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MySQL after the Sun sets

MySQL logoFor web applications, those based on PHP and other scripting languages, no rival is even close to MySQL. Over the past several years, it has become the standard for web databases, and a component of the now famous LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) software stack. When Oracle announced last month that it had inked a deal to acquire Sun Microsystems (the primary copyright holder for MySQL), rumors began to swarm about the future of the database software.

As of today, the deal with Oracle and Sun is not finalized, but many of those who rely on MySQL as a free and open source database solution are wondering what it means for free software when its copyright changes hands. Even high-traffic web sites such as Flickr, Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, and YouTube rely on MySQL, and most web hosting companies offer it as one of their database options.

The truth is that, unlike similar situations with proprietary software vendors, users of MySQL have nothing to fear. The current version of MySQL is and always will be protected under the GNU General Public License. It will always be free. What that means is that even if Oracle or whatever company eventually ends up with it, decided to change it, privatize it, or even stop developing it, the source code could be take by another organization or by the community of developers and turned into another product. The worst that can happen is that the trademark name “MySQL” ceases to exist. Aside from that, we can all sleep easily, even after Sun falls below the horizon.

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