Daily Archives: December 18, 2006

Apache/APR/MySQL packaging

My attention has just been drawn to Debian bugs 395959/403541 re: packaging the MySQL driver in apr-util. This is a legal problem of meeting the terms of all licenses involved.

That’s bad, because I believe packagers such as Debian are precisely the people best placed to make this integration available to end-users. Speaking as a key holder of the intellectual property in question, maybe I can help. I just posted an entry to the Debian bug tracker, but I’m not sure how that works. So I’ll blog it here for the record.


Joachim has just drawn my attention to this report.

I am the original developer of the MySQL driver, and it was originally my decision to license it under the GPL. I’m also director of WebThing, and a member of the Apache Software Foundation (though not, in this message, speaking in an official capacity).

I’m not dogmatic about the licensing, and I’d be happy for it to change if it helps, subject to the constraints of the other licenses involved. Originally I’d have been more dogmatic about it, because apr_dbd_mysql released under the Apache license seems to risk undermining MySQL’s GPL rights, and I didn’t want to be responsible for that. However, MySQL AB has made it clear that they are happy to live with that: indeed, they explicitly name APR and the Apache license at http://www.mysql.com/company/legal/licensing/foss-exception.html

So the sticking point is no longer the GPL, but rather ASF policy, which does not permit us to distribute anything that would impose restrictions on our users, over and above those in the Apache License. The ASF takes the view that to take advantage of MySQL’s exception risks leaving our users in limbo. That clearly doesn’t apply to Debian: your primary license is after all the GPL.

A quick google reveals that some Linux distros have apr_dbd_mysql as a separate (RPM) package, and have presumably built apr-util to enable dynamic loading of a DBD driver. This seems to me an excellent solution.

I hope Debian will see a way to make this available for your users. If I can help, please ask.

midwinter birdsong

I’ve never learned to distinguish one birdsong from another. But in the darkness of winter, a tuneful bird can be very noticeable. Especially on a Sunday night, when we’re relatively free of noise pollution.

I have a vivid recollection of midwinter birdsong from a few years ago. I’d been to a new years bash in Saltash, and was cycling back home through the leafier suburbs of Plymouth at about 2 a.m, when I heard several birds, which I took to be nightingales from the tunefulness and time of day. But when I mentioned it, it was suggested they could’ve been blackbirds, confused by the streetlights into nighttime song.

Yesterday (Sunday) just after dusk in Tavistock I heard the same bird, in strange conjunction with the harsh cry of the raven (or is it just a crow?) that is utterly characteristic of English winter. And as I write, I can still hear – intermittently – the nightingale (or is it blackbird?) in the distance.

Alas, I expect it’ll be a while before we get such another quiet night that I can hear birdsong around here.