Is MySQL A Free Database ?

MySQL is a Free database software, licensed under the GNU GPL. Most people use the two phrases of “Free” and “Open Source” software as synonyms, but they are different from each other.

Differences between Free and Open Source

Open source is a development method for software that speeds up the process by using distributed peer review and transparency. Open source offers a guarantee of better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, and lower cost. This is due to the fact that everyone can see and contribute to the source code.

In contrast, Free Software is not about development at all. You can develop Free Software in any way you want. The license makes it free. Free Software licensing protects its rights. It is good and moral but, Free Software is not neccesarily about quality or reliability.

Why is MySQL not Open Source?

MySQL uses a closed development model. Hence, nobody can get to see the code from the outside without accepting a Contributor License Agreement (CLA). It controls the code and maintains ownership of it. And even users who signed the CLA and create patches are still stagnating often for years and not being accepted into the source. This is not OpenSource. In addition, MySQL Enterprise is a subscription-based service provided by
Oracle Corporation. This package includes advanced features, management tools, and technical support to achieve the highest levels of MySQL scalability, security, reliability, and uptime. 

Open Source software is normally maintained, owned and controlled by a decentralized network of peers. MySQL is the opposite of this. Licensing isn’t the only thing that matters i.e ownership matters too.

Google’s patches to MySQL are an example of excellent code with many simple and useful features.

This article sheds some light on how to differentiate between Free and Opensource software available in the market. In the case of free software, you will not get the source code of that particular software to modify it as per your requirements. Open source software is the one that allows you to access source the code and modify it as per your requirements.