Subject: Re: Tim's paradigm shift
From: "Benjamin J. Tilly " <ben_tilly@operamail.com>
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 02:26:43 +0800

David Fetter <david@fetter.org> wrote:
> On Tue, Jun 29, 2004 at 06:45:21PM +0100, Jamie Lokier wrote:
> > Matt Asay wrote:
[...]
> > How about because if MySQL wasn't open source, it wouldn't be
> > carried by any of the Linux(tm) distros and thus wouldn't be seen as
> > a "standard" Linux(tm) component?
> 
> MySQL is shareware, and in technical terms, it's what we call a
> "steaming pile of dog shit."  It does not do anything good for FLOSS.

I'd suggest re-reading _The Innovator's Dilemma_, and focusing
on the fact that new product categories are often decided on
new competitive advantages.  For instance what won the day for
hydraulic scoops vs wires was not ultimately cost - it was
safety.  A snapping wire could kill someone, but a failing
hydraulic system won't.

Whatever its technical faults, MySQL is the easiest to install
and administer reasonably functional relational database out
there.  There are easier ones to install, using Perl with
DBD::CSV is an absurd example, and SQLite is a more reasonable
one.  But there are none that offer a good mix of widely used
features and performance.

For a large portion of the new markets being created by MySQL,
this advantage matters a lot more than missing features and
poor ACID semantics.  If this shocks you, then remember that
MySQL is used for the internet-enabled version of what people
used to use MS Access for.  Compare MySQL to Access on
technical grounds - who wins?

[...]
> > If it was the best, cheapest and only database, it might get away
> > with no cost distribution as a 3rd party add-on to Linux, but it
> > isn't: PostgreSQL is a very similar competitive product and would
> > win on ideological grounds alone if MySQL weren't open source.
> 
> The contest is by no means over.

"Free software is only free if your time is worth nothing."

It is indeed cheaper for one piece of free software to be
cheaper than another.  For a beginner who has only a cursory
understanding of relational databases, MySQL is cheaper.  It
is the one that you're likely to hear of first, it is easy
to set up, and works reasonably well for most people's needs.

Cheers,
Ben