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MySQL Founders Reunite To Support Open-Source MariaDB
Posted April 23, 2013
MySQL Founders Reunite To Support Open-Source MariaDB
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By Barry Levine. Updated April 23, 2013 2:07PM

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The MySQL band is getting together again. The founders of the popular open-source MySQL database program are being reunited professionally with the merger of the SkySQL Corp. AB and Monty Program AB companies, and the new company is committed to strengthening the open-source MariaDB database.

Terms of the deal were not made public.

Monty Widenius, MySQL co-creator and head of Monty Program AB, and David Axmark, MySQL co-creator and a member of the SkySQL board, will be working together in the new entity, which will be called SkySQL and will be dedicated to MariaDB. The open-source community will be represented through the MariaDB Foundation. A key reason behind the merger was concern that the current MySQL software is becoming less and less an open-source project.

MySQL Under Oracle

MySQL, the most popular database in use, had been owned by MySQL AB of Helsinki. In 2008, MySQL AB was sold to Sun Microsystems for $1 billion, which is one of the largest pricetags ever for a technology acquisition in Europe. In 2010, Oracle bought Sun. In fact, many observers saw MySQL -- a free alternative to Oracle's cash cow -- as one of the key reasons that Oracle had its sights on Sun.

Also in 2010, about two dozen former MySQL employees created SkySQL, which was an effort to keep alive the MySQL spirit. Widenius created the MariaDB database from some of MySQL's open source code and founded Monty Program AB, which owned MariaDB.

SkySQL will support both MySQL and MariaDB, and the new company's founders say that MariaDB will always remain open source. In a statement accompanying the merger announcement, SkySQL CEO Patrik Sallner said the company was "committed to develop MariaDB into the most versatile open-source database."

Fans of MySQL have expressed alarm at the direction that Oracle is taking the venerable database. Last fall, three extensions for MySQL were released by Oracle, but only for the enterprise version and not for the free, open-source edition, and there are reports that Oracle has declined to release results of some MySQL testing.

Wikipedia, Linux Distros

MariaDB is already off to a promising start. Last week, for instance, Wikipedia announced that it had completed migration to MariaDB 5.5. for the English and German Wikipedias, a major endorsement of the software. For the past several years, the open online encyclopedia had been using a Facebook fork of MySQL 5.1.

In a posting on the blog of the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, Wikimedia site architect Asher Feldman wrote on Monday that, "as supporters of the free culture movement, the Wikimedia Foundation strongly prefers free software projects," including a preference "for projects without bifurcated code bases between differently licensed free and enterprise editions" -- an obvious reference to MySQL under Oracle.

In addition, two major Linux distros, Fedora and openSUSE, have announced they're moving to MariaDB.

MariaDB gets its name from the first name of Widenius' younger daughter. In MySQL, "My" is the name of his older daughter. SQL stands for Structured Query Language.

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