Last week, I argued that the European Commission, the European Union’s top competition authority, was wasting its time delaying Oracle’s acquisition of Sun. Since then, I’ve heard from Henrik Ingo, the COO (chief operating officer) for Monty Program Ab, the MySQL fork headed by MySQL’s founder Michael “Monty” Widenius. He has a different take on the EU’s opposition to the deal, and I thought it worth sharing his viewpoint with you.
First, Ingo notes that “While it’s true that many use MySQL for free [under the open-source GPL license), and some even hack on the GPL’d source code, most of MySQL’s paying customers use MySQL under a commercial license which has nothing to do with Open Source. It is in this market that MySQL competes against Oracle and for those customers the GPL version of MySQL offers no consolation. This is the main reason why the EU is concerned.”
He’s correct; MySQL is a dual-licensed product. Anyone can use MySQL as an open-source program, but, to quote Sun’s description of the license, “OEMs, ISVs, VARs and other distributors that combine and distribute commercially licensed software with MySQL software and do not wish to distribute the source code for the commercially licensed software under version 2 of the GNU General Public License (the “GPL”) must enter into a commercial license agreement with Sun.”
This is a different model than that say used by Red Hat. Anyone can use the latest RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) . Indeed companies like CentOS and Oracle produce near-identical twins to RHEL and it’s all quite legal. Where Red Hat makes it money is with support contracts.
That’s not the case with MySQL,