Article on NewsForge
A while ago, people from the major Open Source database systems have met to form the Open Source Database Consortium – that was in October 2005.
OK, that’s not that long ago, but I hope that the ambitions to co-operate aren’t over again. It was told that a website will be created at www.osdbconsortium.org.
There’s nothing to see except a “Just a web page” note. I haven’t heard any news about this since October – I believe, it would be nice if MySQL, PostgreSQL, Firebird etc. could do some things together. That would certainly be more welcoming than any deal with a proprietary database vendor.
Read more on :Markus Popp’s blog
Some more links so you can spend your whole day reading news 🙂
Pressure on MySQL increases as Oracle purchases Sleepycat, with more to come
Users unworried by Oracle’s purchase of Sleepycat
Don’t cry for me oh mySQL (the truth is Oracle can’t have you)
The Oracle “monopoly”
Oracle Acquires HotSip AB
I’ve recently written two articles on this topic for Database Journal, the earlier, written after the InnoDB purchase, entitled Oracle’s purchase of InnoDB, their release of Oracle Express, and the effect on MySQL, and the most recent, just after the Sleepycat purchase, entitled Pressure on MySQL increases as Oracle purchases Sleepycat, with more to come.
Since I only do a monthly column for Database Journal, and things change quite quickly, I thought I’d post a few more thoughts on the topic.
Brazilian ActiveDelphi magazine (edition #24) has a cover article about acessing Firebird with Delphi 2006 using the Firebird .Net Provider.
Here’s another research paper I wrote on specific business influences on all of our favorite open source database companies, Business Factors in Open Source Database Companies
This is a reply from Ann Harrison posted in Firebird-Support list:
Michael Fisher wrote:
Could the situation that happened to MySQL happen to Firebird? Could a company like Oracle start buying up aspects of Firebird? An overview of the situation with Firebird would be very helpful.
There are a number of differences between Firebird and MySQL (understatement of the week). Those difference would make it difficult or impossible for a company to buy part or all of Firebird.
One is that the copyright to each module of Firebird’s code rests with the developer who created it – the Initial Developer of the Initial Developers Public License. MySQL and InnoDB required that developers sign over all rights to a corporation, giving an acquirer a single target.
To attack Firebird, Oracle would have to buy rights from many individuals.
Another difference is that Firebird operates under a single open source license. MySQL is dual licensed GPL and commercial, as is InnoDB. Oracle’s purchase of InnoDB doesn’t affect MySQL’s GPL business, but does put Oracle in the position to set terms for the commercial side of MySQL’s use of InnoDB.
If Oracle were to buy the rights to all code created by Roman Rokytskyy, JayBird would still be available under a license that allows its use with Firebird in all situations that are currently allowed.
Yet another difference is that Firebird’s code base is integral – MySQL has a more modular approach, using backend plug-ins. That lead to serious specialization. Many people on the Firebird project are familiar with most aspects of the code – the loss of one individual would not leave large sections of Firebird indecipherable.
If Oracle were to buy Roman’s code and hire Roman, others would pick up the existing code for Jaybird and continue to maintain and enhance it. Oracle would be under no obligation to share changes it made to Jaybird in the future – that obligation falls on subsequent contributors but not on the original contributor, but we would continue with a fork.
Basically, Oracle’s buying InnoDB and SleepyCat is a problem for MySQL – to the extent that it is a problem – because of their dual GPL / commercial license. EnterpriseDB and the other commercializations of PostgreSQL exist because of the very open license that PostgreSQL uses – there is no obligation to publish changes to the code, so they can produces “better” versions using their own “secret ingredients.”
Firebird’s license is between those two. We can’t make money selling commercial licenses, but we can’t be attacked by a third party restricting our right to make commercial use of code they acquire. We require that anyone who distributes changes to the code publish the changes, so no one can create a special secret “turboFirebird.”
There’s a risk that someone will decide that all our developers are wonderfully talented people and hire them away, but every software development organization faces that risk, and Firebird has a good record of bringing on and integrating new developers.
Hope this is moderately clear ….
Today it became generally known that MySQL has aquired a company called Netfrastructure. This company offers a product which is a reimplementation of the Firebird database architecture, combined with a web-based application server front end. It was designed by Jim Starkey in the late nineties and combines a database, a custom java virtual machine and a web server. Jim Starkey is also the principal author of Datatrieve, Rdb/ELN and InterBase, which became Firebird after being open-sourced in 2000.
Since the aquisition of InnoDB, by Oracle, MySQL has been in a difficult position: InnoDB was the centre piece of its 5.0 release. It has been discussed extensively in the Firebird community that MySQL should make a strategic move and use Firebird as its enterprise level relational/transactional engine.
MySQL chose this path — in a round-about sort of way — by making the aquisition of Netfrastructure and hiring Jim Starky, owner of Netfrastructure. Jim had recently been contributing to the Firebird project, under contract by one of the project’s sponsoring companies.
This move by MySQL validates that Firebird has the most mature and featured full open source code base and seems to indicate that the MySQL database product will be moving in similar paths from now on. MySQL also stands a lot to gain from the fact that the Firebird project has about 50 developers working on this architecture and helping to drive it into the future. The Firebird project gains from a well-known name and large sales force introducing its technology to customers world-wide.
Market researcher Evans reported early in 2005 that MySQL was used by 40% of developers, immediately followed by Firebird with 39%. The acquisition means that the Firebird architecture will be the most popular on the planet with a very large margin.
A lot of work will probably need to go into getting MySQL and the technology behind Netfrastructure to work together. A lot of testing will also be needed since, due to the low number of deployments of Netfrastructure, its finesses remain largely unproven.
It will be interesting to see how MySQL clients will react to this move and the eventual downgrade of InnoDB support. Will they wait until MySQL completes the Netfrastructure port, or will they choose to move to Firebird directly?
Jim Starkey, the original creator of InterBase which became Firebird, just made it publicly known that he now works for MySQL AB.
My company, Netfrastructure, Inc., has been acquired by MySQL, AB. As
part of the agreement, I will be working full time for MySQL. I expect
to lurk on the architecture list from time to time and may contribute
the occasional wolf-o-gram, but I will not be taking an active part in
Firebird development. Although Ann will work for MySQL, part time,
translating from wolf to English, she will continue to be active in the
My decision to join MySQL has almost nothing to do with Firebird and everything to do with Netfrastructure. The Netfrastructure platform represents what I feel about contemporary computing hardware and future application requirements, and has been the center of my technical heart and soul for six year. Some aspects of Netfrastructure technology have already been contributed to the Vulcan project, but Firebird and Netfrastructure are architecturally incompatible. An attempt to integrate the technologies would be unlikely to meet the goals of either project.
MySQL and Firebird have never seen each other as competitors and I doubt this will change in the future. The projects have different open source philosophies, different technologies, different customer bases, and different sweet spots. The ideas behind the two projects are, happily, public and available to all. If MySQL and Firebird compete, it is only competition in offering the best possible support to their respective customers.
I am pleased to have had the opportunity to finish the Vulcan project. The combination of Vulcan SMP and architecture combined the rich feature set of Firebird 2 will make a solid release and a superb platform for future development.
I wish the Firebird project all the best in years to come. And if you need an opinion, please feel free to call.
Site editor note: Is this your first contact with Firebird? I invite you to read the “Get to know Firebird in 2 minutes” paper and find out why Firebird is so special!
Real revolutions, the ones that last, are often quiet ones.
They aren’t shocking. They don’t rock the world. They just change the world so slowly that it’s only when you wake up one day and think about it, you realize the world isn’t the same anymore.