Fundamentally, his paper offers a different prediction as to what would happen post-acquisition. He simply expresses his firm belief that whatever made MySQL successful in the past is not really an indication for the future. In fact he believes MySQL AB had a very suboptimal business model... If he were right that MySQL AB and all of the companies that succeeded around MySQL didn't do it right and that a GPL-only approach works best, then actually there would be no point in Sun having acquired MySQL last year nor in Oracle acquiring it now because then the future would at any rate be that someone has to fork it and do a GPL-only project dependent on voluntary contributions. Interestingly, that approach would have been possible during all of those almost 14 years that MySQL has been available and no one, not even Eben Moglen, decided to seize that opportunity.
Both Moglen and Mueller make strong and weak points. First, Moglen is too quick to dismiss MySQL as an atypical GPL project. As Mueller points out, whatever you think about MySQL and its business model, you can't simply conclude that another business model would be more appropriate. Just because Linux is licensed under the GPL and Linux vendors, namely Red Hat and Novell are closing in on a combined $1B in revenue, does not mean the GPL is the best license for every open source product with commercial aspirations. The Linux ecosystem is very different than, say, application servers or Web content management. Different markets with different ecosystems require different license considerations.
While Moglen appears to be arguing for a "pure GPL" MySQL, departing from the dual-licensed status quo, Groklaw reports that Mueller and Widenius would like to see the MySQL open source license changed from GPLv2 to the Apache Software License. According to Groklaw, page 19 of an unreleased submission to the EU from Mueller/Widenius stated:
We would like to draw attention to the fact that some major concerns about the effects of the proposed transaction could be somewhat alleviated by requiring that all versions of MySQL source code previously released under the GPLv2 license ...must be released under a more liberal open source license that is usable also by the OEM users and would also create an opportunity for other service vendors to compete with offerings comparable to MySQL Enterprise. A good candidate is the Apache Software License (ASL).
Something doesn't feel right about Widenius proposing a license that MySQL could have chosen "over the past 14 years." Clearly MySQL decided against this move as the GPL/dual licensing approach led to a competitive advantage that the ASL v2.0 would not provide MySQL. But I guess that's why Widenius suggests Oracle should be forced to relicense MySQL under a permissive license such as the ASL v2.0.
We haven't heard the last from Widenius & Mueller. Enjoy your holiday season ;-)
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p.s.: I should state: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions."
This story, "Florian Mueller responds to Eben Moglen's Oracle/Sun submission," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in open source at InfoWorld.com.