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Apple vanishes MySQL from Mac OS X Lion Server

Postgres fills Ellisonian black hole

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Apple has removed MySQL from the latest version of Mac OS X server, replacing it with PostgreSQL.

The previous version of the OS – Snow Leopard Server – offered access to MySQL from both the GUI and the command line, but the open source database has disappeared entirely from Mac OS X Lion Server, released last week. Postgres is there, but it's available only from the command line.

EnterpriseDB – the outfit that has commercialized the open source PostgreSQL – says it was unaware of the change until Lion hit the Apple Store, and the company indicates that it has had no involvement with Apple when it comes to the inclusion of Postgres with Mac OS X Lion. "We weren't working with them directly on this," vice president of business development Sean Doherty tells The Reg.

Dohery and Karen Tegan Padir, vice president of products and marketing at EnterpriseDB, speculate that Apple has removed MySQL from the OS because the relational database has fallen into the hands of Oracle. "Apple has always been known not to favor GPL licensed software," Padir says. "It seems that they're worried about IP issues, especially in light of Oracle's lawsuit against Google and Android over Java."

Oracle filed suit against Google a year ago, accusing the web giant of deliberately infringing various Java-related patents and copyrights that Larry Ellison and company acquired with its purchase of Sun Microsystems. The suit asserted seven patents, claiming infringement by Android's Dalvik virtual machine, the Android software development kit, and other parts of the mobile operating system.

Like MySQL, Java is open sourced under the GPL, but Google's use of Java is vastly different from Apple's use of MySQL in past versions of Mac OS X Server. Google built its own Java virtual machine, Dalvik, and Java's licensing includes "field of use" (FOU) restrictions that prevent the closed source Java Technology Compatibility Kits (TCKs) from running on mobile devices.

But Padir and Doherty also argue that separate from any legal threat, Oracle's approach is open source development is, at best, unclear. "The roadmap of MySQL is uncertain," Padir says. "Sun had an open source strategy. Oracle's strategy is all about business."

Padir points out that Postgres is under a BSD-style license, which is more lenient than the GPL. And naturally, she argues that Postgres is simply a better database. "Postgres has a better security model, greater high-availability options, better developer support. You can write stored procedures in multiple languages," she says.

In any event, Apple has removed the open source MySQL from Mac OS X Server. If you wish to use MySQL with the latest version of the OS, you'll have to install it yourself. Some people aren't too happy about this, but we would advise them to read the writing on the wall.

Apple no longer sells physical XServe servers, and the OS now sells for a mere $50 – $450 less than the previous version. Apple is very much a consumer company, and though it continues to develop Mac OS X Server, you get the feeling this could end at any time. The OS's Server Admin tools are no longer installed by default, and though the new Server App is meant to replace them, the general consensus is it doesn't quite do so.

"MySQL and the server admin tools gone from Lion Server? Is this a joke? Is Apple really serious about servers?" writes one user on the Apple support forums.

The answer to that question is a resounding "no". ®

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