitioning is not parallel and the partitioning key has to be numeric. Also, there's row-based/hybrid replication but the company said this doesn't work so well with non-deterministic functions, which is one reason why MySQL has introduced both mixed or hybrid replication as the default - so the system will chose the best approach to take. These are issues MySQL has promised to fix in future versions.

Also announced was a visual-based, drag-and-drop database design tool for modeling, build and change management called MySQL Workbench 5.0. Capabilities include the ability to synchronize databases, HTML and text reporting, and the ability to reverse engineer code - important features particularly when dealing with undocumented, legacy code.

The tool is available in two editions, Community and Standard Edition, with the latter charged under a $99 annual subscription for Windows. Linux and OS X versions are in development, although there was no word on delivery. MySQL Workbench is intended to replace the need to write MySQL scripts.®

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