MySQL daddy Widenius: Open-source religion won't feed MariaDB

Fork off, cash is king

Priest, image via Shutterstock

Interview MySQL daddy Monty Widenius has dismissed claims the MariaDB fork is veering away from open source.

Rather, the chief technology officer of MariaDB corporation called his firm’s embrace of a commercial licence for part of MariaDB "critical" to delivering new revenue and for the continued development of open-source software.

Widenius told The Register in an interview that he believes criticism of MariaDB’s commercial licence for its new database proxy sever, MaxScale 2.0, is motivated by a "religious" belief in free and open source software.

Not that Widenius is against the belief per se, he told The Register, it’s just: "Religion doesn't put meat on the table."

MariaDB last week released a MaxScale 2.0 beta under the Business Source License (BSL), which Widenius has been evangelising for the last four years. MaxScale provides high availability, scalability and security for MariaDB and for MySQL.

Unlike the Gnu General Public License (GPL), BSL requires those using MaxScale with three or more database servers to pay MariaDB for the privilege.

The change sparked anger and birthed an effort to fork a non BSL-edition of MaxScale.

The licence switch is slightly ironic given Widenius left former MySQL's former owner Sun Microsystems because he'd deemed development of the database server open “enough”.

"GPL [the licence used by MariaDB] is a fantastic licence, but it doesn't work for every project," Monty fired back at the critics. "I'm frustrated that people think I'm doing to this to be commercial; I'm doing this to have more open source.

"I find it ridiculous that companies that earn millions of dollars off of the code we created are annoyed because they don't want to pay anything back," the CTO of MariaDB Corporation told us.

"From a developer point-of-view, and a company point-of-view, the most important thing is that you don't have lock-in, and the biggest benefit with open source is no lock-in. For me, from a developer point-of-view, that's the biggest thing with open source," said Widenius.

"I don't have an issue paying for stuff, but I have an issue with not having the freedom to be in charge of my own destiny."

Monty said the revenue provided by MaxScale under the BSL would be "critical" for MariaDB, and that it would only affect one per cent of users. "We intentionally targeted licences so that only those with large installations with MariaDB would pay," he told us.

He also dismissed talk of forking MaxScale.

A fork, he said, simply failed to recognise what had incentivised the company to release it under the BSL in the first place: "You need eight people to work on this; even a fork is going to need money to develop it and put into it. There's no reason to do a fork."

There was neither a technical nor communal reason to create a fork, Widenius added, as the BSL ensured that previous versions of MaxScale were released under the GPL and completely free for the community to use and play with. The fork, according to Widenius, was announced solely for publicity.

MariaDB currently has eight staff members working on MaxScale and wants more, according to the MySQL man: "To be able to add more to development in both MaxScale and MariaDB, the BSL will be critical. We have received money from some companies to add features to MaxScale, but that doesn't come close to paying for it."

"The industry has needed something new that would eventually create more open source and still provide an income to companies developing software. BSL is created to fill that void and there's nothing exactly like it," added the CTO. ®


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