Monty Widenius wants another billion dollars, should we help him?

Sometimes inbetween Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the “Help MySQL” initiative was founded. This initiative, publicly supported by Monty Widenius, the co-founder of MySQL would be interesting if it wasn’t somehow indecent. Let me explain.

What does “Help MySQL” advocate, in a nutshell? It claims that if Oracle were to merge with Sun, MySQL customers would be trapped in a market that would be pretty much controlled and captured by Oracle, both through its existing propietary databases offerings and the acquisition of MySQL. Another issue explained on the web site is that the inherent free and open source nature of MySQL will not be enough to grant effective freedoms to the market since Oracle would be the sole copyright owner of the code and trademarks.

I think I will not be the only one to notice that in a whooping twist of history, Monty Widenius explains us why the business and contribution model to MySQL he crafted himself since the beginning of the database company is terrible for customers. I am always quite skeptical of the “do as I say not as I do” lines of thinking, but so be it, let’s carry along. For months now, Monty and his interesting (and interested) acolyte, Florian Mueller,  have been lobbying everything that seems to be possibly lobbied, from the press to the European Commission where they seemed to have been giving a hard time to Oracle, confused the European anti-trust with byzantine arguments leading to have MySQL relicensed under the BSD while portraying Microsoft as “understanding towards the Open Source ecosystem”.

You might then ask, again, why would Monty want MySQL back, or separated from Oracle?  What would Monty Widenius, co-founder of MySQL, and recently an advisor of the Microsoft’s Codeplex Foundation, counter Sun’s acquisition by Oracle after having left Sun as fast as he could have? There seems to be many reasons, at least on a personal level. One of them, as Jan Wildeboer outlined today, might be that Monty just does not want to leave the command of MySQL. The problem is that the “competitive case” just does not seem to exist here. Not only can anyone fork MySQL (Monty already did it by the way), but the database market is competitive enough to have other credible incumbents fill in the gap, if Oracle were to become.. carnivorous, which remains to be proven. But there are other reasons, some of whose can be foreseen if one thinks about the possible outcomes of Oracle’s walking away from the merger at the end of the month. Sun Microsystems lost several of its most profitable and large customers with the globlal financial crisis. It is doubtful whether Sun could actually survive in the end. Sun would then be sold by chunks, and I cannot wait to see who would buy MySQL back… Monty Widenius, a fellow of the Microsoft’s Codeplex Foundation, and a man who describes the asserted and patented monopoly as being “benevolent and understanding towards Open Source”. There you go, I know you must feel reassured that MySQL will end up in good hands if it does fall in Oracle’s portfolio.

Sun Microsystems being sold in chunks, or being merged with Oracle raises a lot of questions that I ‘m not aware Monty Widenius ever addressed in a constructive way: What about Java,, and OpenSolaris (other examples might also be found)? I have not heard a word from Monty Widenius. The future of ODF does not seem to be very important, just like, in the same way, his new colleague at the Codeplex Foundation, Miguel de Icaza, seems to think. Perhaps the quest for another billion is too important and therefore Monty just hasn’t found the time to think and focus about other issues. By helping MySQL, it seems to me you are also helping the personal wealth of a billionaire who calls evil what some might do in the future while forgetting he did the same before.

All things considered, I am not really excited at the prospect of “saving MySQL”, and neither should you. For 2010, let’s rather focus on constructive conversations and projects.

Happy New Year 2010!

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