Sun's Mickos: I'm OK with Monty's MySQL 5.1 rant

A senior Sun executive on Monday downplayed the controversy over recent public criticisms by a MySQL co-founder.

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

Widenius 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."

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

But a senior Sun executive says Widenius remains there 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," said Marten Mickos, senior vice president of Sun's database group, in an interview Monday. "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. "We have changed the release model so that instead of focusing on quality and features our release is now defined by timeliness and features. Quality is not regarded to be that important," he wrote. "To quote Marten Mickos: 'MySQL 5.1 will be release[d] as GA in or before December because I say so.' Marten's reasons for this is that he needs something he can sell and a release marked 'GA' is much easier to sell than a release marked 'RC.'"

Mickos declined to address specific points Widenius made in the post, but said the 5.1 release is "great" and that he is "very confident" with it. 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 on his blog 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 reach this goal more sooner than later."

Other MySQL team members are vigorously defending the company's decision to place MySQL 5.1 in GA status.

"I absolutely trust the judgment of MySQL management and the ability of my fellow engineers," wrote Chistopher Powers, senior software engineer, in a blog post Sunday.

"I have developed operating systems, telecommunication software, database microkernels, medical device firmware and, most importantly, applications for the wholesale distribution of beer," he added. "Every single one of these products shipped with known bugs -- serious bugs -- and every single one of these products shipped with at least someone strongly questioning the decision to ship. Every single one. ... And the bugs got fixed and then we moved on. We moved on."

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