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Monday October 05, 2020 |Notes

MySQL has remained open source for 25 years

MySQL is one of the world's most popular databases and powers many of the top websites, as well as countless small projects. After being developed as an open source project in 1995, it was acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2008. When Oracle acquired Sun in 2010, one of the original developers, Michael "Monty" Widenius forked the project as MariaDB, out of concerns about the future of the open source nature of MySQL under Oracle's ownership.

Although MySQL is still widely used — Db-engines.com ranks it as the third most popular RDBMS after Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server, compared to MariaDB coming in at #35 — Widenius still believes the database has a bleak future under Oracle's stewardship.

Oracle's treatment of MySQL and its community since its purchase of Sun has proved Widenius' original fears correct, the developer says. Not mincing words, Widenius says that Oracle has made it clear "that they have no love for open source, working with the community, or MySQL in general".

Oracle has a poor reputation among open source supporters, and the company regularly resorts to intellectual property lawsuits. However, MySQL has remained open-source for the duration of its 25 years lifespan, the last 10 under Oracle's ownership. While articles occasionally popup warning of problems to come, Oracle has continued to support the software and make updates available for free.

MySQL is one of the most meaningful open-source projects in the history of technology and it's commendable that Oracle has not dropped support for new versions. Considering the widespread usage, there's clearly ongoing demand for MySQL and any changes could cause significant issues.

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