by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Will MySQL Keep Lighting up LAMP?

Apr 17, 20084 mins

MySQL leader Marten Mickos tries to calm Linux leaders' fears of MySQL abandoning the Linux market.

For an executive who had just had his company bought for a cool billion a few months ago and was on the eve of announcing a major update to his business’ flagship database program, former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos, now Sun Microsystems’ senior vice president for databases, didn’t look comfortable. Mickos had come to the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit on April 9 at the University of Texas Super Computing Center to explain that MySQL was not about to abandon Linux. His audience, the movers and shakers of Linux business and development circles, were not overly impressed.


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The pro-Linux crowd of 200-plus were worried that now, with Sun in charge of MySQL, Sun’s focus would be on creating a SAMP (Solaris, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python) software ecosystem instead of supporting the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python) stack, which has enabled Linux to gain $21 billion worth of traction in the server market.

For more on Sun’s acquisition of MySQL, see Sun Acquires MySQL: Impact on the CIO?

There was northing subtle about this concern. During his keynote address, Mickos was asked by an audience member if Sun/MySQL was still committing to keeping Linux as one of its prime operating systems. Mickos replied that Sun/MySQL was “still committed to Linux.” After all, Mickos added, “If we aren’t committed, then any one of you can take the MySQL code and fork it to make a new MySQL product, which I am sure you would do if Sun tried to convert LAMP to SAMP.”

That quip was well received by the audience. All things considered, though, as several Linux and ISV (independent software vendor) developers said after the speech, they’d just as soon not fork MySQL. As one ISV, who didn’t wish to be named, said, “Maintaining a DBMS (database management system) is hard work, and it’s not the work I’m getting paid to do. We need MySQL to do its work in Linux so we can do our work with LAMP.”

Mickos also used lines from the Sun executive playbook about how “Sun can claim to be the biggest open-source contributor in the world.” That did not go over as well with this audience. For all the major contributions Sun has made to open source OpenSolaris and Java, the Linux community still remembers Sun’s conflicts with Red Hat and former Sun CEO Scott McNealy’s disdain for Linux.

More recently, although Mickos repeatedly mentioned Sun’s support for GPLv3—the latest version of the popular open-source General Public License—Linux developers remain suspicious of Sun’s licensing model. In particular, several developers expressed concerns about the effect of Sun’s CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License), which is used with OpenSolaris. Their concerns are that if Sun makes improvements in MySQL under the CDDL, it will restrict their the users’ ability to use new versions of MySQL with their applications. For businesses, of course, the concern is whether they’ll continue to get the promised improvements in LAMP application from MySQL improvements in a timely fashion.

Some of the Linux developers’ and business customers’ jitters may have been settled on April 15th when, at the MySQL Conference in San Francisco, Sun announced the next version of MySQL: MySQL 5.1. This edition, which is now available as a release candidate, is still under the Linux-friendly GPLv2.

For more on GPL versions, see The Manager’s View of GPL Version 3: Two (and a Half) Things to Like and Two More to Look Out For.

Perhaps more important, from the viewpoint of Linux users, the release candidate is available on all of MySQL’s supported Linux hardware platforms. So, for example, businesses that use Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server or Linux on IBM’s Power or S/390 architectures, all will be working with the most up-to-date version of MySQL.

According to a press statement by Mickos, MySQL 5.1 will run “up to 15 percent faster than previous versions in our own internal tests—making it a compelling solution for demanding Web-based enterprise applications”—it promises to be attractive not just to Linux developers but to any business that depends on LAMP stacks.

For now, at least, there seems to be no concrete reason for LAMP programmers or enterprise users to worry about the future of LAMP applications. While Sun may have had problems with Linux, its continued partnership with Red Hat, its new server partnership with Ubuntu and Mickos’ statements, it’s clear that Sun/MySQL’s recent actions all point to a long and prosperous life for LAMP.