MariaDB & Trademarks, and advice for your project

I want to emphasize this for those who have not spent time near trademarks: trademarks are trouble and another one of those things where no matter what, the lawyers always win. If you are starting a company or an open source project, you are going to have to spend a whole bunch of time with lawyers on trademarks or you are going to get properly, properly screwed.

MySQL AB always held the trademark for MySQL. There’s this strange thing with trademarks and free software, where while you can easily say “use and modify this code however you want” and retain copyright on it (for, say, selling your own version of it), this does not translate too well to trademarks as there’s a whole “if you don’t defend it, you lose it” thing.

The law, is, in effect, telling you that at some point you have to be an arsehole to not lose your trademark. (You can be various degrees of arsehole about it when you have to, and whenever you do, you should assume that people are acting in good faith and just have not spent the last 40,000 years of their life talking to trademark lawyers like you have).Basically, you get to spend time telling people that they have to rename their product from “MySQL Headbut” to “Headbut for MySQL” and that this is, in fact, a really important difference.

You also, at some point, get to spend a lot of time talking about when the modifications made by a Linux distribution to package your software constitute sufficient changes that it shouldn’t be using your trademark (basically so that you’re never stuck if some arse comes along, forks it, makes it awful and keeps using your name, to the detriment of your project and business).

If you’re wondering why Firefox isn’t called Firefox in Debian, you can read the Mozilla trademark policy and probably some giant thread on debian-legal I won’t point to.

Of course, there’s ‘ MySQL trademark policy and when I was at Percona, I spent some non-trivial amount of time attempting to ensure we had a trademark policy that would work from a legal angle, a corporate angle, and a get-our-software-into-linux-distros-happily angle.

So, back in 2010, Monty started talking about a draft MariaDB trademark policy (see also, Ubuntu trademark policy, WordPress trademark policy). If you are aiming to create a development community around an open source project, this is something you need to get right. There is a big difference between contributing to a corporate open source product and an open source project – both for individuals and corporations. If you are going to spend some of your spare time contributing to something, the motivation goes down when somebody else is going to directly profit off it (corporate project) versus a community of contributors and companies who will all profit off it (open source project). The most successful hybrid of these two is likely Ubuntu, and I am struggling to think of another (maybe Fedora?).

Linux is an open source project, RedHat Enterprise Linux is an open source product and in case it wasn’t obvious when OpenSolaris was no longer Open, OpenSolaris was an open source product (and some open source projects have sprung up around the code base, which is great to see!). When a corporation controls the destiny of the name and the entire source code and project infrastructure – it’s a product of that corporation, it’s not a community around a project.

From the start, it seemed that one of the purposes of MariaDB was to create a developer community around a database server that was compatible with MySQL, and eventually, to replace it. MySQL AB was not very good at having an external developer community, it was very much an open source product and not a an open source project (one of the downsides to hiring just about anyone who ever submitted a patch). Things struggled further at Sun and (I think) have actually gotten better for MySQL at Oracle – not perfect, I could pick holes in it all day if I wanted, but certainly better.

When we were doing Drizzle, we were really careful about making sure there was a development community. Ultimately, with Drizzle we made a different fatal error, and one that we knew had happened to another open source project and nearly killed it: all the key developers went to work for a single company. Looking back, this is easily my biggest professional regret and one day I’ll talk about it more.

Brian Aker observed (way back in 2010) that MariaDB was, essentially, just Monty Program. In 2013, I did my own analysis on the source tree of MariaDB 5.5.31 and MariaDB 10.0.3-ish to see if indeed there was a development community (tl;dr; there wasn’t, and I had the numbers to prove it).If you look back at the idea of the Open Database Alliance and the MariaDB Foundation, actually, I’m just going to quote Henrik here from his blog post about leaving MariaDB/Monty Program:

When I joined the company over a year ago I was immediately involved in drafting a project plan for the Open Database Alliance and its relation to MariaDB. We wanted to imitate the model of the Linux Foundation and Linux project, where the MariaDB project would be hosted by a non-profit organization where multiple vendors would collaborate and contribute. We wanted MariaDB to be a true community project, like most successful open source projects are – such as all other parts of the LAMP stack.


The reality today, confirmed to me during last week, is that:

Those in charge at Monty Program have decided to keep ownership of the MariaDB trademark, logo and domain, since this will make the company more valuable to investors and eventually to potential buyers.

Now, with Monty Program being sold to/merged into (I’m really not sure) SkySQL, it was SkySQL who had those things. So instead of having Monty Program being (at least in theory) one of the companies working on MariaDB and following the Hacker Business Model, you now have a single corporation with all the developers, all of the trademarks, that is, essentially a startup with VC looking to be valuable to potential buyers (whatever their motives).

Again, I’m going to just quote Henrik on the us-vs-them on community here:

Some may already have observed that the 5.2 release was not announced at all on, rather on the Monty Program blog. It is even intact with the “us vs them” attitude also MySQL AB had of its community, where the company is one entity and “outside community contributors” is another. This is repeated in other communication, such as the recent Recently in MariaDB newsletter.

This was, again, back in 2010.

More recently, Jeremy Cole, someone who has pumped a fair bit of personal and professional effort into MySQL and MariaDB over the past (many) years, asked what seemed to be a really simple question on the maria-discuss mailing list. Basically, “What’s going on with the MariaDB trademark? Isn’t this something that should be under the MariaDB foundation?”

The subsequent email thread was as confusing as ever and should be held up as a perfect example about what not to do. Some of us had by now, for years, smelt something fishy going on around the talk of a community project versus the reality. At the time (October 2013), Rasmus Johansson (VP of Engineering at SkySQL and Board Member of MariaDB foundation) said this:

The MariaDB Foundation and SkySQL are currently working on the trademark issue to come up with a solution on what rights to the trademark each entity should have. Expect to hear more about this in a fairly near future.


MariaDB has from its beginning been a very community friendly project and much of the success of MariaDB relies in that fact. SkySQL of course respects that.

(and at the same time, there were pages that were “Copyright MariaDB” which, as it was pointed out, was not an actual entity… so somebody just wasn’t paying attention). Also, just to make things even less clear about where SkySQL the corporation, Monty Program the corporation and the MariaDB Foundation all fit together, Mark Callaghan noticed this text up on

The MariaDB Foundation also holds the trademark of the MariaDB server and owns This ensures that the official MariaDB development tree<> will always be open for the MariaDB developer community.

So…. there’s no actual clarity here. I can imagine attempting to get involved with MariaDB inside a corporation and spending literally weeks talking to a legal department – which thrills significantly less than standing in lines at security in an airport does.

So, if you started off as yay! MariaDB is going to be a developer community around an open source project that’s all about participation, you may have even gotten code into MariaDB at various times… and then started to notice a bit of a shift… there may have been some intent to make that happen, to correct what some saw as some of the failings of MySQL, but the reality has shown something different.

Most recently, SkySQL has renamed themselves to MariaDB. Good luck to anyone who isn’t directly involved with the legal processes around all this differentiating between MariaDB the project, MariaDB Foundation and MariaDB the company and who owns what. Urgh. This is, in no way, like the Linux Foundation and Linux.

Personally, I prefer to spend my personal time contributing to open source projects rather than products. I have spent the vast majority of my professional life closer to the corporate side of open source, some of which you could better describe as closer to the open source product end of the spectrum. I think it is completely and totally valid to produce an open source product. Making successful companies, products and a butt-ton of money from open source software is an absolutely awesome thing to do and I, personally, have benefited greatly from it.

MariaDB is a corporate open source product. It is no different to Oracle MySQL in that way. Oracle has been up front and honest about it the entire time MySQL has been part of Oracle, everybody knew where they stood (even if you sometimes didn’t like it). The whole MariaDB/Monty Program/SkySQL/MariaDB Foundation/Open Database Alliance/MariaDB Corporation thing has left me with a really bitter taste in my mouth – where the opportunity to create a foundation around a true community project with successful business based on it has been completely squandered and mismanaged.

I’d much rather deal with those who are honest and true about their intentions than those who aren’t.

My guess is that this factored heavily into Henrik’s decision to leave in 2010 and (more recently) Simon Phipps’s decision to leave in August of this year. These are two people who I both highly respect, never have enough time to hang out with and I would completely trust to do the right thing and be honest when running anything in relation to free and open source software.

Maybe WebScaleSQL will succeed here – it’s a community with a purpose and several corporate contributors. A branch rather than a fork may be the best way to do this (Percona is rather successful with their branch too).

Ghosts of MySQL past, part 8.1: Five Years

With many apologies to David Bowie, come 2009 it was my 5 year anniversary with Sun (well, MySQL AB and then Sun). Companies tend to like to talk about how they like to retain employees and that many employees stay with the company for a long time. It is very, very expensive to hire the right people, so this is largely a good plan.

In 2009, it was five years since I joined MySQL AB – something I didn’t quite originally expect (let’s face it, in the modern tech industry you’re always surprised when you’re somewhere for more than a few years).

The whole process of having been with sun for 5 years seemed rather impersonal… it largely felt like a form letter automatically sent out with a certificate and small badge (below). You also got to go onto a web site and choose from a variety of gifts. So, what did I choose? The one thing that would be useful at Burning Man: a camelbak.

5 year badge for Sun Microsystems

5 year badge for Sun Microsystems

ZFS: could have been the future of UNIX Filesystems

There was a point a few years ago where Sun could have had the next generation UNIX filesystem. It was in Solaris (and people were excited), there was a port to MacOS X (that was quite exciting for people) and there was a couple of ways to run it on linux (and people were excited). So… instead of the fractured landscape of ext3, HFS+ and (the various variations of) UFS we could have had one file system that was common between all of the commonly used UNIX-like variants. Think of being able to use a file system on a removable drive that isn’t FAT and being able to take it from machine to machine (well… Windows would be a problem, but it always is).

There was some really great work done in OpenSolaris with integration between the file manager and ZFS snapshots (a slider bar to browse the history of a directory, an idea I’ve championed for over a decade now, although the Sun implementation was likely completely independently developed). The integration with the package manager was also completely awesome, crash safe upgrades!

However, all this is pretty much moot. Solaris is used by fewer people than ever, it’s out of OS X and BTRFS is going to take the place that ZFS could have held in the Linux world. So, unfortunately, ZFS is essentially dead. This is a shame…. it could have been something huge.

Rackspace Rookie-O (in Hong Kong!)

I’d meant to finish writing this way back in July… but I failed at that. Now is a good time to talk about Rookie-O as my again new colleague Andrew Hutchings (Buy his and Sergei’s book on MySQL 5.1 Plugin Development!) just went through the same thing (but in London instead of Hong Kong) given by the same trainer (Hi Eddie!).

Rackspace is the second employer I’ve had that has some kind of new hire training (the first being Sun). I am, of course, not quite counting Salmiakki as new-hire training for MySQL (although I probably should). To quote from the Wikipedia article: “Although the rumor of the heart attack was a hoax, the drink may still cause harm. The strong flavor almost completely masks the presence of ethanol, and the drinker may not realize he is consuming a drink almost 40% alcohol by volume (80-proof), leading to possible alcohol poisoning.” A promising introduction to the company.

Monty, MÃ¥rten and Kaj with Salmiakki singing Helan GÃ¥r at the MySQL User Conference Japan in 2007

Monty, MÃ¥rten and Kaj with Salmiakki singing Helan GÃ¥r at the MySQL User Conference Japan in 2007

I could possibly say something about the Sun New-Hire training… but I’m just trying to find something positive to say – and I can’t. I got a bit of hacking done? Seriously.

Actually coordinating a time to attend a Rookie-O (Rookie Orientation, the Rackspace name for new hire training) was rather tricky. There was one right before the MySQL User Conference back in April (not the best of timing), one during an upcoming team meeting (again, not ideal) and one that got organised in the middle of everything for the office in Hong Kong. So, I headed to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong streetlife

The Hong Kong office is relatively new (late 2008) and there were people there who hadn’t gone through the standard Rackspace Rookie-O (Orientation).

Rackers walking Hong Kong at Night

It was rather cool to hang out with other people who worked for the company – and in totally different areas than I do. I did get a better understanding for how the rest of the company operates and the people involved. The training itself was useful and substantially less geared towards not-my-job than Sun’s was.

The good news is that Andrew thought it was useful too. Pretty impressed so far.

A tale of a bug…

So I sometimes get asked if we funnel back bug reports or patches back to MySQL from Drizzle. Also, MariaDB adds some interest here as they are a lot closer (and indeed compatible with) to MySQL. With Drizzle, we have deviated really quite heavily from the MySQL codebase. There are still some common areas, but they’re getting rarer (especially to just directly apply a patch).

Back in June 2009, while working on Drizzle at Sun, I found a bug that I knew would affect both. The patch would even directly apply (well… close, but I made one anyway).

So the typical process of me filing a MySQL bug these days is:

  • Stewart files bug
  • In the next window of Sveta being awake, it’s verified.

This happened within a really short time.

Unfortunately, what happens next isn’t nearly as awesome.

Namely, nothing. For a year.

So a year later, I filed it in launchpad for MariaDB.

So, MariaDB is gearing up for a release, it’s a relatively low priority bug (but it does have a working, correct and obvious patch), within 2 months, Monty applied it and improved the error checking around it.

So MariaDB bug 588599 is Fix Committed (June 2nd 2010 – July 20th 2010), MySQL Bug 45377 is still Verified (July 20th 2009 – ….).

(and yes, this tends to be a general pattern I find)

But Mark says he gets things through… so yay for him.2

Continuing the journey

A couple of months ago (December 1st for those playing along at home) it marked five years to the day that I started at MySQL AB (now Sun, now Oracle). A good part of me is really surprised it was for that long and other parts surprised it wasn’t longer. Through MySQL and Sun, I met some pretty amazing people, worked with some really smart ones and formed really solid and awesome friendships. Of course, not everything was perfect (sometimes not even close), but we did have some fun.

Up until November 2008 (that’s 3 years and 11 months for those playing at home) I worked on MySQL Cluster. Still love the product and love how much better we’re making Drizzle so it’ll be the best SQL interface to NDB :)

The ideas behind Drizzle had been talked about for a while… and with my experience with internals of the MySQL server, I thought that some change and dramatic improvement was sorely needed.

Then, in 2008, Brian created a tree. I was soon sending in patches at nights, we announced to the whole world at OSCON and it captured a lot of attention.

Since November 2008 I’ve been working on Drizzle full time. It was absolutely awesome that I had the opportunity to spend all my days hacking on Drizzle – both directly with fantastic people and for fantastic people.

But… the Sun set… which was exciting and sad at the same time.

Never to fear! There were plenty of places wanting Drizzle hackers (and MySQL hackers). For me, it came down to this: “real artists ship”. While there were other places where I would no doubt be happy and work on something really cool, the only way I could end up working out where I should really be was: what is the best way to have Drizzle make a stable release that we’d see be suitable for deployment? So, Where Am I Now?


Where I’ll again be spending all my time hacking Drizzle.

Debian unstable on a Sun Fire T1000

So i got the T1000 working again (finally, after much screwing about trying to get the part). I then hit the ever annoying “no console” problem, where the console didn’t work – kind of problematic.

After a firmware upgrade, and passing “console=/dev/ttyS0” to the kernel, things work.

So the T1000 firmware 6.3 doesn’t work with modern debian kernels. Thing swork with 6.7 though.

Drizzle Developer Day reminder

We’re having a Drizzle Developer Day just after the MySQL Conference and Expo next week. You don’t have to be attending the conference to come to the Drizzle Developer Day. Just bring your enthusiasm for free databases, Drizzle and good software. Spaces are limited, so head on over to the signup page and fill in your name if you haven’t already

If coming from the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara (where the MySQL Conference and Expo is), at least I will be driving from there, so let me know if you want a lift.

VirtualBox 2.1.0 (and OpenSolaris 2008.11)

Upgraded VirtualBox and booted up my OpenSolaris VM. VirtualBox 2.1.0 finally fixes the bug where if was in resolv.conf on the host – no DNS for you in the guest (unless in the guest you were running a DNS server).

Haven’t tried it yet… but OpenGL Accelleration makes at least a checkbox appearance in VirtualBox 2.1…. so that could be rather awesome.

Going a lot better with OpenSolaris 2008.11 than previous releases.. It looks like it might be quite easy to get to the stage of building Drizzle on it.

Just figured out how to change to Dvorak! Yay, I can type again! (Go to Input Methods preference panel and add US/DVORAK as a language, move it to the top, and enable the input method application and do it that way).

Currently installing sunstudioexpress. Why not gcc? I’m pretty sure the version in OpenSolaris is still ancient (so won’t build drizzle) and Sun Studio does produce different warnings (which indicate real bugs in a bunch of cases).

Things I wish were packaged: latest protobufs, latest bzr, gcc 4.x

Debian about 1234533 times easier to install than Solaris

After what many hours trying to netboot the T1000 to install Solaris Express, I wondered “how hard is it for debian?”.

Easy. get the sparc64 boot.img, put it on TFTP server, add “filename “boot.img”;” or similar to dhcp, boot the T1000 from the service console something like this “bootmode bootscript=”boot net:dhcp”\n restart -c” and install away!

As for Solaris?

Well… dhcpd.conf:

option space SUNW;
option SUNW.root-mount-options code 1 = text;
option SUNW.root-server-ip-address code 2 = ip-address;
option SUNW.root-server-hostname code 3 = text;
option SUNW.root-path-name code 4 = text;
option SUNW.swap-server-ip-address code 5 = ip-address;
option SUNW.swap-file-path code 6 = text;
option SUNW.boot-file-path code 7 = text;
option SUNW.posix-timezone-string code 8 = text;
option SUNW.boot-read-size code 9 = unsigned integer 16;
option SUNW.install-server-ip-address code 10 = ip-address;
option SUNW.install-server-hostname code 11 = text;
option SUNW.install-path code 12 = text;
option SUNW.sysid-config-file-server code 13 = text;
option SUNW.JumpStart-server code 14 = text;
option SUNW.terminal-name code 15 = text;
option SUNW.SbootURI code 16 = text;

host hurricane {
hardware ethernet 0:14:4f:1e:28:e;
option host-name “hurricane”;
filename “sparc64-etch-boot.img”;
#       filename “sol-nv-b103-sparc”;
#       option SUNW.install-server-ip-address;
#       option SUNW.install-server-hostname “saturn”;
#       option SUNW.install-path “/mnt/sol-nv-b103-sparc/”;
#       option SUNW.root-server-ip-address;
#       option SUNW.root-server-hostname “saturn”;
#       option SUNW.root-path-name “/mnt/sol-nv-b103-sparc/Solaris_11/Tools/Boot”;


(obviously changing the comments around) and having the Solaris Express DVD mounted and NFS exported…. it *still* doesn’t work. It goes “unable to mount filesystem” with no further hints (even when tcpdumping the network).

Documentation for doing the simple thing of using $dhcp_server and $nfs_server to network boot a Solaris install on a Sparc box is *COMPLETELY* missing.

Now, I’m a smart guy (and if you don’t believe that, at least believe I’m not stupid). If I can’t get it to boot the installer, what chance do others have?

I’ll try OpenSolaris out when it’s on SPARC (and please oh please oh please just have an easy way to net boot the installer using a linux host). Please take the debian way (just a single file on tftp).

So now it’s goodbye Solaris (I’m not going to have something I can’t  re-install, upgrade or security patch) and it’s hello Debian (and sanity).

Yes, this does mean I’ll care about Drizzle on Linux Sparc.

OpenSolaris 2008.11 first impressions

Using the wonderful bittorrent, I got the CD image in next to no time (in contrast to the Solaris Express image I’m currently downloading via HTTP that’s taking forever).

Boot time in VirtualBox (off the ISO image) was rather quick, usual questions on keyboard layout and desired language (it’d be neater if these were GUI questions… but anyway). The GNOME desktop loaded up, popup window informed me that it had connected to the network. Awesome.

Package manager: opend quickly, using the repository and it does seem to have a lot of packages… even MySQL 5.0.67 (and 4.0.24). Not 5.1 though, but it is early days (and it was just released as GA the other day).

At least one unusual thing was SUNWgrub and SUNWgrubS (where the S is for source). I assume this is some packaging oddity as I don’t ese other packages like this.

SUNWii wins the odd package name award.

The Time Slider seems like possibly the most awesome thing ever. It periodically takes ZFS snapshots of your disk and presents you with a time slider in nautilus so you can just view your data how it was in the past (at previous snapshots).

I can’t see how to change the keyboard layout to DVORAK (at least while booted off the CD image).

The getting started guide also shows how to get a development environment going… this is quite promising. Will do proper install shortly and do a step by step “building drizzle on OpenSolaris 2008.11” post.

Singing in the Rain

The past 3 years, 11 months I have worked full time on NDB (MySQL Cluster). It’s been awesome. Love the product and people. In the time I’ve been on the Cluster team, we’ve gone from a small group that would easily fit in the (old old) Stockholm office to one that requires large rooms to house us all in. It’s also been all about smart people (you have to be to work on a distributed database).

With MySQL Cluster 6.4 we’re getting in a bunch of features that have been on the “wide adoption” wishlist. With each release of NDB we’ve gained a wedge of applications that can be used with it – and 6.4 is no exception.

One of the biggest things that’s been worked on is multithreaded data nodes. If you check out Jonas‘ recent posts on 500,000 reads/sec and then a massive 700,000 reads/sec.

We’ve also got a Microsoft Windows port coming up, which a number of people have asked for over the years. Mostly I think this is a “I want to try it out” thing and not a deployment thing. (can any sane person deploy a HA app on Win32?)

I’ve used “NDB$INFO” as the ultimate answer to any problem for a while now. It’s been the much-wanted monitoring interface. We have a lot of info inside NDB that currently isn’t easily user accessible (or only accessible through the magic DUMP interface or by gathering up many events in the cluster log). We have the start of NDB$INFO in 6.4 now and Martin will be continuing my work in making it truly awesome.

So go and grab the 6.4 tree and have a look – things are looking sweet.

What next for me?

Well… a while ago I started hacking on Drizzle. Why? Well… I thought we could move the database server in a new direction and make it more modular, leaner, meaner query machine.

And now, I’m starting to work on it full time.

It’s exciting, and I’ll be blogging on the first TODO which is remove the FRM file and switch to a full discovery method shortly.

UPDATE: Yes, I’m working full time on Drizzle for Sun Microsystems (in the CTO group). While not spending work time on NDB anymore, no doubt you’ll still see fun-time patches. 3 dev release

So after seeing Paul Fenwick rave about the presenter screen for OO 3, I decided to grab the debs and give it a go.

It still is very slow opening large presentations (i.e. mine), but it does look nicer at least… well… at least some of the widgets do.

Will report back when I’ve had a bit more time to fiddle with it.

Firefox on OpenSolaris fixed (and installed bzr)

Thanks to Glynn for pointing me to the right thread on (in a comment on my Good adventures with OpenSolaris post). The package verification thingy (pkg verify -v -f SUNWfirefox) did actually throw an error (indicating some sort of problem). So that’s pretty neat. The fact that it got into trouble in the first place isn’t good, but corruption detection is the next best thing.

I still occationally hit the bug in VirtualBox where if you have in your resolv.conf on your host (e.g. running a local caching nameserver), VirtualBox passes this through to the guest, so the guest tries to use the guest as a nameserver – this usually doesn’t work so well.

The good news is, Firefox now works in my OpenSolaris VM.

The bad news is that even though I’ve gone and set my keyboard layout as DVORAK (with the Input Method Switcher applet), whath should be ctrl-l (for location bar) in Firefox, actually brings up the Print dialog (on DVORAK, L is where P is on QWERTY).

But, I’ve managed to download bazaar now, and the install was simple (just follow INSTALL in the bzr tarball). At some point I’ll badger someone to make an OpenSolaris package for it so you could do “pkg install bzr”, but you can’t do that yet.

The next challenge will be to branch repositories from the host onto a temp drive, build and test.