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Thread: MySQL Dataflex Driver + Licensing

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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Miami, Florida U.S.A.

    Default Re: MySQL Dataflex Driver + Licensing


    Licensing open source databases and use of their free versions can be a complicated subject as this thread demonstrates. We’ve looked into it before and found no issues but, in the presence of your direct question, we decided to dig deeper and publish some references and background specific to using the free MySQL Community Edition and MariaDB versions with DataFlex. “Dig deeper” does not make us licensing attorneys so everything written here is layman’s commentary and, as is the case with all software licensing matters, the developer or user is responsible for compliance in their application packaging or usage circumstances according to a specific product’s license agreement.

    To move toward an answer to your question, it is important to make a distinction between free open source databases and other software applications that use the databases.

    The databases….
    Both MySQL Community Edition and MariaDB databases offer free, open source licenses under the “Gnu General Public License version 2” or “GPLv2”. When you read the GPLv2 (you did, right?) you will see the following:

    Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the Program (independent of having been made by running the Program)

    For the purposes of your potential use of one of the free, open source, GPLv2 licensed databases, the key phrase is: “The act of running the Program is not restricted”. Keep reading and you will also see that those that modify, distribute, or embed the GPL2 licensed products have specific obligations.

    Other application software…
    DataFlex, WordPress, the vBulletin application that runs these forums and thousands of other applications are all other software applications that can run on MySQL or MariaDB.

    Since Data Access Worldwide does not copy, distribute, or modify the MySQL or MariaDB databases, we do not have open source, GPL-related obligations. We leave it to our customers to acquire and install their database of choice whether open source or commercial versions and use them according to applicable licenses.

    How is the “DAC MySQL connectivity driver licensed”?
    DataFlex applications connect to MySQL and MariaDB, Amazon Aurora and others including PostgreSQL, Oracle, Access and more via our ODBC driver (aka Connectivity Kit) and a “Database Specific ODBC Driver” for each target database or data source. See this blog for more about the structure and components that make up ODBC. While it has been specifically optimized for MySQL, MariaDB, and AWS’ Aurora, our ODBC driver does not incorporate any GPLv2 licensed code from the products to which it connects. Accordingly, we are not obligated to publish the DataFlex ODBC driver’s code as open source.

    With the above as background, it is our layman’s view that DataFlex mobile, web or Windows applications using our ODBC driver can be used with free versions of both MySQL and MariaDB as long as a condition implemented by a developer or user that triggers a commercial license requirement, such as embedding the database in a packaged application, does not occur.

    We recently queried both Oracle (MySQL) and MariaDB on this subject to get their input. We asked them:
    Is there any license restriction with respect to using applications created with non-open-source tools like DataFlex or report writers with an installation of the free (MariaDB or MySQL Community Server)? The expected read/write access to the database would be via ODBC. Data Access does not embed or otherwise deliver the database servers that we support via connectivity. Database choice, installation and support is up to our developers and their customers.

    After 3 email exchanges with Oracle, they have yet to respond with anything definitive. The MariaDB rep was quite clear in his written response to the above question:
    There are no licensing restrictions that would prohibit your customers from connecting to MariaDB via DataFlex. The only scenario where there would be a restriction would be if MariaDB were embedded in the solution (like an OEM or SaaS offering). Since your end users are responsible for connecting the DB, the OEM stipulation does not apply.

    MariaDB also provides a Licensing FAQ that provides further details. If MariaDB or MySQL are “packaged” or embedded, as noted above, OEM/SaaS licensing with the vendor is required in most cases although SaaS, according to MariaDB, is still somewhat fuzzy. Details of MySQL Embedded/OEM arrangements are discussed here.

    Since the initiative for this post about MySQL is reducing your licensing costs, in addition to compliant use of free open source databases, it's worth mentioning that there are also free, non-open source databases available for use with DataFlex direct drivers: Microsoft SQL Server Express (scroll down to “Express editions”) and IBM DB2 Community Edition. Both SQL Server Express and the DB2 Community Edition have specification constraints (memory, CPU cores, etc.) but they are free and can fill a variety of needs within their constraints. DB2, is much less constrained than SQL Server Express.

    Finally, please note that use of all DataFlex database drivers (aka “Connectivity Kits”), Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2 and ODBC, are provided as a single incremental license entitlement for WebApp Server or user counted Windows Client deployments. With DataFlex, you pay one simple fee for a given deployment's connectivity and gain entitlement to use any or all of our drivers concurrently.
    Last edited by Chip Casanave; 19-May-2020 at 03:26 PM. Reason: Correct typo

    Chip Casanave
    Data Access Worldwide - Miami, FL USA
    Business software for a changing world

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