MySQL Staying Open

Sun was initially thinking of a commercial fork for MySQL with some enhanced things like encryption and compression backup for commercial users. Obviously this created some outcry. It appears they’ve now reconsidered and those features will be open source. To quote Kaj Arnö:

…expect Sun/MySQL to continue experimenting with the business model, and with what’s offered for the community and what’s offered commercial-only. We won’t always know the right answer from the beginning, but we want MySQL to be the most popular database for both paying and non-paying users.

The willingness to listen to community feedback, and look for a balance means Sun may not prove to be a bad thing for MySQL, of course time is the ultimate test. More than once a product has been written off after an acquisition only blossomed, or has failed when success seemed certain.

Balancing open source in business is no easy matter, both from producing and from consuming. It forces many people into new rolls, developers, visionaries into lawyers, and lawyers into tech savvy computer elitists. There’s no standard model for everyone to follow as every project and every company is unique. Striking a balance in such a dynamic and evolving environment is tough, when there’s no simple formula to help model business plans, it’s even more complicated.

Given open source adoption in the enterprise is on the rise, and corporate backing of open source seems to be following that, I suspect there will be some innovation in this field in the next few years as some of the more clever individuals find new ways to strike that magic balance.

New Java Plugin

There are a few goodies in the new java plugin that will be available for Firefox 3.0 and later that I’m really glad to see:

  • Improved reliability. The JVM running the applet is isolated from the web browser at the operating system level. If something should go wrong while running the applet, or if an uncooperative applet refuses to shut down, the new Java Plug-In detects and handles the error condition gracefully; the web browser is unaffected.
  • Improved user experience. The new Java Plug-In starts applets in the background, so the web browser always remains responsive. Applets appear on the web page as they become ready to run.

A major criticism of java applets has always been their impact on browser performance. This should do a lot to remedy the problem. Another great addition is that you can now use an animated loading gif by using a new image param such as:

<applet archive="large_archive.jar"
          code="MyApplet"
          width="300" height="300">
    <!– Use an animated GIF as an indeterminate progress bar
          while the applet is loading –>
    <param name="image" value="animated_gif.gif" />
    <!– Turn off the box border for better blending with the
          surrounding web page –>
    <param name="boxborder" value="false" />
    <!– Center the image in the applet’s area –>
    <param name="centerimage" value="true" />
</applet>

There’s other great stuff, but these are my personal favorites as they resolve long time gripes. You can find the above plus more in the release notes.

[Hat Tip: Henrik Gemal]

ZFS On Mac OS X

Anyone with an interest in file systems, data management, large scale storage, and security has been keeping an eye on Sun’s ZFS for a while now. Apple looks like it will ship the first consumer-targeted OS to feature workable ZFS support. It’s in Leopard, but read only. Apple has now released binaries and source. It’s still not ready for prime time (not even bootable, and has some serious bugs), but it’s progressing.

While not in Apple’s implementation yet (it is however planned), ZFS supports things like compression and encryption. ZFS is also a 128bit filesystem, so for the foreseeable future, it’s enough storage for anyone. Dynamic striping and Snapshots are also extremely interesting. I’m curious to know how snapshots in ZFS will integrate into Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard with Time Machine. I wonder if complete ZFS support will make a 10.5 revision or if it will be read-only until 10.6.

I am however curious if they have given any thought to solid state storage. It’s pretty clear that’s where the future is headed. While ZFS targets size rather than performance (meaning the two won’t collide for some time as solid state storage won’t be practical for large storage arrays for a few more years), I wonder if ZFS would be able to do things like wear-leveling. So far I haven’t seen any documentation to hint that the feature exists (I’d presume it doesn’t). No idea if it would be something that could be added or if it’s nearly impossible.

Google Badware Notification

Google has started providing notification before it lets you visit a search result known to contain badware. It’s done in partnership with StopBadware.org, who has a list of sponsors including: Google, Lenovo, and Sun Microsystems.

So far the feature seems pretty good. I’m sure there will be a few C&D‘s trying to get this feature taken down, now that some companies have found their revenue model shattered. To help prevent accidental blacklisting they have been trying to contact websites that are blacklisted so they can try and fix it (should they want to). Hopefully that will eliminate/minimize any errors.

I’d venture most people stumble upon these sites one of a few ways:

  1. Spam, or it’s instant messaging counterpart Spim. Linking to dubious websites in hopes of generating revenue at a computer owners expense.
  2. Search results. The prime situation where a web surfer visits sites out of their ordinary traffic patterns and may fall victim to such practices.

Google just took a big bite out of #2. Gmail/Yahoo/Microsoft/AOL have been working hard on #1. That should really help make the web a safer place… until the next menace takes the web by storm.