Monty Responds

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 18, 2009

Michael "Monty" Widenius wrote a nicely-worded response to my previous post "Oracle, Mysql and the GPL: don't take Monty's word for it", and I thought it deserves more visibility, so I'm quoting it below. For the record, I'm not an Oracle "fan" and am in agreement with Steven O'Grady, who wrote that Monty mostly just wants to get the band back together and is pursuing the shortest path to that destination. I can't fault him for that. What I objected to was what I felt was a conflict of interest that hadn't been seirously reported. That, and I really dislike how this brouhaha has resulted in unfair attacks on the GPL and dual-licensing in general.

Without further ado, here is Monty's response:

First, I have never said that the GPL is a bad license. In my blog, I say "I think that GPL is a fantastic license" and I mean it.

What I said is that for an infrastructure project like MySQL, who in this context is comparable to a library, GPL is a bad license in a hand of an owner that has much to gain by killing the project as an Open Source project.

You can fork a GPL infrastructure project, but not the economics around it. For a project like MySQL, it's almost impossible for a fork to generate enough money to ensure it's developed in a manner that the environment need and it can't be used with all applications. This means that the project has no long term future. That is what I wrote about in my blog that I refereed to above.

It's true that Joomla - Mambo was forked, but this is not a project that lives in a concentrated market with fierce competition and where they are often combined with closed source distributed application (which is the case of MySQL).

As earlier pointed out, the GPL does not forbid the dual license approach.

EC has come to the conclusion that MySQL and Oracle are competing products and MySQL puts price pressures on Oracle. (This can be deduced as EC issued a statement of objection because of MySQL).

To be able to approve the deal the EC has to ensure that Oracle / Sun / MySQL deal there is as much competition in the database market as before the deal.

In this scenario, there has only been proposed two viable solutions (that I know about):

1) MySQL is divested to another company or foundation that also can sell licensing to ensure that MySQL can be used by all applications and with all extensions.

2) MySQL license is changed to a permissive license, so that if Oracle stops supporting it, someone can fork it, continue the development and compete with Oracle in all segments.

In case 2) no one can do dual licensing on the MySQL code. Not Oracle, Monty Program Ab or anyone else.

It's true that 2) would allow an application vendor to combine their closed source code with MySQL freely (like Enterprise DB is doing), which is good as this would allow MySQL and PostgreSQL to compete on equal licensing terms.

This case has nothing to do about any company loosing money (except anyone using MySQL who may soon have to start paying for upgrades). This case is about ensuring that Oracle doesn't gain money and market share by killing an Open Source competitor. Today MySQL, tomorrow PostgreSQL.

Yes, PostgreSQL can also be killed; To prove the case, think what would happen if someone managed to ensure that the top 20 core PostgreSQL developers could not develop PostgreSQL anymore or if each of these developers would fork their own PostgreSQL project.

Yes, I agree that I have a conflict of interest; I don't only want to ensure that competition will continue in the database market, I also want to ensure that MySQL keeps on living as a successful Open Source project. If Oracle gets MySQL under the current terms, that is not likely to happen.

When it comes to money, Monty Program Ab has more to gain if Oracle gets MySQL than if MySQL is divested (as pointed out by Kurt: and we would then get more money to put into developing MariaDB.

However, as Monty Program Ab is a company that is in effect (thanks to the Hacking business model) owned by it's employees, I have no notable financial gains to get from saving MySQL; In the best case I may get the money back that I now put into trying to save MySQL and develop MariaDB, but even this is not very likely. After 9 months of work, we still have burn rate of 100,000 euro per month, even if some of us is not lifting any salary; This is the reality when doing a fork and which is why it's almost impossible to succeed with one for a big infrastructure project like MySQL!

The conclusion is: I am probably putting in more money and time than anyone else into trying to ensure that MySQL is kept alive as an open Source Project and to ensure that the developers of MySQL gets a good home where they can spend all their time producing Open Source code (we are committed to only do Open Source code, which can easily be verified at

As you can easily verify on the weg site, we are 100 % open in everything we do and we don't have any hidden agenda. Why should we, life is so much easier when you are transparent!

I don't know enough about what happened at MySQL to say unequivocally that he got a raw deal there, but there are many people who hold that opinion. Because he's a founder of MySQL, I'm sympathetic to the cause of most founders - they too often find themselves on the wrong end of the success spectrum, even when the company or project they helped found finds monumental success. I don't think that holding both opinions - that the "save MySQL" effort is misguided and that a founder of MySQL may have been given a raw deal - is mutually exclusive. I respect the passion of the MySQL community and why they're doing this, but I object to the potential fallout.