As I'm occasionally reminded, MySQL didn't start out as open source. In fact, MySQL's original license was very similar to what it is trying to achieve today: Free for noncommercial use, but not-so-free for commercial use. It didn't decide to go open source (GPL) until 1999.
So for those of us that get caught up in MySQL's decision to keep some extensions closed to paid subscribers, perhaps a refresher course in MySQL history will make it seem a bit less shocking. (Also be sure to check out the early 2001 brouhaha over trademark violations surrounding MySQL.org. Fascinating stuff.)
With that said, there's an ongoing tension between commercialization and adoption that MySQL (and all commercial open-source projects) have to manage. As a friend noted in an email to me yesterday:
Remember that Monty [co-founder of MySQL] chose to go open source only after the world totally ignored his work. There is a real value that goes along with being open source that lends itself well to adoption. If you have to pay, then that will deter adoption of immature products in ways that it won't with free products.
His take on Monty's reasoning is a bit strong, and I don't agree that MySQL had been ignored, but still he has a point: Open sourcing one's code can lead to far greater adoption in a short period of time than proprietary source.
The question, however, remains for all open-source projects: Is it fair or productive to close off the code after open source has made it popular?… Read more