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Will Oracle kill MySQL? Who cares?

MySQL's already killing itself

Fail and You When Oracle bought Sun last week, the MySQL community collectively curled its lip into a worried sneer. Is Oracle going to kill MySQL? We'll have to wait and see.

Oracle's acquisition of MySQL isn't like a lottery ticket. There is no chance that MySQL will get significantly better by leveraging some of Oracle's technology. MySQL developers and practitioners are worried because the only outcomes of this uncertainty are either neutral or negative. Is this growth on my pancreas benign? We'll have to wait and see.

Oracle has a clumsy history when it comes to open source. In October of 2005, they acquired Innobase, the company that makes the InnoDB storage engine for MySQL. InnoDB powers any serious installation of MySQL because it supports transactions and generally acts like more of a grown-up than MySQL's default storage engine, MyISAM.

When Oracle bought Innobase, we heard the same kind of worries. Does this mean the end for MySQL in enterprise applications? It turns out that all of these concerns were unfounded. Oracle continued to support and develop InnoDB, without dropping the car keys into its pants and telling MySQL that if she wanted to get home, she's got to fish them out. They managed to keep InnoDB's dual-licensing structure: The product is GPL'ed, but if you want to buy a commercial license for it, you're more than welcome to.

After Innobase, Oracle bought Sleepycat Software in 2006. Sleepycat produces BerkeleyDB, which is the de facto standard for embedded databases. BerkeleyDB was also distributed under this dual license, which made more sense for embedded software than it did for something service-oriented like InnoDB. Oracle continues to develop and support BerkeleyDB, but uses it as a starting point to up-sell customers on its TimesTen embedded database and Oracle 11g.

Thus far, Oracle's open source strategy resembles a sixteen year old boy putting his complete mental capacity to work trying to figure out how to get high off of household chemicals. There's got to be some magical incantation of Drano, bleach, and kitchen spices that'll do the trick. Well, maybe not. Can we market our way into open source profit? Surely if we set a team of graphic designers and ad-men on the task, they can do better than the engineers.

As such, Oracle's next stab at open source was Unbreakable Linux. Unbreakable Linux is a distribution that's 100 per cent binary compatible with Red Hat, except it comes with a heaping helping of Larry Ellison's honey butter. From what I can gather, Unbreakable is nothing more than a marketing campaign around a Linux support program, the main selling points of which are:

  • It's UNBREAKABLE. FUCK YEAH LINUX. You need to buy this bitch right now
  • Look at this fucking Linux distribution. This distribution is more awesome than your life will ever be, so kill yourself right now, but not before buying some of this shit so that you can be remembered as a hero
  • This fucker will never break down but if it does we'll come over to your house and fix that shit right away. We got your ass, bro
  • They tried, but didn't really make a dent in Red Hat's bottom line

So, considering Oracle's open source track record, what's going to happen to MySQL?

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