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Monty Widenius talks about why he left Sun Microsystems

By   |  February 10, 2009

Earlier this week Monty Widenius, original developer of the MySQL database, announced that he was leaving Sun Microsystems, the current owner of MySQL. Widenius originally announced his intention to leave Sun last year following a dispute with the company over the MySQL 5.1 release. Schalk Neethling of Open Source Release Feed spoke to Widenius and asked him what exactly happened.

Please give us a little background on who Michael Widenius is.

My friends call me Monty. I have some talents in writing working C code and know a little bit about databases. Some years ago (1994) I put these talents to some use and wrote the MySQL database on top of my old database project that I started in 1982. David Axmark (the second founder of MySQL) and I released it ‘open source like’ (this was before open source) in 1995 because we wanted do some good and we thought that ‘at least we wouldn’t get less business by doing this’. The end result did way exceed our expectations.

There has been a lot of press coverage about the problems at Sun since the acquisition of MySQL. What finally prompted you to decide the time has come to leave Sun and, in so doing, MySQL behind?

I tried to explain it in relatively good detail on my blog at

The short story is that the MySQL development organization was not functioning well under its capacity and we where mistreating and destroying our community. I wanted to help Sun fix this but was told to wait and wait and wait In the end I gave up waiting.

The other side of the coin was that some people in MySQL management made my life hell; They didn’t let me participate in MySQL development, didn’t give me resources in doing Maria development and did a lot of backstabbing to make my life difficult.

This in combination with the fact that Sun never offered me any work contract that would in any way recognize what I had done for MySQL got me to realize that Sun is not the place for me, after all.

Will you still be involved with MySQL in any way?

Yes, in many ways. You can read all about this at

In short, I will concentrate on three things: Finishing the Maria storage engine. Work with the community to create a community developed branch of MySQL. Network with Sun and other MySQL companies to better fulfill the needs of MySQL customers and the MySQL community.

I read about Monty Program Ab on your blog. Can you tell us a little more about Monty Program Ab and the your goals?

The above answer kind of already answered that.

As a final question, do you have any advice for young up and coming folks in the open source industry who is just starting out on their first open source project or venture?

Choose the right license. Find a business model that allows you to work full time on your product. Understand that not all business is made for getting venture capital and grow. Most businesses are made by small, quite profitable service companies that creates a good living for their workers. Study other open source projects to understand how the create a working community. If you don’t understand it, get in contact with an open source advocate to explain how the communities works. This is something you need to get right from the start! Remember that if you are working in the open source space, everything is about trust. You need to be as open as you can about everything you do and *never* betray the trust of your customers or users.

This interview was first published on Open Source Release Feed and is re-published here with permission.



4 Responses to “Monty Widenius talks about why he left Sun Microsystems”

  1. sims
    February 11th, 2009 @ 3:00 am

    “Remember that if you are working in the open source space, everything is about trust. You need to be as open as you can about everything you do and *never* betray the trust of your customers or users.”

    I’ve been thinking that might be a good idea for a long long time, but this is the first time I’ve seen it in print. Glad to know my suspicions are on track.

  2. Arthur Marsh
    February 11th, 2009 @ 4:32 pm

    A few typos:

    “under it’s capacity and we where mistreating”

    should be

    “under its capacity and we were mistreating”


    “not all bussiness is made”

    should be

    “not all business is made”

  3. Alastair Otter
    February 11th, 2009 @ 8:09 pm

    @ Arthur Marsh
    Thanks for those. Updated.

  4. Mega-corporações sempre serão… bem, mega-corporações « asf@web
    February 21st, 2009 @ 10:18 pm

    […] Monty Widenius talks about why he left Sun Microsystems, tectonic Monty Widenius, pai do MySQL explica porque perdeu a paciência e decidiu se afastar da Sun Microsystems. […]

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