I have withheld remarking on the current debate over the fate of MySQL at the hands of Oracle. While I tend to agree with critics of the database giant for its less than stellar track record with open source and free software, I am generally inclined to afford the benefit of the doubt.
First, I don’t see the commitment to open source and/or free software as a binary decision. And second, other companies with just as bad, if not worse, reputations have worked hard to make good. Not all of them, mind you; Microsoft has drawn my irritation for paying marginal lip service to open source with some really not very credible follow through (or lack thereof).
Jolie O’Dell at ReadWriteWeb shares the thoughts of the man most appropriate to comment on the future of MySQL, one of its co-creators, Monty Widenius. I think he stated the core issue quite succinctly, with evidence to back it up. It is hard to argue that Oracle has not left itself room to suffocate the open source database slowly. Whether it makes sense for them to do so or not is immaterial as I think Monty’s point is fair that they could do so. Further, all he asks is that they either address the key omissions he lists or otherwise relinquish stewardship of the project.
Oracle already has a response, according to Slashdot. Just glancing over it quickly, it looks good to me but if critics are concerned as much about what Oracle doesn’t say as what it does, I doubt it will satisfy everyone. I really think at this point Oracle should cut its losses and help spin up a charity, not-for-profit foundation with the explicit mandate to ensure MySQL continues to be released and developed under the GPL.