Does MySQL suck?
May 8, 2000 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Does MySQL suck? That isn't actually the topic of a thread at the OpenACS project site... but everyone sure *thinks* it is. :-) OpenACS is a project to port the ArsDigita Community System off of Oracle onto PostgreSQL (of which, BTW, v7.0 ships this week). If this is your cuppa, check it out. [via /.]
posted by baylink (8 comments total)
We were just discussing this on the evolt mailing list, here's a couple things I said about it(reposted):

Think they're right on the money with all of those points.. My favorite
is the one about *TABLE* level locking, pathetic is right on the money
when describing that 'feature'.

Also the lack of a failover system like one from Oracle(Oracle Parallel
Server) is also of interest.

I'm not saying that MySQL isn't a good product, becuase it is in the
right situation. But anyone running an ecommerce type site can't live
without the features of a hardcore RDBMS like Oracle that the paper
posted by djc at 1:48 PM on May 8, 2000

I've seen Philip Greenspun talk, and when an audience member asked him about open source db projects like MySQL and PostgreSQL, the responses were something to the effect of:

MySQL - "not a real database, next question"

PostgreSQL - "It seems like they're up to about Oracle 7.something in terms of features, if they can coordinate all the developers, they could have the full Oracle 8.x feature set done in six months-year. Then, I'd consider using it."
posted by mathowie at 2:01 PM on May 8, 2000

To my mind Oracle has a limited niche just like MySQL does. (I've only actually used Oracle and MySQL, so I'll just talk about those)

One of the nice things about MySQL is that the learning curve is very shallow. So you don't have to be a DBA to use it. You don't have to learn PL/SQL. If newbie to web design wants to do some cool things on the Internet with a database, MySQL will get you there very quickly.

Maybe the wizards who use the big guns find that lame, but I think it kicks ass. Why do we have to insist people use a pile driver to crack walnuts? Sure big/busy websites with mission critical database queries will be happier with Oracle. But that's a small market compared to the millions of small businesses and individuals who just need a website.

Are those folks just SOL? Do you really want them to pay for an Oracle license? And that's not the only cost. Even marginal programmers can learn to get nice things done with MySQL. Oracle isn't like that (yes, I've used both). Doing your website with Oracle costs A LOT more than doing it with MySQL. The cost difference is trivial to a fortune 500 business, but it would kill a struggling company that just wants to get on the web.

Where I pound keys, if I tell the client they'll need to a few grand more to have this type of integrity, they'd go somewhere else. MySQL is adequate for 95% of the sites out there. It's cheaper to buy (free), but it's also cheaper to develop.

I want the Web to be all over the place and I want the cost of entry to be low. MySQL makes that happen. Oracle is a barrier to entry.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:53 PM on May 8, 2000

MySQL and Oracle appear to be extreme ends of the spectrum. There are a lot of in-between products (Sybase, Postgres, MS SQL, etc.) that may not have the power or reliability of Oracle, but do have some of the features that MySQL lacks. I might use MySQL for some things, but there's no way I'd trust financial transactions to a "database" without transaction processing.
posted by harmful at 3:09 PM on May 8, 2000

Y6? Did you *read* the whole thread? Yes, I know it's long, but...

> Why do we have to insist people use a pile driver to crack walnuts?

No one *was* insisting that.

What was being insisted was that people advocating nutcrackers make it *perfectly* *clear* to people who might need to drive piles that their bridges would collapse if they used what was, in fact, a nutcracker... since the people who make the nutcracker don't want to admit you can't build foundations with it.

A large part of the problem here is that the reason DBA's *make* 90 grand a year is because they've gond through a lot of training to be able to distinguish building buildings from cracking nuts. When people who are 99.44% cluefree tell them "oh, but it's ok; I know what I'm doing", what reaction do you *expect* them to have?
posted by baylink at 3:13 PM on May 8, 2000

I read about half way through when it first got posted on Slashdot. I got very bored with the endless irvory-tower bitch fest. The thing I like about MySQL is that it is perfectly suited for the 5-20K projects I end up working on. I'm sure that there are plenty of people here who spend all their time working on 100-250K projects that need a serious database like Oracle. Good for them.

But I don't see these folks saying "Gee, for small projects, MySQL sure is nice." I hear them saying, "MySQL? What the hell for? It's not even a database."

MySQL is a GREAT enrty level database. Period.

"DBA's *make* 90 grand a year ...... distinguish building buildings from cracking nuts."

So let me crack nuts. You go build your damn building.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:34 PM on May 8, 2000

As long as you actually are cracking nuts, no problem. TcX, however, appear to be telling people that cracking nuts is not the limit of their product's capabilities, and *that* is the issue here.

How many times do I have to say that?
posted by baylink at 7:36 PM on May 8, 2000

The whole debate centres around the use you need to make of your database. If you just want to hold relatively small amounts of data, and replication, scalability and row level locking are not important then MySQL is adequate. But what the article (quite rightly IMO) says is that MySQL is *not* a full featured database, yet it is being marketed as such and *that* is what the article is trying to point out - simply that it shouldn't be relied upon for enterprise operations where availability and robustness under stress are required. Every software project has to balance quality and cost considerations, the article simply tries to warn those poeple for whom a full featured database is required from believing the marketing hype about MySQL, not that it is inherently a bad product.
posted by Markb at 2:49 AM on May 9, 2000

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