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Sun's Mickos says he's OK with MySQL co-founder's 5.1 rant

Database VP: criticism of release by Widenius 'is part of being an open-source company'

By Chris Kanaracus
December 8, 2008 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - Michael "Monty" Widenius, original developer of the MySQL open-source database, put a damper on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s recent release of MySQL 5.1 with a now-infamous Nov. 29 blog post that trashed the company's decision to give the update a "generally available" designation.

Widenius, who is the chief technology officer for Sun's MySQL operation, warned users to be "very cautious about MySQL 5.1" because "there are still many known and unknown fatal bugs in the new features that are still not addressed."

The comments of Widenius sparked considerable debate last week, with some observers questioning how long he would remain at Sun — which bought MySQL in January for $1 billion — in light of such public insubordination. Sun confirmed earlier this year that Widenius was considering leaving the company; his fellow MySQL co-founder David Axmark already resigned in early October.

But Marten Mickos, who was CEO of MySQL AB before the acquisition and is now senior vice president of Sun's database group, said in an interview on Monday that Widenius remains at the company and that his public criticisms reflect Sun's open-source ethics.

"I learned over many years about the benefits and the painfulness of absolute transparency in open source," Mickos said. "A little bit of debate never hurts. This is part of being an open-source company. People are free to blog about what they want."

In his blog post, Widenius pointed blame directly at Mickos for what he considered to be the too-early designation of MySQL 5.1 as a generally available product.

"We have changed the release model so that instead of focusing on quality and features our release is now defined by timeliness and features," Widenius wrote. "Quality is not regarded to be that important. To quote Marten Mickos: 'MySQL 5.1 will be release[d] as GA in or before December because I say so.'" He added that Mickos "needs something he can sell" and that a GA version is easier to market to users than one designated as a release candidate.

Mickos declined to address the specific points Widenius made in the post, but said that the long-delayed 5.1 release is "great" and that he is "very confident" about the software. The release has been downloaded more than 250,000 times in its first 10 days of general availability, according to Sun.

Meanwhile, Widenius sought to clarify his position in a follow-up comment that he added to his blog on Sunday.

"I think that MySQL 5.1 is a good *recommended* release, especially now when MySQL/Sun is providing full support for it," Widenius wrote. "What I disagree with is giving MySQL 5.1 a GA status, which at least for me, implicates it has no crashing or other serious bug that affects normal operation. That said, work on MySQL 5.1 continues and if things goes well [we'll] reach this goal more sooner than later."

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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