MySQL and PostgreSQL represent two very different implementation philosophies, and being able to choose between them according to taste and merits is a good thing.
Most of us have suspected that the MySQL project itself was going to die as it was acquired by Oracle, in the same way Open Office died when it was acquired by Oracle. This is a company where good software goes to expire, either due to a deliberate intention or gross incompetence I can't say but I suspect it's a mixture of both. However sad that may be for the MySQL (or OpenOffice) brand name, the code itself lives on and continues to evolve within a rich open source ecosystem.
Hence, sensational and petulant "RIP $PRODUCTNAME" articles are unnecessary. There is no threat to existing projects based on MySQL or any other successful open source project for that matter. Not only will this stuff be free forever, it will also continue to grow and be developed on its own.
The corporate assassination of open source projects will only work if we let it, it's a purely psychological game.
I do agree that injecting postgresql into every discussion without adding anything new is getting excessive. And declaring mysql dead is clearly premature. But let me respond to this particular point:
"Show some solidarity with a fellow open source project!"
I guess I never really saw MySQL as an open project.
* when I first started using mysql it was not under the GPL, it was under some free-for-non-commercial use license
* They pretty much reject the standards completely (introducing nonstandard things like backticks that make migration away from mysql harder for no apparent benefit)
* mysql never fostered an outside developer community (by which I mean people developing mysql itself)
* the code is messy and poorly structured
* the development ecosystem, like revision control and documentation (and now tests) don't seem to be open
* the licensing of the client library is restrictive
* they require copyright assignment (although not all of the forks do)
I hope one of the forks does manage to foster a more open community, but communities aren't built overnight nor are they transplanted easily.
Of course when you're talking about community, every project seems to have a different atmosphere. Linus Torvalds is famous for not accepting patches or contributions to the Linux kernel, so is that project really open? From the perspective of a developer using MySQL, the community has always been massive, diverse, and helpful. Maybe it was a different experience on the dev mailing list, I wouldn't know. But I do know that in the end, MySQL was open where it really mattered.
I can understand though that it was probably easier and more rewarding for an outside developer to get into the inner circles of Postgres than it was to essentially join MySQL AB back in the time when they still existed.
> I hope one of the forks does manage to foster a more open community, but communities aren't built overnight nor are they transplanted easily.
I assume you're talking about the actual engine development community, and I'm not certain that's really how a lot of open source projects actually work. It seems in most cases you simply have a core group of developers doing their thing, with occasional discussions and input from the outside. I might be wrong, but that's certainly my perception. The Postgres dev community might be different, again I wouldn't know.
As an app developer, I have different expectations about that. I'm not going to take part in any discussions about implementation details, nor am I likely to submit any patches. What I care about is software quality and proper documentation, those are not necessarily a function of community.
Agreed. My perception is more that it is turning out to be one and that is a good thing.
"But I do know that in the end, MySQL was open where it really mattered."
The GPL means that there's no real fear that licenses will be scarce. And the large user community means that there will always be people to offer basic support (free or paid) and consulting. To that extent, I agree.
As far as getting bugs fixed, adapting to new use cases and changes in the market, or just moving the product further, the jury is still out. Will Oracle do it? Can any of the forks do it?
Or the larger question: are you OK with calling MySQL, as a product (i.e. the engine), "done"? I'm not saying that in a negative way. We rarely talk about software that's done, or what it would take to finish a given product, or how much sense being "done" even makes.
"It seems in most cases you simply have a core group of developers doing their thing, with occasional discussions and input from the outside."
That's not how I would describe postgresql. There are lots of people that only occasionally submit patches and lots of people that take part in design discussions even if they never submit much code. It's pretty easy to start out as an application developer and then be sucked into a design discussion, and before you know it you are criticizing a design because it doesn't fit your needs.
Even if nobody has ever seen you before, if you jump into a design discussion and have a legitimate concern or use case that hasn't been considered then it will be taken as seriously as any developer.
"What I care about is software quality and proper documentation, those are not necessarily a function of community."
Absolutely correct. Although those things are also not a function of being open source or free of charge.
Perhaps Oracle's influence was a net positive. It continually reinforces that open-source software is more about contributing positively to the code rather than simply controlling the trademark. Mozilla could be seen as the anti-Oracle in this regard. The community believes their control of the Firefox trademark has been mostly a good thing.
Once Oracle bought MySQL, I saw a lot of the anti-MySQL comments in the PostgreSQL community die off pretty fast. The types of comments changed as well. Instead of the message that "we are much better technically than MySQL" (which is still hands-down true btw), the message was "if anyone asks, PostgreSQL cannot be acquired because there is no commercial entity to acquire." The shift was very much to let concern for Oracle start the conversation and simply explain why this cannot happen with PostgreSQL.
The very basic point is that anything PostgreSQL users can say here is redundant and really only belongs when answering people's concerns about the future. "Can this happen to PostgreSQL?" gets asked and most of us wait for that question before saying "no."
>MySQL and PostgreSQL represent two very different implementation philosophies, and being able to choose between them according to taste and merits is a good thing.
I guess you could say that. I would sum it up as "PostgreSQL is what you get when database hackers set about building a database to explore new concepts in. MySQL is what you get when you get application hackers building a bottom tier for their applications." MySQL's paradigm is fatally app-centric, however and I have a hard time seeing that as a good thing. I'd be happier if the app-centric db chosen was SQLite or Firebird DB.
The other thing to keep in mind is that MySQL really has been becoming less interesting as a competitor over time, and the Oracle acquisition has helped that along as well. Really, there's no point to bringing up PostgreSQL at this point. It just feels tasteless, like a victory dance on someone's grave (premature to be exactly equivalent but you get the picture). I'd rather see PostgreSQL targetting MS SQL and Oracle than MySQL. There is no honor in beating the weak. If we are going to go after someone might as well pick the strong :-D
Agreed on this point. But at the same time, corporate-sponsored open source projects (like MySQL) are uniquely vulnerable when compared to multi-vendor ones. The hard news to break to the HN crowd is that multi-vendor projects (like PostgreSQL), despite the fact that they are fundamentally more difficult to monetize, will eventually out-compete the single vendor ones which are more friendly to the start-up model.
I googled app-centric after reading this and I've come up with comparisions made with mouse-centric, computer-centric, user-centric and I don't really understand it. Are you using it as a synonym for single-user?
Basically the issue has to do with how MySQL folks and PostgreSQL folks see the RDBMS.
MySQL users see the RDBMS as the bottom tier for the applications they are developing. Consequently the system's design is aimed at letting the application steer the interaction. If the application wants to treat 30 February as a valid date, that's the application's call and the app can set sql_mode appropriately and allow such values to be stored or not.
In other words, with MySQL, the db is there primarily to serve the application.
With PostgreSQL, it's very different. The database is there not to serve the application but to manage data. The applications are just users of that managed data. In this model the database has a very different responsibility. You might therefore call PostgreSQL data-centric. Applications cannot decide how strict data handling should be because that would defeat the whole purpose of the RDBMS in the PostgreSQL worldview, which is the system which manages and ensures meaningfulness of data.
So MySQL sees the RDBMS as ultimately serving (and being accountable to) the applications and app developers. PostgreSQL sees it as ultimately being accountable to the data and DBA's. The problem is that this makes MySQL have trouble when multiple codebases are used to access the same data since each application could conceivably be operating on different sql_mode settings. Each application can therefore be seen to be interfering with the other apps' state rather than all consuming shared managed data.
Hope this helps clarify things.
One of the things I really liked about Firebird the last time I played with it is that it could be run over a socket or embedded as a library. The PostgreSQL community will not provide a library engine because of the fear that application bugs may cause corrupted data structures in the library. Again this is wholely consistent with PostgreSQL not really caring about the single app space that much.
What this means is that if you want to distribute an application, you can actually directly link your application to the database management component directly and this simplifies the management of your app. If you need to later move the app up to a dedicated server you can do that. Firebird makes this really easy and it does so without creating the flexibility on input (and hence the fact that so many variations must be handled on output) that MySQL does.