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MySQL founders launch MariaDB Foundation at Oracle

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MySQL’s co-founders are combining forces against Oracle with an independent organization to further the MariaDB fork started by Monty Widenius.

The MariaDB Foundation has been announced by David Axmark, Allan Larsson and Widenius with founding members also including SkySQL chief executive Patrik Sallner, the co-founder of MySQL support specialist Percona Peter Zaitsev, and Dan Shearer of the OpenChange and Samba teams.

The Foundation, which has applied for non-profit status in the US, has received €1m in initial backing. The founders will appoint a board and confirm bylaws next February.

Axmark said in a statement that MariaDB continues the work the trio started 18 years ago with MySQL, with code maintained by the same dedicated core team.

“The time is right for an independent organization to safeguard the interests of MariaDB users and developers,” he said.

The Foundation will review, merge, test and release changes to MariaDB and provide and infrastructure for the project and developer communities.

The Foundation described its mission to:

“Improve database technology, including standards implementation, interoperability with other databases, and building bridges to other types of database such as transactional and NoSQL.”

The Foundation didn’t mention Oracle specifically or in a competitive way, but it didn’t need to. Widenius has been a vocal critic of Oracle’s ownership of MySQL, speaking out against proprietary extensions that aren’t being added to the free code base, critical of what he claims is poor-quality MySQL code emanating from Oracle, and warning that Oracle will break promises it made to European regulators in 2009 over the future licensing and development of the database he helped start.

In an interview with The Reg last week, Widenius said he feared for the future of MySQL and for forks like MariaDB that he said are getting cut off by Oracle from the main code base. He fears a permanent, damaging split.

Widenius left MySQL's previous owner Sun Microsystems in 2009 before the Oracle deal to buy the struggling server maker was closed. He founded MariaDB the same year and since then his MySQL has been largely maintained by his own company Widenius’ Monty Program, with companies like SkySQL supporting customers use of MariaDB and MySQL. Both hired large numbers of the MySQL engineering team who left Oracle after the Sun acquisition.

Now, however, there seems to be a determined effort to spin up MariaDB into something along the lines of an independent and broadly supported project that builds the kind of critical mass that can turn MariaDB into the new MySQL.

Its path is well trodden in the open-source world against Oracle. Both the Jenkins project and the Document Foundation were created to run – respectively – forks of the Hudson continuous integration tool and the Open Office suite – Libre Office - after their new owner Oracle had claimed total ownership over their names and their development.

Oracle’s decision forced the majority of the Hudson community and Open Office members to walk out and to create their new projects, that were mirrors of the existing projects with different names and most of the same members.

Stung by this, Oracle has since passed Hudson to Eclipse and Open Office to Apache. Both Jenkins and Libre Office, though, have continued to thrive, draining support and use from the original efforts. ®

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