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The announcement that SCO had signed a partnership with MySQL to develop a version for OpenServer 6 came out a while ago and has been kicking around in the back of my head annoying me. It annoys me because it seems to be an anomaly; it must be some other SCO, some other MySQL. But no, it's real.

Well, maybe not so real. This is the commercial version of MySQL that they are partnering on. You didn't know there was a commercial version? Either did I. I thought the $1,995 per server per year for MySQL Network Silver was just the open source product bundled with support.

I didn't get any other impression from reading their licensing page, although it is pretty confusing on the commercial side. You can download MySQL freely, but it's not so clear to me that you are actually allowed to use it other than as a hobbiest. Obviously a lot of folks do, but it's murky water, I think.

And apparently there are code differences between the open source version and the commercial because otherwise why would SCO and MySQL need a development partnership? This eWeek article does say the development is "trivial", which implies that most of this is just joint marketing.

This isn't the first time MySQL has made such agreements. They had one with Progress, and that ended up in court.

Of course the vagueness about licensing is deliberate. RedHat does the same thing, as do other vendors who "support" GPL. Really, some use open source as a marketing tool and want you to be confused as to whether you can use the free version and even as to how to get it. It's only when pushed against the wall, as MySQL was with regard to PHP's use of MySQL that they'll make unambiguous statements about acceptable use.

So it seems that SCO may be finally ready to learn some lessons about Open Source, and this deal could be more important in that regard than for any other reason. I've said before that if SCO wants to survive, they need to get on the Open Source train. With sufficient skullduggery, misdirection, obfuscation and fud, a company can be "Open Source" and commercial at the same time.

Gosh, when you look at it that way, is it surprising that even Microsoft has dipped its toe in these waters?. SCO may be steeling up its nerve for a full scale plunge, though my bet is that they never do more than splash themselves a bit.

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© Tony Lawrence

Mon Sep 26 14:00:36 2005: 1125   bruceg2004

Think of how many web hosting providers have MySQL as part of their "Package". If you only could use as a "hobiest", can you imagine the number of sites out there that violate the license? That is a lot of people to go after, and would be a bad move for MySQL, since most people would probably dump it in favor of PostgreSQL.

- Bruce

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