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December 21, 2006

MySQL Symposium

I'll echo what Kris Buytaert said about the MySQL Symposium in Amsterdam in March. It is going to be a great few days filled with a lot of detail about MySQL.

Among others, I'm looking forward to Jim Starkey's talk about Falcon Internals. Also looking forward to hanging out with other MySQLers, and Planet MySQLers.

Hope to see you there.

Posted by mike at 5:00 PM

December 15, 2006

Going to a Movie with 450+ Gradeschoolers

This morning I went on a field trip with my kindergartener and around 450 other K-4 kids to see a movie. To be honest, it was a lot more manageable and enjoyable than I thought it would be.

The school isn't far from the theater so all grades except kindergarten walked. That was quite a site to see; this long string of kids navigating through two somewhat busy intersections. Of course the police were on hand to help direct traffic.

About 100 kindergarteners and chaperones sardined into a school bus and drove the few blocks to the theater. I was responsible for 5 children, which was very manageable. Since I've been to Jo's class before I already knew the kids, made it a little easier to create a bond with the small group.

It took considerable effort to get everyone into the theater. After awhile it became clear that everyone was not going to fit...the theater we were in sat 485 people! Initially they asked the adults to move to the sides and sit in the isle. That raised some other issues (at that age kids should have an adult nearby), so they moved the 1st graders and corresponding adults to another theater and I got my seat back next to my group.

The movie started, all the kids cheered, and we had a great time watching Happy Feet. I was suprised at how quiet it was in the theater during the movie. As there is a lot of music in the movie there tended to be clapping to the beat, and there were a few key moments where the kids clapped and made noise because something good happened.

Afterward it was back onto the bus and back to school.

If you have kids in school I highly recommend volunteering to spend time in their class.

Posted by mike at 12:16 PM

December 13, 2006

Speaking at 2007 MySQL Users Conference

Looks like I'll be out in Santa Clara, CA in April for the 2007 MySQL Users Conference.

The session I'll be giving is titled Adding INFORMATION_SCHEMA Tables, a presentation about one thing you can do when delving into the MySQL source code. I'm excited about this as fidding in the source code is my latest fascination. There's a lot of interesting stuff you can do once you start poking around.

Excited to see what else is on the program, there wasn't much said this year about folks submitting proposals (myself included). I liked what Mike Hillyer did in years past, posting proposals for feedback as they were being developed. Wait, he did post about submitting a presentation. How did I miss that?

Even more excited about getting out there and spending a week living and breathing MySQL with the other attendees.

Posted by mike at 9:27 AM

December 9, 2006

Thoughts on the MySQL Enterprise/Community Split

I have been waiting and waiting ever since the announcement that the MySQL database had split into the MySQL Enterprise Server and MySQL Community Server.

Waiting for what?

For my mind to come to some resolution or conclusion about the change and what it means. It has been some time now and it just hasn't happened. I'm not sure what it says about me that I can't come to a conclusion about this, but here's what I've got so far while waiting for more time to pass. Feelings on any of this are subject to change.

Note: I've had a long-time sense that MySQL must be careful in their balance between feeling like a commercial business and feeling like an open source project. I wrote about this almost three years ago at the 2004 MySQL Users Conference. I think the split of the enterprise and community server is another instance where this balance is important.

MySQL (the company)

To me the most obvious beneficiary of this is MySQL AB/Inc. If I had to speculate (and I will) I'd guess the creation of the enterprise edition will convert a lot of non-paying customers who are enjoying the well-tested binaries and frequent releases into enterprise customers who will pay. If it doesn't convert existing customers it will be there for new customers who are coming to MySQL for the first time.

It seems like a perfectly logical decision for a business to make. Being open source doesn't require MySQL to provide regular, timely updates of the database and certainly doesn't require them to provide an extensive set of well-tested binaries. Putting these behind a paid service shouldn't offend open source folks.

Oh, I've had thoughts about the rules changing and me not having access to what has been free for so long, but I can deal. Maybe it would more problematic if I was running a large non-profit or volunteer organization that needed the enterprise-level database and was faced with paying a fee for a database I had chosen because it was free. But that's not me, so I can't complain.

Enterprise Server

From what I can tell the enterprise server is what we've been using for years, it has been the main product of MySQL AB that gets frequent updates, bug fixes, regular releases, community support, etc. In my mind it's the database I know and use, but the element of community or open source contributions have been removed, or maybe distanced. Having a product that is a little less associated with open source and community involvement is probably good for reaching certain markets.

The enterprise server cost does include a bundle of services, which go above and beyond what one would get if they were one of those multi-million downloaders of the free version. So there's something there. As someone who hasn't used them I can't comment on the value they provide.

I still don't know what to think about the community being separated from this edition of the database. In my mind this is the database that has been built over so many years with a lot of help from the community. It feels odd to see this database move on and for us community folks to be reassigned to a server that we may or may not see as fit to run in our organization.

Alas, as Kaj points out, the source for the enterprise edition will still be available:

we will continue to make all releases available over our BitKeeper tree and as source code tarballs

So it appears that those willing to compile from source will still have access to the enterprise edition. This is very important (in my eyes) to keep MySQL in the open source space. Without it MySQL AB becomes a commercial company that has an open source offering. (note: I have looked and haven't been able to find out *where* to download the enterprise source code tarball, but I trust it will be somewhere soon).

Community Server

The Community Server raises the most questions for me. In the beginning it is the same as the enterprise edition, the fork in the code doesn't do more than make them separate development trunks (if that is how they are going to be split). Over time I don't know where the community edition will go. In my mind it is new. Yes, it starts with the same code base, but the processes that move it forward are new and being developed. That raises a lot of questions for me. I (to my regret) didn't get out to the MySQL Camp, where some of these may have been answered.

My (current) list of questions about the community edition:

  1. How separate is the code of the community server from enterprise server? Is the community edition a separate trunk, or is it just a branch off the enterprise trunk? Or is it the same thing that is released on a delayed schedule?

  2. How much and how often is code merged in from the enterprise edition? How much (if any) and how often is code from the community edition pushed over to the enterprise edition?

  3. Who governs the community codebase and how is that governance manifested? If a community member proposed to add something to the database does it immediately go to the community for feedback or does it pass through a MySQL gatekeeper? Is there a process for the community to decide if they want a feature or change in the enterprise edition to be put into the community edition?

  4. Is the emphasis for community contributions on doing MySQL AB-defined projects or is the community encouraged to generate and pursue its own ideas?

  5. Will the community server become significantly different from the enterprise server? Will it have functional differences, performance differences?

  6. Will the community server be respected as a production-worthy database or will it gradually become known as experimental (or something else)? Will organizations now willing to use the community edition gradually shift away to something else?

  7. Are there enough folks interested in making code contributions to warrant the community edition? How active will the code contribution process be?

  8. Is it possible that the community will rise up and make the community server a more desirable offering than the enterprise server? (dreaming big here)

  9. Will MySQL AB continue to provide the wide range of binary builds for the community edition or will they dwindle because of other priorities?

  10. As time goes on will we see limitations imposed (like maximum number of connections or limits on database sizes) to restrict usage to "community" type activities. Will the community edition become more like the products offered by commercial companies who want to provide an "introductory" or "limited-feature" version of their product?

There is one thing I do know about the community edition. There are a lot of folks looking forward to the Winter of Code and getting down with source code contributions. Will be more evident how much will be done once the format for proposals is made available and the community can get in there and vote. I think that this is a good sign that the community feels like they are still an important part of what is happening with MySQL.

In re-reading the post from Kaj explaining the community/enterprise split I'm struck by the ying and yang of the two:

  • Community users get new features at no-cost to them — funded by paying customers

  • Enterprise users get a more stable, reliable and predictably-released product — thanks to community participation

Will be interesting to watch over the next few years to see where it goes. Hopefully it ends up being the best thing for everyone.

Posted by mike at 4:53 PM

December 8, 2006

Light Up The Darfur Wall

In my morning reading I came across a site launched a few weeks ago that was built as a mechanism to provide relief to folks in Darfur, Sudan. A cool idea, there is a series of grids with 400,000 numbers in grey (representing lives lost in Darfur). Each dollar that is donated lights up one of the numbers of the grid. The zoomed out view is just single pixels, the zoomed in view shows the actual numbers that are lit.

The about page has information on Darfur and what the foundation is working to accomplish.

You can donate any amount (it is very easy, and they accept PayPal which makes donating much easier for me). The first dollar goes toward a designated number, which gives you the icon and a page with your information. Every dollar after that lights up a random number.

Why number 39? It was the one randomly selected and I took it. Perhaps you'll find a number more meaningful to you.

Posted by mike at 9:06 AM

December 5, 2006

Observations from Watching MySQL Source Code Commits

A few week ago we switched kruckenberg.com over to a new server. With the move I lost all of my procmail filtering rules which were responsible for automatically moving incoming mail to various folders on the server (mail must be filtered on the server so my Blackberry and webmail will get the same filtering).

Anyhow, one of the things I'd been sticking into a folder and looking at occasionally (meaning once a year to purge) is the messages from MySQL source commits. Anyone can subscribe to the list on the MySQL mailing lists page and get these messages which essentially contain the notes and diffs from when something is checked into version control. Most of these commits are for the database application, but there is also a steady stream of documentation changes coming in. Since I haven't gotten around to redoing the server-based filtering the MySQL source changes are popping up in my inbox with every other important and urgent email.

Over the past few weeks (since November 16th to be exact) I've been watching these a little closer because they are interesting to an outsider. I thought I'd throw a few observations out there.

It has been interesting to watch, but I don't think it is going to last much longer as I think I'm ready to devote some time to setting up filters on the new machine.

Anyone else have comments on things they've noticed from watching these commits?

Posted by mike at 10:34 PM

December 1, 2006

The Open Source Job Market is Good

This is a reminder to anyone who works in technology, particularly open source, that the job market is healthy. If you've been waiting for the right time to start looking, that time is here.

I'm just saying this because I get a continuous stream of requests from friends, former co-workers, open source community associates, and random people who read here. Things like "Mike, we desperately need a MySQL DBA. Do you know anyone?" or "Do you know anyone who is available to do some PHP/Perl work." My unscientific sense is that companies are paying more because good open source folks are in demand.

Rather than posting every individual job that comes along I'm just going to say it once in general...look around. You'll find them. These companies are out there actively looking, they aren't the very special, hidden, must-be-part-of-a-secret-society jobs. You should be able to find them with a little poking around.

Just a reminder.

Posted by mike at 12:35 PM