Thursday, October 19, 2006

Change == Opportunity

Bob Field posted his reactions to the recent MySQL announcement to offer two versions of the MySQL Server product: Enterprise Server and Community Server.

I feel somewhat similarly; the change has the potential to give greater value to both the corporate customers of MySQL and their community users. It will be interesting to see how this develops as we go forward.

By making less frequent releases of MySQL, the company could put more work into quality control, and this could enable them to provide an overall better product. Not that they aren't quite healthy and competitive in that area, but QC that can always be improved.

This would be good of course for MySQL's Enterprise customers, because the product will become an even better technology for stable, secure, performant data management.

But it could also benefit the open source community. The improvements that go into MySQL Enterprise will still be available for download in source form. Anyone can build the MySQL server to get these improvements at any time. Well, almost anyone. :-) It's not that easy to build the sources. But recent documentation (tutorial 1, tutorial 2, tutorial 3) and tools have made it a lot easier to build MySQL from source.

I don't mind the reduction in frequency of prebuilt binaries. The number of people who eagerly upgrade to the latest binaries is a tiny percentage of the most dedicated power users, based on the types of questions I see online. Most people upgrade once every two or three years. The few who stay current can check out the code and build it, so they'll be even more current than they have been in the past. There is a school of thought that power users of open-source software should be building from source anyway.

I usually recommend to newbies to use XAMPP or a similar prebuilt software stack. It will be interesting to see if XAMPP adopts MySQL ES or CS.

How the division of the code develops over time is largely in the hands of community developers. One area that could benefit form contributions is the MySQL build tools.

MySQL Server also needs support for popular IDE tools like Visual Studio and Eclipse. Also the Build Farm Initiative has started to address continuous integration systems. These are areas where the community can help greatly.

But it's also in the hands of MySQL AB, because they still control both the ES and CS code trees. There needs to be a more reliable process for community contributions to be integrated into the official code.

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