Saturday, 22 February 2014

Is Drizzle dead?

Yesterday someone opened a Launchpad question asking "is Drizzle dead?".  I have answered that question on Launchpad but wanted to blog about it to give a bit of background context.

As I am sure most of the people who read this know, Drizzle is an Open Source database which was originally forked from the alpha version of MySQL 6.0.  At the time it was an extremely radical approach to Open Source development, many features were stripped out and re-written as plugins to turn it into a micro-kernel style architecture.  Every merge request was automatically throughly tested on several platforms for regressions, memory leaks and even positive/negative performance changes.

In fact Drizzle has influenced many Open Source projects today.  Openstack's Continuous Integration was born from the advanced testing we did on Drizzle.  MariaDB's Java connector was originally based on Drizzle's Java connector.  Even MySQL itself picked up a few things from it.

Development of Drizzle started off as a "What if?" R&D project at Sun Microsystem spearheaded by Brian Aker.  Once Oracle acquired Sun Microsystem a new corporate sponsor was found for Drizzle, Rackspace.

Rackspace hired all the core developers (and that is the point where I joined) and development progressed through to the first GA release of Drizzle.  Unfortunately Rackspace decided to no longer sponsor the development of Drizzle and we had to disband.  I've heard many reasons for this decision, I don't want to reflect on it, I just want to thank Rackspace for that time.

Where are we now?  Of the core team whilst I was at Rackspace:

So, back to the core question: "Is Drizzle dead?".  The core team all work long hours in our respective jobs to make some awesome Open Source products and in what little spare time we have we all work on many Open Source projects.  Unfortunately splitting our time to work on Drizzle is hard, so the pace has dramatically slowed.  But it isn't dead.  We have been part of Google Summer of Code, we still get commits in from all over the place and Drizzle is still part of the SPI.

Having said this, Drizzle no longer has a corporate sponsor.  Whilst Drizzle can live and go on without one, it is unlikely to thrive without one.

Another thing that is frequently asked is: "What happened to the docs and wiki?".  Drizzle being a cloud databases had all of its development and public documentation servers hosted in the cloud.  Unfortunately the kill switch was accidentally hit prematurely on the cloud account used.  This means we not only lost the servers but the storage space being used for backups.  This also affected other Open Source projects such as Gearman.  The old wiki is dead, we cannot recover that content.  The docs were auto-generated from the reStructuredText documentation in the source.  It was just automatically compiled and rendered for easy reading.

What I would personally like to see is the docs going to Read The Docs automatically (there is an attempt to do this, but it is currently failing to build) and the main site moved to DokuWiki similar to the new Gearman site.

As for Drizzle itself...  It was in my opinion pretty much exactly what an Open Source project should be and indeed was developing into what I think an Open Source database should be.  It just needs a little sponsorship and a core team that are paid to develop it and mentor others who wish to contribute.  Given that it was designed from the ground-up to be a multi-tenant in-cloud database (perfect for a DBaaS) I suspect that could still happen, especially now projects like Docker are emerging for it to sit on.


  1. So I'd say "not yet dead, but retired" (I am not trying to be sarcastic, but that looks reality to me).

    1. I wouldn't go that far. R&D is still going into it and lessons are still being learnt from it. But it is not as actively developed as it once was or should be.

  2. The docs are not lost yet. I found a copy of the wiki on and I have recovered a mysqldump of the wordpress7, and am right now regrinding it all into Jekyll format. They will reappear on a new hosted on GitHub, very soon.


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