Be Cautious About MySQL Licensing (was Re: Database suggestions?)
revdan at danshafer.com
Sat May 14 17:35:23 EDT 2005
In this discussion, it's important not to lose sight of Chipp
Walters' early comment that MySQL is NOT free for commercial use. I
was always under the impression that it was but when Chipp raised
that with me about 18 months ago and I went to the MySQL folks to
investigate, I found a dismayingly confusing plethora of license
terms and warnings that frankly scared me away from using the product.
If you are doing commercial deployment of Rev relational database
apps, and you don't want to or can't factor in the MySQL pricing, you
need to confine your choices to PostgreSQL, Valentina, and, if you're
writing single-user apps, altSQLite.
FWIW, MySQL (http://www.mysql.com) has cleaned up its message a lot
in the last year or so. They are now much clearer about when you need
their commercial license (at $595/server/yr. for basic support and
$1495/server/yr. for extended support) and when the free GPL license
But as I understand it (and I could be wrong about this but two
attorneys have told me I'm right), if I, e.g., deploy an application
designed to run on a user's desktop with a locally connected database
or on a user's LAN where, again, the database resides on their server
rather than mine, then I owe MySQL AB the server fee for each
instance. That means (again, I'm hedging my bet here by saying I'm
not sure this is correct, but I believe it is) I would pay $595/
client/year because each would have to have a local instance of the
MySQL server running.
When I asked the MySQL AB folks if I'd have to pay this fee per
client in cases where the client already has a MySQL instance running
(e.g., it comes free with OS X as I recall), they said, "Well, it
depends on the nature of the license of the providing party (in this
case, Apple), but to be safe, you'd probably want to pay for it
separately." They can't (or won't) tell me whether Apple's license
covers me or not and Apple has not responded to my queries, either.
At the end of the day, and in keeping with my desire to stay out of
courtrooms, I decided not to use MySQL in any situation where there
might ever be a doubt about the licensing issue. That essentially
means I don't use MySQL unless I'm designing an app I'm willing to
distribute free as open source.
Dan Shafer, Co-Chair
June 17-18, 2005, Monterey, California
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