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MySQL documentation – sudden license change

It will be both interesting and scary to see what is going to happen with MySQL. Oracle has suddenly changed the license of man pages distributed with MySQL 5.5.31 – from GPL to a commercial one (pretty lengthy text). I strongly recommend reading the following blog post on MariaDB’s web page for more details: https://blog.mariadb.org/mysql-man-pages-silently-relicensed-away-from-gpl/.

The situation is clear that Oracle wishes to monetize on their acquisition (and MySQL was a part of it) – that means millions of current MySQL user might be forced to switch to alternative products, like MariaDB or PerconaDB (and of course PostgreSQL is also an option especially for new projects). I have seen a lot of comments, where people said that Oracle “might keep the core open sourced and provide remaining functionality via payware plugins”. The scary part was, that the core would be an absolute minimum – and in the business sense – something pretty much unusable, forcing people to buy payware plugins.

RHEL recently announced they will be switching to MariaDB. This move seems to be very natural. RHEL was “the first choice” distro to run Oracle’s database products. Now Oracle ships their version of Linux taking a chunk of the service & subscription revenues from them. I would expect more distros will follow that path pretty soon.

Are we supposed to be afraid? Being slightly paranoid might be a good thing. Oracle currently controls Java, MySQL and is actively competing with RedHat in the business that was normally occupied by them. I have nothing against competition – but the first two points – Java & MySQL – are to be observed. Java is present almost everywhere – and the plug cannot be just pulled. Last months showed, that embracing Java bugs can be a challenge to Oracle. How it’s going to be with MySQL – the time will tell.

PS Below is a pretty interesting movie depicting the importance of Java. I do not wish to enter the flagship discussion about fragmentation, “write once – run nowhere” etc. – regardless of the dark side of Java, it is a dependency that will remain for years (and yes – Java has also plenty of bright sides:).

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