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4/1/2004
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MySQL Eases Restrictions On PHP Licensing

After some backlash from the open-source community, MySQL eased bundling restrictions and made an exception to the license for PHP, which means the libraries can be included again in the PHP package.

Open-source database vendor MySQL recently initiated some restrictions on the bundling of MySQL libraries with the PHP scripting language. Some observers criticized the restrictions as an example of the fragility of open-source technology, suggesting that the limitations could break the easy-deployment model of LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP). As it turns out, their fears were unwarranted.

The restrictions put MySQL on the same terms as most closed systems integrating with a relational database--libraries not always included. The change in MySQL licensing from LGPL (Lesser GNU Public License) to the more restrictive GPL (GNU Public License) caused many PHP developers to remove the MySQL libraries previously distributed with PHP. Without them, MySQL databases can be integrated and used by PHP easily but require separate installations, just as Oracle would. By unbundling MySQL libraries from PHP, the company eliminated one of the key advantages that made its product the de facto choice for many database-driven Web apps.

After some backlash from the open-source community, MySQL eased the restrictions and made an exception to the license for PHP, which means the libraries can be included again in the PHP package. This is no different from most packaged applications, which often require the purchase and segregated installation of third-party libraries unless an agreement between the two relevant companies has been reached. MySQL's exception for PHP is the open-source equivalent of such closed-source agreements and partnerships.

MySQL's change of heart is admirable. But even if the restrictions had remained, it's unlikely they would have caused any serious problems, other than annoying database administrators by requiring a separate download and installation. Most administrators face tougher problems on their coffee breaks.

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