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).

Using Dtrace to find out if the hardware or Solaris is slow (but really just working around the problem)

A little while ago, I was the brave soul tasked with making sure Drizzle was working properly and passing all tests on Solaris and OpenSolaris. Brian recently blogged about some of the advantages of also running on Solaris and the SunStudio compilers – more warnings from the compiler is a good thing. Many kudos goes to Monty Taylor for being the brave soul who fixed most of the compiler warnings (and for us, warnings=errors – so we have to fix them) for the SunStudio compilers before I got to making te tests work.

So, I got to the end of it all and got pointed to an OpenSolaris x86 box where the drizzleslap test was timing out. The timeout for tests is some amazingly long amount of time – 15 minutes. All the drizzle-test-run tests are rather short tests.

To make running the tests quick, I usually LD_PRELOAD libeatmydata – a simple way of disabling pesky things like fsync that take a long time (rumors that I nickname it libmacosxsimulation are entirely true). It’s pretty simple to build libeatmydata on Solaris too (I periodically do this and always intend to check in the associated Makefile but never do).

Unfortunately, on OpenSolaris a bunch of things are built 32bit and others 64bit and just doing “ ./dtr” doesn’t work – I’d have to modify the test script to only do the LD_PRELOAD for drizzled – which is annoying.

On my T1000 running Debian, the drizzleslap test takes 42 seconds to complete with libeatmydata, or 393 seconds when it’s really doing fsyncs. So for it to be timing out on this OpenSolaris x86 box – i.e. taking more than 15 minutes, was strange.

So… what was going on? Step 1: is anything actually going on? One way to test this is to see if disk IO is being generated. On Linux, we can use “iostat”. On Solaris, we can use “zpool iostat”. Things were going to disk for the whole time of the test. Time to compare what the difference between the platforms is.

Well.. a typical way that tests have taken forever have been because of lots of transactions: i.e. lots of fsync(). You are then dependent on the fsync() performance.

If we look at “iostat -x” and the avgrq-sz field on Linux, we’ll see that the average request size is on 10-12 sectors (512 byte blocks). i.e. about 5 or 6kb.

If we look at “zpool iostat 1” on OpenSolaris, we see a bit of a different story, but similar enough that you could safely assume that lots of small synchronous IOs were going on. After a bit of reading of the ZFS on-disk format documents, I had a slightly better idea what was going on that could be causing me seeing a larger average request size on ZFS than on Linux with XFS.

So… perhaps it’s the speed of these syncs? Ordinarily, I’d just write up a quick LD_PRELOAD library that wraps fsync() and times it (perhaps writing to a file so I could do analysis on it later). Since I was working on Solaris… I thought I’d try DTrace. Some google-foo and dtrace hacking later, I tried this:

stewart@drizzle-dev:~/drizzle/sparc$ time pfexec dtrace -n ‘syscall::fdsync:entry /execname == “drizzled” / { self->ts[self->stack++] = timestamp; } syscall::fdsync:return /self->ts[self->stack – 1]/ { this->elapsed = timestamp – self->ts[–self->stack]; @[probefunc] = count(); @a[probefunc] = quantize(this->elapsed); self->ts[self->stack] =0; }’

dtrace: description 'syscall::fdsync:entry ' matched 2 probes

  fdsync                                                         1600
           value  ------------- Distribution ------------- count
        33554432 |                                         0
        67108864 |@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@   1520
       134217728 |@@                                       79
       268435456 |                                         1
       536870912 |                                         0        

real	4m26.837s
user	0m0.657s
sys	0m0.566s

Which did seem like an awful long time for an fsync() to take. Although the filesystem was on a single disk, it was meant to be made remotely recently, and it’s sitting on a Sun controller… so it should be a bit better than that. From reading some of the ZFS on-disk spec, it could be some bug that means we’re waiting for a checkpoint to be written instead of forcing the sync out when we call fsync() – but I sought another solution (as on other Solaris/OpenSolaris systems this wasn’t a problem – so perhaps fixed in newer kernels or it’s a driver issue).

So I went and added “–commit=100” to a bunch of places in the drizzleslap test to batch things into transactions. The idea being to greatly reduce the number of fsync() calls to bring the execution time of the drizzleslap test on the machine to get below 15minutes. A bit of jiggerypokery later (some tests needed to not have the –commit to avoid various locking foo) and I had something that should run.

Now, ~113 seconds on the T1000 on Linux (with a single SATA disk, down from an original 393 seconds) and ~437 seconds on the OpenSolaris box. For giggles, tried it on a Solaris box that’s running UFS on a 10k RPM SAS drive: ~44 seconds.

In Summary:

T1000, Linux, libeatmydata, XFS: ~42 seconds (before optim)
T1000, Linux, 7200RPM SATA, XFS: ~113 seconds
T5240, Solaris 10, 10k RPM SAS, UFS: ~44 seconds
16 core Xeon, OpenSolaris, 7200RPM, ZFS: ~437 seconds

So, on that hardware setup – something is strange. The 10k SAS drive on UFS on the CoolThreads box is really nice though…. makes me want that kind of disk here.

This page was useful, and I used it as a basis for some of my DTrace scripts:

Also thanks to several people on #opensolaris on Freenode who helped me out with various Solaris specific commands in tracking this down.

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.

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.

Good adventures with OpenSolaris

First of all, thanks to everyone who commented on my previous OpenSolaris entry (which wasn’t really positive at all).

I recently tried again – this time starting with an ISO of build 93. I’d recommend completely ignoring the 2008.05 release and going straight for the build 93 image.

Installed easily in VirtualBox, adding the VirtualBox extensions was easy. Select “Devices -> Install Guest Additions” in the VirtualBox menu, then when logged into the OpenSolaris install, do the following:


pkgadd -d /media/VBOXADDITIONS_1.6.0_30421/VBoxSolarisAdditions.pkg

(you then say yes, i really do want to install it. rather obvious. I had to do this step again after the “pkg image-update” below though). Just logging out and then back in again gets you all the awesomeness you’d expect from running other guests (such as that system released by a large corporation in Redmond).

The “pkg image-update” went as expected, and I’m now running build 94.

I installed SunStudio Express (compilers) pretty easily – “pkg install sunstudio”. Unfortunately, this is all in /opt/SunStudioExpress and not in $PATH, which would have been much more useful. I guess there’s still a bit to go before usability nirvana. Also, no .desktop entries, so have to explicitly run /opt/SunStudioExpress/bin/sunstudio to get the NetBeans gui. Presumably if i add /opt/SunStudioExpress/bin to PATH, building random software packages will be nicer.

So, I then want bzr so i can pull source repositories. Monty Taylor informs me that the magic packages you want are: SUNWgcc, gcc-dv and SUNWtoo. Then you can build bzr as downloaded from the website. Installed these easily.

However, now trying to get the bzr source:
$ firefox firefox-bin: fatal: /usr/lib/firefox/ corrupt or truncated file

and then symbol kPStaticModules: referenced symbol not found.

So maybe I shouldn’t have upgraded to build 94…..

But certainly in much better shape than the may release, but be warned, it’s still a work-in-progress and some things may sporadically not work from time to time (e.g. like firefox and now).

Hopefully, some time soon I’ll get a MySQL build (well… really I want MySQL Cluster, and later drizzle) going and will really be able to hammer these things with dtrace.

Adventures with OpenSolaris

So… some colleagues have been experimenting with DTrace a bit, and I’ve been (for a while now) wanting to experiment with it.

The challenge now, instead of in the past, is that I’m setting up a Solaris based system – not getting one premade.

I chose OpenSolaris as I’d previously tried Solaris 10 and just sunk too much time trying to get updates and a development environment installed (another colleague could get the opposite to me going: he got devtools but no updates. at least mine was up to date and secure… but without a compiler).

So… OpenSolaris. It isn’t 100% open, there’s binary only drivers and such… but compared to previous Solaris, a whole lot better. Now, if only it was GPL licensed so we could have cross-pollination with Linux.

I grabbed the 2008.05 ISO as soon (in fact, slightly before) it was released and installed it in VirtualBox.

The installation was shiny – one of the best OS installs I’ve seen in a while. It set up nice things (zfs, X) and (an improvement on the previous release) even managed to get all the hardware going (not sound though).

However, on first reboot, nasty surprise. DNS isn’t enabled by default.

I found out why DNS isn’t enabled by default – and (as usual) this comes down to hysterical raisins. Back in what we laughingly call the past, during install Solaris would ask you what services you wanted to use for name resolution (which I guess made sense when people used yp/NIS more often than DNS). The default didn’t include DNS.

In the graphical installer, it just chose the default without asking… which is no DNS. So my mother would be able to install OpenSolaris, but once done, she’d have to know to type in instead of into Firefox. However, I swallowed my pride, edited /etc/nsswitch.conf and went along my business (I wonder the percentage of users who would actually go from “hrrm, internet not working” to editing /etc/nsswitch.conf without intense googling).

The UI did look nice though. Nice looking GDM, GNOME desktop looked nice. You could tell that whoever did the theme had spent too much time near MacOS X, but I’ll forgive them for that. The default shell is remotely sane and even though the bash completions aren’t as funky as on Ubuntu, I managed (unlike sitting at cmd.exe, where somebody is likely to die each time my keystrokes end up there).

I even had a look at the graphical package management tool – which looked quite nice. I even tried to do an update via it… which ended in what seemed to be a locked package manager and general amounts of fail. To see if it had just stopped or was chewing up my CPU or memory, I opened a terminal and ran ‘top’.

I then found out that top isn’t installed by default. It’s 57kb on my Ubuntu 8.04 laptop so disk space couldn’t be the reason why it’s not installed. It’s certainly not a “it’s a minimal install” argument, there’s lots of other things there by default.

Next step, let’s get updates (some time had elapsed between first install and now).

Seeing as I hadn’t met too much success with the graphical utility (it was at version 0.0000001 or something, so I don’t lay blame there). I find out that ‘pkg image-update’ is what you want to run. So I do.

It chugs for a while and says there’s 1GB of updates. That’s okay, I (where I=Sun) pay for what here on the arse end of the Internet is considered a decent link to my home office. About 20-30minutes later, having downloaded about 600MB, it goes “url timedout error” and aborts. Oh well I think, that’s easy – i’ll run it again and it’ll just resume downloading (remember the revolution when that started working, you know, in 1997).

I then discovered that pkg doesn’t resume downloads. It creates a snapshot using ZFS and puts the updates in it. If anything goes wrong, it just deletes the snapshot. This is a huge benefit over (say) dpkg, which if you press the reset button at the right time will leave your system very, very fucked (magic incantations can revive it, but it’s not fun – and the dpkg developers don’t think it’s a problem – come to my “Eat My Data” talk at OSCON to find out the full story). So OpenSolaris pkg wins on the “don’t ruin my working OS install already” front, but fails on resuming downloads.

I try again. Same story.

It’s now wasted a bit over 1GB of downloads… which equates to a couple of dollars.

I wait a few days, a week, and try again. Same story. I even try with a few hints found online that should fix things (well.. they did let another 100MB on average download before dying with the same story).

I then decided to just try and do the minimal – I wanted a development environment so I could build a MySQL Server with NDB and then play with DTrace to help nut out a performance problem or two.

So i tell pkg to install SunStudio Express. I’m even using instructions off, so it has to work.

It’s only ~500MB now (IIRC). Fails with exactly the same error as before (url timedout). Gah!

So, this brings us to today. I head into the Sun office.

I figure “this just has to work from a Sun office… ” and I was right!

It got through the (now) 1500MB download of updates!

It even applied them!



Well, no, – FAIL.

It now refused to boot with the updates. Or rather, it just rebooted soon after having started booting. No panic, no error screen, no “will reboot in 120 seconds” or anything useful. Instead, you just saw a flicker of the error message before it rebooted.

So… with some very careful pause/unpause of the VM (thanks VirtualBox… I also have a feature request now – pause before reboot :) I got this:

Aparrently the successful update, not so much.

Hrrm… perhaps select the known good one from the GRUB menu? It did actually boot! But this wasn’t just the old kernel, it was the whole older system. I guess that’s a possible upside of ZFS snapshots…. but oh my, that could be sooooo subtle and lead to data loss that it’s really quite dangerous.

I was still no closer to getting an up to date opensolaris system with enough developer tools to build a MySQL Server and use dtrace.

And this was enough. It’s now gone and I get my 10GB of disk back.

Maybe I’ll try again later… but I’m finding the google-perftools to be rather exciting and they’re really satisfying shiny thing urges at the moment.