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MySQL Embracing Microsoft Open Source Project

Open source database server company MySQL's next production release of its open source MySQL database server will be sporting a new Windows installer, one partially built with an open source project courtesy of Microsoft .

The WiX (Windows Installer XML) toolset that MySQL is using is Microsoft's first official open source project and is freely available via the SourceForge open source repository.

The upcoming 4.1 release of the MySQL Database Server includes Windows installer files (file extension MSI) as part of a revamped and improved Windows installer for the application. According to Matt Wagner, production engineer for MySQL AB, the group considered a number of applications for the 4.1 Windows installer feature on the MySQL database server. They included InstallShield X, WISE, and ZeroG's InstallAnywhere.

"But what we realized that we only needed the graphical designer part of these tools to produce the prototype MSI file," Wagner told internetnews.com.

"For this 'design' part, we chose InstallShield X simply because our developers were familiar with it and sure that it could do the job we needed."

Beyond the design needs, he said Microsoft's WiX fulfilled a particular role in the installer development process. "Using WiX then enabled us to convert the MSI into XML [plain text]," Wagner explained. "Having the installer files in XML allows us to have greater control over the installer, and to store the XML file in our SCM, Bitkeeper."

"The WiX tools allowed us to easily integrate the packaging into our Cygwin Windows build environment, a god-send for a mainly 'UNIX shop'," he said.

MySQL is using Microsoft's WiX without the need for any official interaction or agreement, financial or otherwise with Microsoft. Wagner told internetnews.com that MySQL has no official contacts within Microsoft (concerning the use of WiX).

"We are simply using it in 'good faith' as is customary in Open Source," Wagner said.

WiX is part of Microsoft's shared source initiative and is licensed under the CPL license, which makes the application freely available to download and use. According to Wagner, MySQL does not have any concerns about the compatibility of the GPL version of MySQL with the CPL License under which Microsoft makes WiX available.

"The CPL was approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) in May 2001. It is 'open source compatible'. It governs the use of the WiX tools," Wagner said. "We are not distributing the WiX tools, we are distributing the resulting MSI files. As such, there is nothing to worry about."

Microsoft's team leader on the WiX project, Rob Mensching, said he is pleased about the project's new user. "I have a lot of respect for the MySQL team," Mensching wrote in a blog post. "They always seemed to be smart about building what their customers needed then added necessary features over time. I can't tell you how happy I am that the MySQL team picked the Windows Installer XML toolset."

Since annointing WiX as Microsoft's first "official" project on the SourceForge open source repository in May, Microsoft has added two additional projects, WTL (Windows Template Library), and FlexWiki.

MySQL Database Server 4.1 is expected to be available for download as a production-ready version of MySQL 4.1 in the next month.