The MySQL Community version is different in theory from the Enterprise version in relation to the following points:
0) It’s free
1) It has community patches
2) It is released less often
3) It is tested less strictly
In reality, the first two differences are not applicable — the binaries and source code for Enterprise can be freely and legally downloaded at http://mirror.provenscaling.com/mysql/enterprise/. The process for adding community patches to the MySQL source code has not been changed sufficiently to be able to actually add community patches and encourage more community development.
I understand that MySQL (and now Sun) needs to make money. I also understand that development takes a lot of effort, and seeing an ROI is important. The Community/Enterprise split was designed to have tradeoffs on both sides. However, currently there is no benefit to running the Community version.
While I would love to magically make community contributions easy to put into a Community version of MySQL, logistically that’s not possible right now. I do have a solution that is possible right now, that takes very few additional resources, and is something I think will be acceptable to the MySQL community and to Sun — assuming the MySQL executives can admit that the Community version has not been working out.
I propose to make the Community release an older version of an Enterprise release. In this way, Enterprise users still get value in having bugs fixed and features added first, and Community users can choose to upgrade if they want the latest features. There is very little overhead in having Community releases, with no overhead in having to manage two trees/branches/whatever from both a code and build standpoint. Maintaining the promise of immediate security releases, 4 code releases per year and 2 binary releases per year becomes trivial.
The question is, of course, how far back the Community version should go. And should there be a delay (ie, release the January Enterprise version as the June Community version) or not?
I recommend that security releases be immediate (as they currently are) and for all other releases there should be a delay of at least 6 months, perhaps 1 year. Certainly that’s enough of an incentive to get customers to upgrade without having folks feel like the Community ersion is crippleware.
What do folks think of this as a solution to the Enterprise/Community split dilemma?