Google reveals my thoughts on crippleware. I've never been particularly quiet on the subject of the "Open Source 2.0" branding cycle of trying to say that a "mostly free" open source project is open source. The entire movement of "mostly free" pretty much disturbs me.
I do not believe though that this subject is cut and dry. I am going to use Innodb as an example. I do not consider it crippleware, and I have been amazed and delighted at Oracle's ownership of it. They have made excellent stewards of the source code.
Do they have a closed source backup tool? Yes.
Do I have an issue with this? No.
Why not? We can use Innodb just fine with or without the tool. There are no special versions of Innodb required in order to use innodb hot backup. No ifdefs, no requirements to use a non-gpl version of Innodb.
To me this is key.
It is an extension through an interface. In the last eight years anyone could have decided to re-implement the tool if they had wanted too. It has never happened, but anyone could have done it.
Interfaces to me are what make the difference. Is the interface open to competition, or is it hidden behind proprietary binaries? Proprietary smells of protectionism to me (I'm a fiscal conservative... I dislike the boo hoos of those who want a protected market).
The proposed backup drivers I have not seen. As to which side of the fence they land on at this point, or will land when they are released, is something I am unsure of.
There is a rats nest of questions regarding this strategy.
Will MySQL give out the source to customers?
Do you want the source to them? (aka take on the risk of accidently providing proprietary code to the open market).
Can I still compile code?
Monty lead a talk today on the "Future of MySQL". I am hoping his slides will be published. Having the audience chant "We don't ship crippleware" was a highlight for many I assume.
There really is an open question though, that can't be glossed over, and one that chants do not resolve.
Linbit, makers of DRBD, have close sourced versions of it. Does it invalidate what is great product? How about the guys who did Tripwire? Is Redhat a good open source steward because they do not open source the infrastructure around their Enterprise network? Do Google, Yahoo, or Facebook consume more open source then they produce?
I believe that at the end of the day most everything will be open source. If drivers and backup are important they will be created.
Companies that have invested in open source will steer clear of ambiguous environments, but they will continue to have a heterogenous environment filled with open source and close software which will inter-opt.
We live in a very mixed software world.