Long ago, I reviewed the various free software database-y apps, and made a decision to be more interested in PostgreSQL than MySQL. Don’t get me wrong…I have and do use MySQL when required, or when it’s just more readily available. But my own development, and the (very) minor code review of the actual dbms source, all focuses on PostgreSQL as my RDBMS.

Among all the flamewars on features, speed, security, and such, licensing has always been an issue between PostgreSQL and MySQL as well. *nerd alert; sorry* PostgreSQL uses the BSD license, which doesn’t require sharing of changes made to code that you distribute, but in practice, most people do just contribute back to the main tree. And they usually maintain their copyright, so the PostgreSQL source has many owners. MySQL has always used the GPL (good show), but they require contributors to the main distribution to to sign the copyright on their code over to MySQL’s corporation. That way, the code base has only one person (well, corporation) that is the copyright holder of the primary distribution. Which is clean, and some people like that. It also makes it easier to sell, though…which is what happened when Sun bought MySQL recently.

That’s not necessarily bad, but I don’t like this: MySQL reserves features for paying customers; open-source community up in arms. This bears watching to see how it plays out, but I see this as short-sighted. The Enterprise features will get FAR less testing that the primary codebase, it’ll be difficult to coordinate code that crosses the barrier, etc. It sounds like a good idea to pointy-headed business types; I don’t think it is. Just free the whole damn thing, and charge for support as you will, IMO. I think this could hurt MySQL some. It’ll take more missteps to move most folks, but this is a warning flag.

For me? I’m glad I’ve stuck with PostgreSQL over the years. It’s the bazaar, not the cathedral, and that’s where I like to be. It’s a powerful, advanced, free RDBMS, and I love it dearly.

Note: I just realized that the licensing hyperlink I used above kind of makes it appear that I’m bolding free, and contrasting that with MySQL or something. Absolutely not; MySQL was and is still free software, in fact under a license (GPLv2) that the GNU Foundation (target of the aforementioned link) invented. That wasn’t my intent with the link. I just like the GNU Foundation, hadn’t linked to them in awhile, and knew they had a list of Free Software licenses. That is all.

UPDATE (5/7): MySQL reverses decision on this. Good call.

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