Taking this even further off-topic from code4lib (oh, hey, Archimedes,
an institutional repository developed by Université Laval up here in
Canada, ran on Apache Derby - whew, back on topic briefly!):

On Mon, 2009-04-20 at 12:49 -0400, Jonathan Rochkind wrote:
> Dan Scott wrote:
> >
> > In the context of the Oracle-Sun and MySQL/OpenOffice/yada yada parent
> > thread, Derby demonstrates that a software project can 1) go from
> > proprietary to open source, 2) be contributed to by (in some ways)
> > direct competitors, and once it is open source 3) lose commercial
> > support from one company but gain it from another, and 4) survive for
> > whoever depends on it and wants to continue using it regardless of what
> > commercial entities may do.
> >
> >   
> It also shows the dangers of this to the user community though, since by 
> your description Informix ended up forked into Derby and JavaDB, with 
> the commercial support being for JavaDB, but the open source development 
> taking place in Derby, and the open source development being kind of 
> stunted too.  A situation which is not great for the users.

Naw, no forks, and apologies if I represented it that way. JavaDB and
IBM Cloudscape were just cuts of Apache Derby from the apache.org
project that people for which people and companies could purchase
honest-to-goodness support. It's a standard business model; much like
multiple commercial companies exist that can offer support for Apache
Solr. Nobody lost or has lost in the Derby community so far simply
because some companies found a business opportunity in offering support
and packaging.

Mind you, there's nothing in the Apache 2 license that forces companies
or indviduals to contribute modifications back to the mother project. It
just didn't / doesn't make business sense to invest that amount of
effort to maintain the fork. It's enough work trying to build a set of
regression tests for one project without having to worry about forks.

> Still, it could have been worse. To make it better would take (or have 
> taken) concerted effort from the user community -- which probably would 
> have happened if Postgres and MySQL didn't exist, making an open source 
> Derby more important for more people.

I, uh, don't know about that; its sweet spot really is as an embedded
database, although it's okay as a server for single-disk partition
databases for applications that use only JDBC to connect to it. Which
makes it a pretty niche database, in comparison to PostgreSQL and MySQL.

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