Strong opinions, weakly held

Tag: mysql (page 1 of 2)

The state of MySQL

There is no application nearer and dearer to my heart than MySQL. I’ve build applications on a lot of different platforms over the years, but pretty much all of them have used MySQL as the data store. That said, i don’t usually pay attention to what’s going on in the MySQL community. I use whatever version of MySQL is packaged for the server I’m using and make the best of it.

Even so, there’s a lot of activity in the MySQL world. It’s now fully owned by Oracle and at the same time the open source version is being forked all over the place. People are excited about non-relational databases and looking at them instead of MySQL. You can get the full rundown of the latest on all these fronts from Stephen O’Grady.

It’s important to remember, though, that all of this stuff is happening at the edge. I’m fairly tapped into the world of software development — I read the blogs, participate on Twitter, and keep up with the latest trends. But I use plain old MySQL 5.0. Most developers are the same. MySQL just works, and they don’t pay much attention to it beyond that. Even the people who are paying attention aren’t, for the most part, running into what they see as limitations with MySQL. The people who get most of the attention are bending MySQL in unusual ways, and doing unusual things in response. They’re interesting, but not representative.

In the meantime, most developers just need to understand more about how to design a database schema and how to determine which columns need indexes.

Making it easier to monitor slow queries

Ronald Bradford has a good idea for developers who are debugging slow queries — include comments in your SQL so that the queries are easier to identify in MySQL’s process list or in the slow query log. I’m wondering how easy it would be to include a setting for various database libraries (Hibernate, ActiveRecord, any of several PHP frameworks, and so on) to include the context in which a query is called in a comment when the query is run. For example, it would be great, if inside every Hibernate query, the class and method from which the query was called were included.

I’m going to look into hacking this functionality into Kohana, the PHP framework I’ve spent a lot of time with in 2009.

A smart DBA on the MySQL-Oracle thing

The bottom line: As both a community member of MySQL, and a service provider, I am not worried about Oracle buying Sun and acquiring MySQL in the process. There is no validity to the argument that Oracle will slow down or stop MySQL development — it is not possible, with various forks already in heavy development, and it is not probable, because Oracle has owned the InnoDB codebase for 4 years and has not slowed that development down.

Pythian DBA Sheeri Cabral in A MySQL Community Member Opinion of Oracle Buying Sun. An interesting view from the front lines.

The upshot of Oracle and MySQL

You can just ignore my post from yesterday and read Stephen O’Grady’s late innings Q&A on the Oracle/Sun deal to catch up.

Oracle and content farming

Oracle and content farming don’t have anything to do with one another (or do they), but they do seem to be topics that are dominating the news in my little corner of the world today.

The last obstacle to Oracle’s takeover of Sun (and MySQL, its subsidiary) is the European Commission, which is investigating the antitrust implications of the merger. Last week, hearings started. Everyone sees this as their last chance to make themselves heard on the topic, and the stakes are high.

MySQL creator Monty Widenius has posted an impassioned plea for people to contact the EC opposing the deal for fear that Oracle will find crippling or killing MySQL to be more lucrative than supporting it robustly. He also says that Oracle has asked its customers to contact the EC and demand that the deal go through, so he’s asking MySQL users to contact the EC on behalf of an independent MySQL. For more, see Paul McCullagh and Jeremy Zawodny. Oracle has also posted its list of guarantees to reassure the MySQL community.

I think that the Oracle-Sun deal will go through and that MySQL will fall into the hands of Oracle, and I’m worried about the future of the product. Ultimately, though, I think that MySQL has gotten too big and pervasive for Oracle to be able to kill it off.

Today everybody’s talking about content farming. Tim Bray talks about search engines losing their grip, and Scott Rosenberg argues against describing SEO-driven content as fast food. Jacob’s comment on my previous post is definitely worth reading as well. Oh, and Chris Dixon makes the point that the subjects that are most heavily gamed also happen to be those that get the least attention on human networks.

Now I’m all caught up.

Cloud MySQL

Amazon.com’s cloud computing service now offers MySQL 5.1 directly:

Amazon RDS provides a MySQL 5.1 relational database in the cloud. It provides cost-efficient and resizable capacity, while managing time-consuming database administration tasks for customers. The service takes much of the hassle out of setting up and managing relational databases, such as backups and code patching, freeing up its users to focus on their applications and business

Amazon RDS provides the full capabilities of a MySQL Database, which means that libraries, applications and tools that have been designed for use with MySQL can be used without modification. This makes it very simple for customers to start using Amazon RDS. As with all AWS services Amazon RDS is a scalable resource; its storage, processing power and memory usage can be adjusted on demand and the customer only pays for those resources that have been used.

First they came for your systems administrator, now they’re coming for your DBA. Here are instructions for setting it up.

Wonder how long it’ll be before they enable you to use their database as a replication target for an existing database somewhere else?

Stephen O’Grady on the Oracle-Sun merger

Stephen O’Grady explains why he is in favor of EU approval of the Oracle-Sun merger. He argues that Oracle and MySQL are not really competitors, but there’s too much to it to summarize. It’s an interesting argument, but I think he underestimates the degree to which MySQL competes with Oracle at the low end of the market.

Tim Bray on MySQL

Tim Bray worries:

It’s like this: MySQL just isn’t a very big business, by any measure. And it represents the sort of Open-Source entanglement that essentially every major technology player now has one or more of. So, my worry is: If, in a merger or acquisition, partial control over a financially-insignificant Open-Source project can now be expected to result in many months of anti-trust review, that’s going to have a massive negative effect on the viability of M&A transactions all over the technology landscape.

I would argue that MySQL is “special”. It may not be a very big business, but it has a very large footprint on the technology scene. It’s the “M” in LAMP. It’s the database that powers most Rails applications. On the other hand, MySQL is not evolving that quickly, and the versions that are already out will probably work perfectly well for long enough for a fork or replacement to become the new standard.

RMS opposes Oracle acquisition of MySQL

RMS and some other open source advocates are urging the EC to prevent Oracle from taking over MySQL. Here’s why the GPL is inadequate to preserve MySQL, in their estimation:

Defenders of the Oracle acquisition of its competitor naively say Oracle cannot harm MySQL, because a free version of the software is available to anyone under GNU GPL version 2.0, and if Oracle is not a good host for the GPL version of the code, future development will be taken up by other businesses and individual programmers, who could freely and easily “fork” the GPL’d code into a new platform. This defense fails for the reasons that follow.

MySQL uses the parallel licensing approach to generate revenue to continue the FLOSS development of the software. If Oracle acquired MySQL, it would then be the only entity able to release the code other than under the GPL. Oracle would not be obligated to diligently sell or reasonably price the MySQL commercial licenses. More importantly, Oracle is under no obligation to use the revenues from these licenses to advance MySQL. In making decisions in these matters, Oracle is facing an obvious conflict of interest – the continued development of a powerful, feature rich free alternative to its core product.

As only the original rights holder can sell commercial licenses, no new forked version of the code will have the ability to practice the parallel licensing approach, and will not easily generate the resources to support continued development of the MySQL platform.

The acquisition of MySQL by Oracle will be a major setback to the development of a FLOSS database platform, potentially alienating and dispersing MySQL’s core community of developers. It could take several years before another database platform could rival the progress and opportunities now available to MySQL, because it will take time before any of them attract and cultivate a large enough team of developers and achieve a similar customer base.

Their conclusion is not obviously insane:

We recognize the support Sun provides to increase competition in numerous markets through its support of FLOSS and open standards. We also recognize that Oracle’s acquisition of Sun may be essential for Sun’s survival. However, Oracle should not be allowed to harm consumer interests in the database market by weakening the competition provided by MySQL. For the reasons elucidated above, we ask that you block Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL.

Links for September 13

  • Jay Robinson: Some Notes On iTunes LP. Unsurprisingly, the album info is basically a packaged Web site made of HTML, CSS, and media files. I like that Apple is trying a new way to get people to return to the experience of listening to an album.
  • MySQL Performance Blog: 3 ways MySQL uses indexes. Short and useful.
  • The American Prospect: The Life and Death of Online Communities. There are plenty of articles on this subject, but they never get old for me. This one’s about GeoCities.
  • Ask MetaFilter: New York Times malware ads. Looks like the New York Times is running ads that attempt to install malware. I noticed the same thing on Haaretz a couple of weeks ago. Sounds like something’s wrong with the ad brokers. The New York Times owns up here.
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