(This is part 9 in a series, part 8 is here – because reverse chronological order totally makes sense here)
So, back around 2007, somebody noticed that an awful lot of the downloads of MySQL and associated utilities from mysql.com were for Windows. Of course, it’s then immediately pointed out that the vast majority of Linux users will not be heading to mysql.com to download MySQL, instead using the packages from their distribution.
However, the number of people working on MySQL who had ever even attempted to compile the MySQL server on Windows when given the number of mysql users on Windows was… well…. rather embarrassing. This is very common with free and open source software – especially historically.
If you look back 10 years, Linux on the desktop was “next year will be the year of Linux on the desktop”, you know, just like how it is now. Except that while today, everything “just works” on modern Linux distros and it is Windows that is an absolute arse to get all the drivers for your hardware going, it was not that long ago that it was the other way around. Also, back then it was much more common for it to be hard to get FOSS into companies… because of a variety of reasons that weren’t valid, but were something we had to spend time explaining back then.
I’m trying to remember the MySQL developers at the time who I knew attempted to do all their MySQL Server development on Windows…. I can think of Reggie along with Vlad and Iggy (both of who joined later). It was quite rightly pointed out that the MySQL experience on Windows was very much one of “UNIX application ported to Windows” rather than “Windows server application, that also comes in a UNIX version.”
MySQL basically did absolutely nothing the way you’d expect a piece of Windows server software to do it. So, a team was put together. Well, more of a task force.
The Windows Task Force (yes, WTF) was born. It is also the best team name in the history of team names and gives me a good chuckle to this day.
Many things came out of this, including (IIRC) an Installer that we actually could find the source code for and didn’t require Delphi to build, the ability to build the server on Windows from a bzr source tree (and not need Linux/UNIX around to build some parts of the server) and making the server behave a bit more like what you’d expect if you were a Windows administrator. There were also a bunch of limits lifted due to the way that MySQL was ported to Windows, which I won’t go into here.