MySQL Heading Down a Closed Path?

MySQL Heading Down a Closed Path?

By | August 19th, 2012
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It seems that Oracle has begun closing off parts of the MySQL development

process, thus causing worries that the openness of the database system is

in jeopardy.


														               
							 	 						

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It seems that Oracle has begun closing off parts of the MySQL development process, thus causing worries that the openness of the database system is in jeopardy.

When Sun was about to be taken over by Oracle, a lot of people worried about what this would mean for MySQL, which was an open source alternative to Oracle’s database products. For MySQL to thrive, it would need continuous development and patching by Oracle, and would require Oracle to provide some form of enterprise support system for those who require that. People worried that Oracle would kill off MySQL.

Eventually Sun, and as a part of it MySQL, ended up under Oracle, however in order to win approval from the European Commission they had to promise to continue developing MySQL and to continue to offer it under the open source GPL license.

The latest issue to come to light though, is that parts of the development process—not exactly the code itself—are being closed off to external developers.

Since a database is a complex piece of software, there needs to be a way to be sure that new features or bug fixes don’t cause a resurgence in bugs that had already been fixed. For this it needs a complex suite of tests; and each new bug fix comes with a test for that bug. This way when a change is made in the future, the developers can run the suite of tests and ensure that no bugs return.

With a recent release of MySQL it seems that the bug fixes were not accompanied by the usual set of tests for the bug fixes. The testing infrastructure was referencing tests that were part of a directory that was not released to public. While Oracle is well within rights to do this, it makes it difficult for third parties to confirm whether the bugs actually have been fixed, and also makes it difficult for other parties that are developing on top of MySQL to be sure that their changes are not causing bugs.

Furthermore, even the revision history, i.e. the list of changes made to the code, with the authors of the change and the reason for the change, was made private.

Both these moves might be within rights for Oracle, as they are still releasing the source code, however they serve to alienate the developer community around MySQL and could be seen as trying to kill MySQL by killing the developer community around it.

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Kshitij Sobti
Inserted into Kshitij's motivation banks is a particularly strong desire for justice. It's sad then, that he wastes his skills gaming, watching TV, and for the mundane task of writing prose. He tweets
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