EC: PostgreSQL a Credible Alternative
The EC also pointed to the open-source PostgreSQL database as a "credible alternative to MySQL, which could be expected to replace to some extent the competitive force currently exerted by MySQL on the database market. In addition, the Commission found that 'forks' [branches of the MySQL code base], which are legally possible given MySQL's open source nature, might also develop in future to exercise a competitive constraint on Oracle in a sufficient and timely manner." The open-source community, which mounted a brisk email protest campaign to the EC last month, nonetheless was generally resigned to accepting the fact that Oracle was going to succeed."The EC's reasoning has to be reviewed when all the details of the decision are known, but it seems to be a decision based on wishful thinking for the future more so than anything else. PostgreSQL has been around for decades without having had its mainstream breakthrough, so the EC can't seriously claim that PostgreSQL could replace MySQL as a competitive force," Mueller said. "Forks (derived works based on an existing open source project) are a legal possibility but there's no reason to assume that any MySQL fork, or even a number of such forks collectively, could threaten Oracle to the extent that MySQL could." During its discussions with the EC, Oracle set down a 10-point list of promises regarding the stewardship of MySQL on Dec. 14, 2009. While the open source code remains available to anyone under the GPL license, Oracle will own the copyrights to any commercial version or feature of the database. Mueller isn't sure about the legal viability of those promises. "Oracle's promises are not legally binding per se, and even if they were, they wouldn't have any noteworthy pro-competitive effect. I can't think of a single bad thing, short of discontinuing the product immediately, that Oracle couldn't do while still complying fully with those promises in a legal sense," Mueller said.
"Oracle still needs clearance from the Chinese and Russian antitrust authorities, and it's a matter of respect not to consider this process finished until those major jurisdictions have also taken and announced their decisions," Florian Mueller, a longtime open source activist and representative of Michael "Monty" Widenius, the Finnish-born creator and lead developer of MySQL, told eWEEK.