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23 July 2008, 14:29

Drizzle, a MySQL fork for web applications

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MySQL employees have announced a fork of the open source MySQL database, named "Drizzle", that focuses on what they see as the essential features for an online database. In his blog, Brian Aker, MySQL's director of architecture at Sun, suggests web applications, databases without integrated business processes, cloud environments and multi-core architectures as potential applications for this trimmed down version of MySQL server.

Drizzle will omit many of the features that have been added as a result of pressure from business MySQL users, such as stored procedures, triggers, prepared statements and views. The query cache, which speeds up execution of repeated identical SQL queries, will also be removed. Field types have also been simplified. The plan is not for full compatibility with MySQL, but it is possible that these functions may be reintroduced in the future. According to Aker, Drizzle will be run as a genuine open source project, outside Sun Microsystems, with the code licenced under GPL2. The developers plan to use open source libraries wherever possible with the transactional InnoDB being used as the underlying database engine.

The Drizzle project, despite having a number of Sun employees within its development team, is being developed outside of Sun and MySQL AB. According to Michael Widenus, founder and CTO of MySQL AB, the project has been initiated with the full support of Sun's upper management, "Brian has been working on Drizzle with the blessing and encouragement from Sun's upper management. We are finding Sun to be open and encouraging of innovation, this has been a good aspect of the acquisition."

MySQL 5.0 was released in 2005 and has been stuck at that version number since. The development team has been working on its successor, 5.1, for two and a half years, but it remains unreleased as it is still beset by numerous problems. Head developer Monty Widenius recently asked for assistance from MySQL users with bug hunting. Development of MySQL 6.0 using an internally developed transactional storage engine named Falcon has been taking place in parallel with work on 5.1 since the middle of last year. However, the chief architect for Falcon, Jim Starkey has recently left the project.

A production-ready version of Drizzle is not yet available. Interested users can download the code from Launchpad. Brian Aker is joined on the development team by, among others, Zak Greant, Monty Taylor and Jay Pipes. The project is named Drizzle as drizzle is the "normal form of rain" in Aker's home town of Seattle and the idea was a "rainy day project".


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