MySQL Founder Resigns from Sun over Quality of MySQL 5.1

A picture of MySQL founder Michael "Monty" Widenius

I first laid eyes on Michael Widenius, the original and principle author of the MySQL database software at the 2008 MySQL Conference in San Jose.  Michael, who is more commonly known simply as “Monty”, had recently had his pride and joy, the MySQL AB company purchased by Sun Microsystems. I’d say that just about every attendee was extremely nervous about the future of MySQL, and every (new) Sun employee was eager to say “Oh, the purchase was great thing!”. There certainly was a Sun head hunter at every corner ready to hand out an application form (and a pair of boxer shorts or two).

MySQL_Boxer_shortsI left the conference having learned a lot of the techniques Lee Newton would be soon applying to the b5media database architecture. But far as the Sun purchase was concerned… I felt a little less safe. It was worrying that something that important was not quite as secure as it once was.  There was no indication something bad was about to happen, but the way things were, it was sure to be painful if something did.

So now not a year later, Monty announced today that he has quit because Sun released MySQL 5.1 without first resolving significant flaws despite Monty’s strenuous objections. Monty previously released a detailed list describing some of the “many known and unknown fatal bugs in the new features that are still not addressed.” My take from the article is that we should consider MySQL 5.1 should be considered a 5.0 maintenance release with pre-release beta features included.

Obviously Monty had spoken up to the higher ups at Sun prior to the release, but as he explained this had little affect.  I think that the open source world collided heavily with the corporate reality of “Cost, Schedule, Features, or Quality – Choose 3”. In the open source communities, the choice is simple, the schedule rarely if ever enters the mix. In this corporate battle, it obviously was one of the three chosen. Monty had been seen this coming early on and had been very vocal even back in April 2008 (see page 19) calling for Sun to “Create a release policy and independent release policy board that can’t be manipulated by people in charge of server development (to not allow anyone to sacrifice quality to reach personal goals)” Whoa… “To reach Personal Goals” – even then it sounded to me like he had someone in particular in mind. Additionally, from another comment later in the keynote: “Sun is more opensource/free software friendly than MySQL AB has been lately and is driving MySQL in the right direction” it seems obvious that there was a power struggle going on. After all MySQL AB was co-founded by Michael and he should have had significant influence over the company’s philosophies. I don’t know the rest of this particular sub-plot, but I’m certain there is more to be told.

In any case, in light of MySQL 5.1’s quality issues at time of general availability Michael tells us he immediately quit  but was talked into giving three months months to Sun for reconciliation and putting things right. That stretched into seven months, but the end result was the same. Michael announced today that he’s resigned and will be creating his own version of MySQL called MySQL-Maria which will will incorporate all MySQL updates but include rewrites and additional code to improve stability. It will be primarily developed by a new company he is forming named Monty Program Ab which will be “a true open source company”. I’m still not sure what that means, but I guess I could read up on it in more detail, if I wanted to.

So, what does this mean? Is it a good thing? I guess it is good that someone is out there fixing known bugs in MySQL, but won’t that happen anyway with an open source project? It’s great to see another company formed to further the open source movement, but can a MySQL standards war be beneficial?  Given the adoption rate of new MySQL releases, does it even matter that 5.1 was released? It’s not as if ISPs will install it anytime before 2010 by which time there will be patches.

In the end, from the clues I’ve seen I suspect this episode occurred due to a personal, philosophical dispute that Monty didn’t win. Regardless, I wish him success with his new project and thank him for providing a tool that I use ever day: MySQL.

Live from SxSW:Geolocation in games and Online

I am at SxSW for a week and the introduction of this session was so incredible I thought I would live blog it and share my notes:

SxSW using geolocation in games and online (03/08/2008)
11:48 So here I am at SwSW at the second session I’ve hit for the day. and So far this is a blast
11:49 This session doesn’t apply to my job directly but it is incredibly high on the geek coolness factor
11:50 I started describing old school geocaching from 2000 talking about how you used GPS to go and find “treasures” out in the woods
11:52 But there is now all sorts of cool stuff going on. Like zork based games where you get to a location and your phone/device/whatever gets messages saying “In front of you is an old man searching though a basket” when you get to the right location
11:54 They have also been covering things like vertical games where in a big city you have ppl up in a tall building guiding your team mate through a maze down on the city street.
11:56 Now there are also competions going on with things like Nike Plus which has run tracking, mileage and geolocation built into the shoe and ppl are competing with others for how far they go etc
11:57 So why can’t you do things with points as you are going. A little transmitter at different locations indicates that you get a power up or get extra points for the run.
11:57 This technology is really fascinating.
11:58 The idea of bringing movement into games has taken off with the wii and Dance Dance revolution

11:58 This brings things into a new level as it turns the real world into a game
11:59 New term I am “Geo Curious”

12:00 They are talking about how the iphone doesn’t have true gps right now
12:01 I am really glad that I flashed the leaked GPS enabled ROM to my Verizon Titan right now. I just wish I could pick up more satelites. I’m waiting for them to ask who has GPS on their phone 🙂
12:02 The fuzzyness of GPSa is causing difficulty in creating Zork based games
12:03 GPSa is where your phone determines location based upon the cell towers that you are talking too.
12:03 So right now rooms when you are making a phone playable game has to be 100mx100m

12:04 However with TRUE GPS you can have a game that is within 2ft
12:05 “Conquest” was a game that divided a city into 8 zones and as soon asa team was within a zone and then the could shoot the “semicodes”? (Zombies?)

12:05 However they players who knew more could cheat if they knew where the edges would be.
12:07 These games can be done by ppl txting a certain codes that are available only at certain places. I think they said “crossroads” did that.
12:07 The maze game I talked about before that was done from building looking down at a maze was actually called “pac-man(hattan)”

12:08 ppl were dressed in pacman suits and they were guided by their partners with their cell phones.
12:09 Lower tech games just had you call and say things like “I am the king of spain” but the one panelist dialed the wrong number and really freaked someone out.
12:10 So the terms are “Relative Location” “Definate Location” and “Fuzzy Location”
12:13 “Crossroads” used GPS and you were looking at the map on your phone. and using that on a virtual map to guide you around an artificial environment as you are working around the real world.
12:14 I totally love the idea of this walking over the goal that you have and suddenly your phone buzzes in your pocket and gives you your next goal
12:15 However as with many things the technology is not QUITE there yet.
12:15 We are sooooooo close to very exciting things.
12:16 ppl with the Titan/Mogal/XV6800 can get to within 2 ft and that is wondererful

12:16 But atm I am off the ivory coast since I can’t get any sats.
12:17 There are also other issues beyond technology
12:17 There is a social aspect that has to be considered.
12:18 In even just geocaching, while burying an ammo box in the woods is OK, using it as a geocache in timesquare is not smart. Neither is a metal pipe.

12:19 This also CAN be dangerous. in a game in a city ppl walking out into traffic with their heads down is a REAL possiblity.

12:19 Playing games in the street can be a real danger.
12:20 Some one from the Discovery channel is in the audience asking a question (OK someone lolkatz that)

12:20 She is discussing Shark tracking and other similar technology to improve this type of game “Shark Hunters” was the show they did on this…
12:22 BTW for those that don’t know is a great site.
12:25 Another question is about using this in the news media. Obviously tagging photos is one idea but if all published media had was tagged with a location the possiblty is incredible
12:26 Google and other search tools would bring news really directly to you things that really directly affect your world.
12:26 In the blogging world there is of course
12:27 There is also a website that I can’t think of right now that is designed to show the whole world in photo format with geo location as well. The never metioned it today but I’ve been to the site. It is @jeremywright’s twitter feed.
12:29 There is a question about whether a city planner or ski results person came to one of the panelist how would they respond. Could you work together to create an official map.
12:30 RFID is actually an tech that would work better for this sort of thing. It could be used to create a more persistant game board in a city. The idea is brilliant. Seatle shoudl do that to bring ppl in.
12:31 This would be a similar idea to the “Skateboarding in the city” movement

12:31 platform for creating your own games
12:32 (spelling?)
12:33 And that wraps up this session. That was really neat.
12:41 This Live Blog has now ended.

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