Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Linux MySQL distros meeting in Brussels

When I saw Shlomi's post on why not to use apt-get or yum for MySQL, I thought immediately that his conclusions are quite reasonable. What you get from the Linux distributions is not the same thing that you find in the official MySQL downloads page. Now, whether you value more the completeness of the server or the ease of administration through the distribution installation tools, it's up to you and your business goals. We at the MySQL team have organized a meeting with the Linux distributions with the intent of finding out which differences and problems we may have with each other, and to solve them by improving communication. What follows is a summary of what happened in Brussels during the meeting.

Linux Distro MySQL packagers meeting


Linux distributions ship MySQL products (Server, GUI Tools, connectors, Cluster) with different criteria and different grade of maturity, according to their own goals.
Due to lack of communication and policy conflicts, the distros almost always ship outdated versions of MySQL server and MySQL Cluster. The lag between the shipped version and the latest product shipped by MySQL ranges from a few months to several years.
By mutual understanding, the distros will now try to ship recent versions of Cluster (7.x) in a separate package.


(see some more pictures from the meeting).

Giuseppe Maxia, MySQL Community Team Lead, Italy
Tomas Ulin, MySQL VP Engineering, Sweden
Harmut Holzgraefe, MySQL Support, Germany
Lars Heill, MySQL Build, Norway (Trondheim)
Joro Kodinov, MySQL Engineering / 5.1, Bulgaria
Oden Eriksson, Mandriva, Sweden
Mathias Gug, Canonical/Ubuntu, Canada
Robin H. Johnson, Gentoo Linux, Canada
Michal Hrušecký, Novell/openSUSE, Czech Republic
Geir Høydalsvik, MySQL QA, Norway (Trondheim)
Norbert Tretkowski, Debian Linux, Germany
Kaj Arnö, MySQL VP Community Relations, Germany

Main issues from the distributions:

d1. Security bugs are invisible until MySQL releases a fix. They would like to get visibility of the bug report, to become aware of the problem and eventually help fixing it. We are looking into this matter.

d2. Due to lack of communication, the distros were running the test suite with different parameters. Gentoo packages the server with UTF-8 as default character set, and this causes several tests to fail. Our QA team is looking into it.

d3. Bug databases are different for each distros. They usually solve problems on their own, or send the issue upstream (to the MySQL team at Sun, now Oracle) when it is a legitimate bug.

d4. Debian and Ubuntu don't apply all our patches to the server that they ship. They only apply security bugs and fix for bugs that don't introduce new or changed functionality. This is, IMO, mostly a matter of terminology, since the new functionality is only added as a side effect of fixing a bug. For example, when we fixed Bug#49222: Mark RAND() as unsafe, there is a change in functionality. Now RAND() is logged in ROW format, as it should have been in the first place. It is indeed a new functionality, but as a user I would rather have this bug fix in my server, than adhering to the strict rules of no changes.

d5. GUI tools are still shipped as current although they aren't actively supported, with patches provided by OpenSuse.

d6. While we provide specifications for .rpm packages, we don't do that for .deb ones. Debian/Ubuntu ask if we can include them in our code.

Main issues from the MySQL team:

m1. Cluster packages are outdated. Mainly for miscommunication, some distros are building the cluster binaries with the server package, thus shipping quite old and non-functional cluster binaries. After an explanation on the Cluster roadmap, the distros agreed to ship 7.x binaries from now on. We agreed that we will modify the build scripts in the server to avoid compiling the cluster binaries unintentionally.

m2. MySQL Workbench is not included in the stable releases. There are two reasons: it is not GA yet, and its source includes non-GPL code (for Windows and Mac) that needs to be removed before being used by Debian and derivatives. Moreover, Debian communicates that some DBAs don't like the idea of deploying a design tool for daily database administration.


All in all, I feel that this meeting was a success. We achieved a lot during the proceedings, solving problems ranging from simple communication mismatches to neglected bugs. And meeting in person with the ones who deal actively with MySQL in the Linux distros is quite a rewarding experience.
From a technical standpoint, I hadn't realized that every distribution is shipping a different server. That is quite a challenge for the common users who may need to choose between versions in several sites. However, this meeting has also shown me that all the participants have very high quality standards, and the difference in shipped versions is mostly due to the peculiarity of many shipping calendars.
Thanks to all the participants. We fixed many issues, and we had lots of fun at the same time. We should do that more often!

Friday, February 05, 2010

MySQL Developers Room at FOSDEM 2010

I'm going to FOSDEM, the Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting

I am in Brussels, waiting to attend FOSDEM 2010, one of the biggest open source gatherings in Europe, taking place this weekend in Brussels.
On Sunday, there is a Developers Room for MySQL and Friends, with 14 talks from open source professionals coming from Europe and North America.

The novelty of this round of talks is that thy will be 20 minutes long, rather than 1 hour. This will force all presenters to be more cautious about their timing, and to concentrate their talks on the essential. Even the experienced ones, who have given the same talk several times, will have to make an effort to come to the point in less time. The idea cam from reading Scott Berkun's book, Confessions of a public speaker, where he argues successfully on the usefulness of short lectures. It's going to be interesting!
The hosts of the Developers Room are Ronald Bradford and myself, but nothing of this could have happened without the excellent preparatory work done by Lenz Grimmer, who can't be here to enjoy the results of his organization, because he must stay home, waiting for his second child to come any moment. Thanks, Lenz, and good luck!
In addition to the DevRoom, I will have a lightning talk on an unusual (for my public speaking record) topic: Blaming the unknown: a positive approach to technology. If you happen to be around, come see it. It's fun, I promise you, and also informative, or so I hope.