Special Q&A with Monty Widenius

This entry was posted by Saturday, 11 February, 2012
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As an intern with the Monty Program AB, Vangelis Katsikaros recently had an opportunity to ask the project founder and MariaDB creator, Michael Widenius (aka “Monty”), a variety of interesting questions. Vangelis generously offered to share that conversation exclusively with Linux.com readers. Here is the transcript from that interview.

Katsikaros: So Monty, What are you currently up to?

Widenius: I work in Monty Program AB, which develops MariaDB, a database system. And I also participate in Open Ocean, an investor fund that focuses in community and open source projects.

Katsikaros: In addition to MySQL there is MariaDB. What exactly is MariaDB?

Monty WideniusWidenius: MariaDB is what we do in Monty Program. We forked MySQL, after Oracle bought Sun and we evolved it. MariaDB is a full binary replacement for MySQL, so you can simply take your existing MySQL setup and install MariaDB. It's hard for people to understand or believe that the process is straightforward and nothing has to change: the configuration remains the same, the connectors remain the same.

As far as compatibility with MySQL is concerned, our goal is to remain compatible with Oracle, as much as possible in the foreseeable future. When Oracle will release a closed source extension for MySQL, we will also release an open source one. You have to understand that MariaDB is 20 years ahead of Oracle, since we have extensive experience developing the core server and we can take everything they do. On the other hand, they cannot or they don't want to take anything from us, because they are not touching General Public License (GPL).

MariaDB has a lot more features than MySQL; it's faster and has less bugs, so currently there is no reason to use MySQL anymore. However, getting that message out there is very hard, because the MySQL trademark name is very popular. And that is the main reason Sun bought MySQL: for the trademark and the user base.

Katsikaros: Who is the driving force behind MariaDB?

Widenius: Currently it's Monty Program because we have the resources and we are the best people to do it. Our job is to drive MariaDB but the project is open source and there is a community as well. So we are not doing it exclusively, we are doing it as an open source project should be. There other people who have or can get write access to the repository, and we make sure that things don't just happen or lay around after they do happen. This is our role.

Katsikaros: How is the team structured at Monty Program?

Widenius: During the 20 years of MySQL's life, MySQL AB (the company) had gathered extensive human resources and knowledge in order to develop the core server and related software. When Oracle bought Sun, the MySQL people were leaving Oracle like rats leave the sinking ship. But we didn't want this expertise, which has taken years to collect, to spread all around the world. So, Monty Program provides a good home for the MySQL developers.

In Monty Program we currently have all the original MySQL core server developers, except one. A core developer is a software engineer who can work on any, or almost any, part of the server code and successfully provide new features, improvements and bug fixes. And that's not an easy thing to do. Moreover the original architects are with us – about 60% of the code is still mine.

Katsikaros:: And SkySQL, the technical support provider?

Widenius: We have many partners and SkySQL is one of them. It is our most visible partner and we do work closely with them to ensure that both MariaDB and MySQL have have the proper technical support. Moreover, the same thing that happened with MySQL developers, when Oracle bought Sun, happened with the MySQL technical support team. SkySQL is the home for many of the original MySQL technical support team members.

Katsikaros: Tell us a bit more about your investment vehicle Open Ocean.

Widenius: Open Ocean is an investment company and we just closed our third fund of 40M Euro. We focus on companies that have a strong community and have investment potential, that usually means we expect to get 10x the money back. We are different from other venture capitals because we know open source and can give the companies

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