MySQL Founder Urges Cautious Approach to MySQL 5.1

MySQL founder Monty Widenius criticized Version 5.1 of the MySQL open-source database in a blog post, stating numerous bugs have not been fixed despite the fact that the database is now GA. Officials at Sun Microsystems responded that Widenius' opinion does not represent the entire user community and that enterprises should test any piece of software - MySQL or otherwise - before deploying it.

MySQL founder Monty Widenius is warning enterprises to take a cautious approach to Version 5.1 of the MySQL database.

Sun Microsystems has officially given MySQL 5.1 generally available (GA) status and made the latest version of the open-source database available for download. In a Nov. 29 blog post, however, Widenius urged enterprises to take it slow with their deployment of 5.1 due to the presence of bugs-particularly in some of the new features, such as partitioning-that remain unaddressed.

"If you are using MySQL 5.1 just as a better version of MySQL 5.0 and you don't plan to use any of the new features in MySQL 5.1, then you are probably fine to try out MySQL 5.1," he wrote. "You should however not put it into production without testing it fully, preferably by running it on a couple of slaves for some weeks. It may even be the best to wait for a couple of minor/patch releases before putting the MySQL 5.1 server into production."

Widenius went on to write that there are 20 known and tagged crashing and wrong result bugs in 5.1, as well as 35 known crashing bugs from 5.0 likely to also be present in 5.1.

"We still have more than 180 serious bugs [P2] in 5.1," he added. "Some of these can be found here."

Ironically, bugs were the reason the GA date for Version 5.1 had been delayed. In April, Sun declared that the GA announcement for MySQL 5.1 was "pending." Four months later, however, Zack Urlocker, vice president of products for Sun's database group, said in an interview with eWEEK that the company had held off making the database GA to swat as many bugs as possible beforehand.

A spokesman at Sun pointed out that not everyone in the MySQL community agrees with Widenius, and Sun recommends enterprises test every piece of software before implementing it in production systems. At the same time, Sun will continue to work on MySQL 5.1 and issue updates in the future, he said.

MySQL 5.1 was in production for roughly three years and has a number of new features aimed at improving performance, including partitioning functionality, row-based replication and a new plug-in API. Given that MySQL admitted Version 5.0 was declared GA long before it was truly production-ready, it is no surprise the declaration of MySQL 5.1 as GA took time, noted Matt Aslett, an analyst with The 451 Group.

Still, even with the new features, the presence of bugs from 5.0 may be a source of concern for enterprises, he added.

"A new version of any product is bound to have bugs and needs to be approached with caution in terms of production usage, but it is worrying to read that serious bugs in 5.0 have still not been fixed and that there are problems with some of the anticipated features in 5.1, such as row-based replication," Aslett said. "These issues, and Monty Widenius' public airing of them, suggest a wider problem with the development process and release cycle for MySQL that will need to be addressed if Sun is to build momentum behind the open-source database going forward."