My SQL Dump

MySQL musings by a self professed MySQL Geek

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If you really want to "save" MySQL, start by encouraging them to release their docs under the GPL
I've talked about this before, but I think it bears repeating as we enter a new year. Sun has still not released the MySQL documentation under the GPL license, or any other free license. It's still not legal to modify and republish the database documentation. This hurts projects like XtraDB, MariaDB, Kickfire, Infobright and other companies which either have forked the GPL licensed version of MySQL, or entered into a proprietary license agreement with Sun.

These companies can't update the documentation to reflect the changes and enhancements which they have made to MySQL. I can't take the docs and publish changes or annotations without violating the license agreement for the docs.

If Sun wants to claim that MySQL is true open source then they must open source the documentation. If Oracle wants to claim that there is plenty of competition in the database market, they should be forced to open source the documentation.

It boils down to this: The current documentation license scheme hurts a fork's ability to compete in the market by denying them a core part of the MySQL product - the documentation.

If the playing field isn't level between MySQL forks and Sun, how can their be a level playing field in the rest of the market?

(Deleted comment)
MySQL won't negotiate on the issue, or at least that is how I understand it from secondhand knowledge at Kickfire. I ended up having to write a good chunk of the technical manual at Kickfire.

Regardless of the proprietary code bases, the organizations which have forked codebases are certainly at an unfair advantage when compared to the Sun.

To Sun. I'm not comparing anything to the ball of fire in the sky :)

Well, one problem with that analogy is that these other products wouldn't even exist if the MySQL code itself wasn't open source. If Sun opens the documents then what reason would anyone have with keeping with their product over a derivative? It's a bargaining chip, sort of the same way the Firefox logo is copyright Mozilla so they can control that much.

I don't think Sun has to do anything so far as giving other people their documentation. It would be nice, but that's as far as I would be willing to go in the debate.

Sun sells support services, the MySQL monitoring suite, consulting services,etc. There are reasons to stick with MySQL over say, MariaDB, which doesn't have the resources of Sun.

Sun also maintains trademark to the MySQL name, as well as to the familiar dolphin logo. Kickfire originally named its appliance "The Kickfire MySQL Appliance", which I told them repeatedly would be a problem, but they ignored me. You'll now notice it is called the "Kickfire Analytic Appliance".

I think not releasing the documentation violates the spirit of the GPL if not the letter of it.

Also keep in mind that every Kickfire appliance comes with a MySQL enterprise license! Kickfire/Inforbright/Sun are all PARTNERS, yet they don't get to change and redistribute the docs.

And BTW, Infobright and Kickfire are very different in this respect. Infobright is selling software and services, while Kickfire is selling a hardware appliance that is bundled with software modified to work with the hardware.

When I worked there I argued that Kickfire should release the code to the "bridge" between MySQL and Kickfire, but it is actually quite proprietary given that it is interfacing with specialized hardware, and therefore it would be of very little benefit to the community.

The BRITEHOUSE storage engine works on commodity hardware. Infobright has open sourced their "bridge" already, which benefits the community as it is targeted towards software interfaces.

The KFDB storage engine can't work without a Kickfire SQL chip. I hope that Kickfire eventually opens up the interface specifications for the chip, and allows other software to leverage its capabilities, but until that happens, releasing the software would be useless since it will only run on the Kickfire hardware.

Both Kickfire and Infobright could both benefit from being able to modify and redistribute the MySQL documentation.

Re: level?


2010-01-07 06:18 am (UTC)


You may be surprised, but having talk with couple closed sources engines vendors, I was told, that the actual deal is that Sun prohibits them to open source code. The commercial license is granted only with condition that source code never will be published.


(Deleted comment)

Re: level?


2010-01-07 03:17 pm (UTC)


There is no standard agreement and the details are highly negotiable.

Well then, let's write our own


2010-01-07 04:36 am (UTC)

It is time for the community to write documentation.

It is time for the community to develop some leadership and get behind a fork.

The current "leaders" both community and corporate are not particularly worthy of the task.

Take up a collection, hire a writer to get some docs together.

Justin, actually, you *can* legally annotate the MySQL documentation.

At the bottom of every MySQL documentation page (not the table of contents, such as, but everywhere else, such as ) is a link to "Add your comment."

So you *can*, in fact, legally annotate the MySQL documentation.

I do agree that MySQL should open source their docs, but that's a tricky battle, as they have enough problems with old crufty mirrors that contain outdated documentation. Now imagine someone modifies the docs and it's not obvious that it is not for MySQL, but for their own product. It's going to be more problematic for them.

I don't like it, but I understand why it's tricky -- they're already having issues because they allow people to mirror the docs, and some mirrors are years out of date.

Being able to post a comment on Sun's page is not the same as annotating and republishing.

If I were to republish the manual, I would eliminated the ORDER BY RAND() example. Thats one amongst a million changes I'd like to make.

If the docs were in wiki format maybe it would be acceptable, but just being able to add comments is not.

The community docs problem


2010-01-12 07:41 pm (UTC)


I've thought about the "community writes their own documentation" problem before. I don't think it will ever work:

People enhance MySQL to fill their own selfish needs - that's the way Open Source works. Nobody benefits directly by writing good, detailed documentation.

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