[kwlug-disc] MySQL vs. PostGres license differences?

Khalid Baheyeldin kb at 2bits.com
Sat Mar 6 13:33:43 EST 2010

> If I recall, I believe there was a bit of resentment around that
> licensing choice. They provide GPL client libraries that must be linked
> against to access the server. Link against those GPL libraries and you
> fall into the derivative work zone. I think that in 2010 that is pretty
> well understood by everybody.
> But apparently they went as far as claiming the protocol itself was
> covered under the GPL[1]. In the case of simply communicating you become
> a derivative work as their interpretation of the GPL applied to the
> protocol. I'm sure the Samba guys would have something interesting to
> say here.
> You should still be able to pull an nvidia and have a GPL wrapper
> implementing an interface, and have your code connect, rather than link,
> with that module. It seems there are a few third-party mysql connectors
> around that do just that for various different licenses (BSD, LGPL).
> They simply implement the mysql communication protocol, and have no need
> to actually link or consume any mysql libraries.
> A quick read through the mysql "Foss license exception list" [2] and a
> few FAQs seem to talk about "distribution" with a program of different
> licensing. So it may be that MySQL/Sun/Oracle consider simple
> distribution itself to be sufficient need to require a license,
> regardless of any potential linking issues. Ouch. They're probably
> banking on the "License fee is less than ongoing legal advice" angle (of
> which I am not giving, by the way)
> 1. http://krow.livejournal.com/684068.html?thread=2670116
> 2. http://www.mysql.com/about/legal/licensing/foss-exception/

You just listed the stuff I was going to say in the May presentation re:
MySQL licensing subtleties and controversies.

I also saw Brian Ackers' post above (he is krow above in link #1), and was
amazed how ex-MySQL employees change their stance after Oracle's
purchase. From memory, I think Brian left Sun/Oracle and is now works
with Monty (co-founder of MySQL) in his new company.

Monty was lobbying the EU to stop the sale of Sun to Oracle because of
MySQL, his stance was, to me, was really weak. He wanted his cake and
to eat it too. Brian's assertions above seem to criticize the very
of MySQL's business model now he is out.

Both seem to change their story once they are outside the company. Sad
to see that, but open source communities and companies are not immune
to human ills.

None of the assertions above were tested in court, so it is what they say
it is, despite protestations from whomever.

Again, all that affects you if you want to embed MySQL in a commercial
closed source product that is not GPL.

If you use it from free products, then there is no issue at all.
Khalid M. Baheyeldin
2bits.com, Inc.
Drupal optimization, development, customization and consulting.
Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability. --  Edsger W.Dijkstra
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. --   Leonardo da Vinci
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