Choosing an Open-Source Database - Page 5


There are other grounds on which to compare the two open-source databases, including ease of use, stability, existing skills and licensing. As with the other categories I went into above, much of the feedback youll get on ease of use and stability is subjective. Opinions on stability vary according to particular users applications and environments. Opinions on ease of use depend on what other database(s) a given user is familiar with. Those whove worked with Oracle, for example, report that they feel at home and comfortable with PostgreSQL. Users of smaller, desktop or dedicated Web server databases such as Foxpro tend to be more comfortable with MySQL. Thats a generalization, but its based on a good amount of confirmation gleaned from users and from forums.

When it comes to existing skills, chances are better that youll find MySQL skills in your organization than that youll find familiarity with PostgreSQL. MySQL wins, again, by sheer numbers.

MySQL is licensed under the GNU GPL (General Public License) but offers an alternative commercial license for those who dont want to be restricted by that license. PostgreSQL uses the BSD license, which stipulates that the credits have to be maintained but beyond that you can use it pretty much as you see fit.

And in summary, not to be lazy, but I just cant think of a better way to close the topic than by reprinting a blog entry written by Zawodny:

"[MySQL] does many things [other databases] do not and doesnt do things they do," Zawodny writes. "It satisfies different needs. … I care about how MySQL fits the needs of people I work with. Often it does. Sometimes it doesnt. And I have little problem figuring out the difference. But, hey, if you feel like bitching MySQL, I wont try to stop you. ... But the recovering Catholic in me knows that youll probably go to hell for it."

Again I say, hallelujah and amen. On that note, Ill say best of luck in scoping out open-source databases, and I hope to see you at LinuxWorld.

Let me know why you love or hate MySQL or PostgreSQL. Write me at

Database Center Editor Lisa Vaas has written about enterprise applications since 1997.