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Re: Comparing databases

From: Josh Berkus <josh(at)agliodbs(dot)com>
To: Paul Ganainm <paulsnewsgroups(at)hotmail(dot)com>,pgsql-advocacy(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: Comparing databases
Date: 2003-11-22 19:09:13
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Lists: pgsql-advocacy

> I am very familiar with Interbase and Firebird. I have recently started
> looking at PostgreSQL, and I am currently reading extensively about it.
> I don't wish to start a flame war or anything, but some of the claims in
> this post are just downright wrong

Well, we're glad to have you to help.   While most of us have a general idea 
of what Firebird is, I don't think anyone on this list actively uses it.   
When/if we do a grid/feature comparison, your help would be invaluable in 
making that comparison with Firebird accurate.

Also keep in mind that this is an internal discussion list, so people do not 
feel restricted to only extensively researched facts.   There's a lot of 
"throwing ideas out there".

> Interbase/Firebird is probably (at least as far as I can see) the
> closest to PostgreSQL in terms of other available databases, 

Yeah.  I've recommended it to a number of people who can't wait for our Win32 

> MySQL is also Open Source - you may not like the fact
> that you have to pay for it if you use it in commercial apps, but it is
> Open Source.

MySQL is Open Source *released*, true, but it's not Open Source developed.  
All code for MySQL goes through MySQL AB employees.   Corporate ownership of 
OSS projects is an established model ... Eclipse,, Sendmail, 
etc. share this model with MySQL ... but it *does* make them significantly 
different from us.

As a Firebird user, you should know the danger of corporate ownership, after 
Borland "yanked back" the trademark, web resources, and their developers from 
the project.   MySQL AB could do the same thing, and unlike Firebird I'm not 
sure a fork of MySQL, under a different name, would survive.  Frankly, I'm 
surprised that Firebird did and it's a testament to that project's user 
community that it's still here.   People may pooh-pooh this warning, but I 
feel that the LGPL-->GPL fiasco with the MySQL libraries shows that MySQL AB, 
as any company would, is willing to put their financial advatage over the 
survival of their OSS project.

Such a "take-back" is not possible with PostgreSQL as nobody "owns" the 
postgresql code, and what IP ownership exists is distributed among the core 
team and contributors.

> There are a few (perhaps not as many as several) vendors who support
> Firebird.

Yah.  More should.  Do you know anybody who does Firebird web hosting?

> Oh dear - you most certainly *_can_* use Firebird for free in commerical
> apps.

Good.  Can you explain the Firebird license to me?  I want to know it in case 
I have a project that calls for Firebird ....

> It's a bit unfair to point at M$ here - locking and versioning each have
> their pros and cons.

Sure.  But we feel that versioning is better.   As a professional MSSQL admin, 
I strongly feel that versioning is much better than locking -- insoluable 
deadlocks anyone?.   Since we feel it's the better approach, why shouldn't we 
trumpet it?  The proponents of "transaction-spooling" databases are certainly 
happy to champion their model.

> In Firebird IIRC, you can write dll's or so's in any language you like,
> and use these as user defined functions.

Also cool.

> Here I really *_really_* have to object. The Firebird community has an
> excellent Community spirit, where those who contribute to the engine
> also help out end users.

Good.  I may need it someday.

> Again, this is misleading to say the least. Firebird is a fork of
> Borland's Interbase, which dates from 1981, so Firebird already has the
> keys to the house (21) whereas PostgreSQL has yet to have its first
> legal drink (18).

Touche' !

Seriously, that point was to point out the durability of PostgreSQL *as an 
open source project*.   One of the big questions I get from companies is "how 
do I know that the PostgreSQL Project will be around in 3 years?"   (my first 
answer is, "How do you know that MSSQL server will be around in 3 years? MS 
has killed projects before, and MSSQL is a money-loser ...") 

But your point shows that we need to have 2 columns .... "age of software" and 
"age of OSS project".  For that matter, MySQL the software is about 2 years 
older than MySQL-GPL.

Josh Berkus
Aglio Database Solutions
San Francisco

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