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GNU is Not Unix

Borland's Interbase Open-Sourced 152

A slew of people have written in with confirmation that the beta version of Borland's Interbase will be Open Source. This comes on the heels of rampant speculation that this move would be forthcoming. Their press release states they expect to release in the first quarter of 2000. One interesting point is that they are not just opening the code for Linux - the Solaris and WinNT versions will be open as well. However, no mention of what license they plan on using, so I'm sure we'll be revisiting this story.
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Borland's Interbase open-sourced

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  • I guess this is the first large, fully open source database for Linux... definatley a Good Thing (tm)! This could encourage many users to switch to Linux, becuase most of the current database apps are pretty limited (MySQL as an example).
  • sounds cool
  • "Inprise Corporation (Nasdaq: INPR) today announced that it is jumping to the forefront of the Linux database market by open-sourcing the beta version of InterBase 6, the new version of its SQL database. InterBase will be released in open-source form for multiple platforms, including Linux, Windows NT, and Solaris."

    The press release appears to only refer to the beta version of the software. If the license is written in a particular way (ie. not open-source in the sense of the GPL or other similar license), this could exclude the use of code from the InterBase beta in other software. Although InterBase does sound very promising, I can't help but wonder if Inprise is releasing the beta for some other motive; perhaps to improve their software for free and captialize on the current craze with anything that has the word "Linux" in it (aka buzzword compliance). We'll just have to wait and see the precise terms under which Inprise is doing the "open-source" release.
  • Now, if only we could have an anonymous first-post finder, and a 1 gallon drum of anti-matter... :)

    Seriously, I hope Borland go for either the GPL or the BSD licence. We -really- don't need Yet Another Licence, there are enough out there to cover most people's needs.

    I also hope they release the source to some of their earlier products. They've had the binaries for things like Turbo Pascal around for a while, for free download, but it'd give a bit more impetus to whatever Pascallian groups there are amongst the Linux Folk, if the source was made available. It's not like TP 3.0 has much commercial value, now, so it wouldn't cut Borland too deep to do that.

  • by Accipiter ( 8228 ) on Monday January 03, 2000 @11:07AM (#1409653)
    Am I imagining things, or doesn't Microsoft own a heavy chunk of Borland/Inprise? []

    That being the case, what are they doing? And is Microsoft beind it? If not, I can't see them being too happy.

    Speculation back then seemed to say that Inprise/Borland would be hesitant to support/port apps to Linux, when in fact the opposite is showing true. What's going on here?

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    yet another fucking /. call for open sourcing something while refusing to release the latest slashdot source
  • RMS has checked in. Thanks Dick.
  • by Gurlia ( 110988 ) on Monday January 03, 2000 @11:10AM (#1409656)
    Inprise is taking a leadership role in the Open-Source movement by releasing the beta version of InterBase 6 under an open-source license. We are taking this bold step because we believe every Linux distribution needs InterBase.

    LOL... a "leadership role in the Open-Source movement"? Do they even know what that means, I wonder... :-)

    Anyway, jokes aside... I think this is a Very Good Thing. I'd say that Linux needs a lot of database offerings like this. Especially open source offerings that we can work on and improve. Although the Linux version of Oracle is good, its closed-sourced, and AFAIK targeted only for RedHat. (I've had major headaches to make it work for Debian.) An open-source DB would alleviate this headache by allowing easy re-config for a particular distro. But even more importantly, it gives us industrial-quality code to play with. IIRC Interbase used to be quite popular, so there must be some good stuff in there.

    While MySQL is nice, it doesn't quite give enough features (though the speed is... amazing). I've not used postgre before, so I can't judge. But regardless, having a lot of DB options in Linux is a very good thing. Especially in convincing upper management to switch to Linux: a lot of ppl probably know about Interbase and at least non-techies can take comfort in the fact that Interbase is a "commercial-quality" product (though for techies that probably means zit).

    Just my $0.02.

  • I think that would be a different license altogether.
  • by bugger ( 101595 ) on Monday January 03, 2000 @11:16AM (#1409658)
    Microsoft own 10% of preferred stock in Inprise (that totalled USD 25m at the time).

    This stock has no voting rights.

    Inprise has the right to buy the stock back any time during three years from the date the initial agreement was signed.

    That's about the gist of it.

    Read more about it in the SEC statements.
  • Interbase will round out all the features that are missing from every other open-source database. Interbase has: GREAT stored procedures and triggers, fully ANSI 92 compliant, excellent JAVA support, etc, etc.
  • Hello Interbase 6.
  • I agree, a very Good Thing in the sense that there will be an Open Source DB will all the stuff a DB should have (transactions, lots of field times, triggers, SPs, online backup, replication, etc.), and it runs exactly the same (as far as I know) across platforms.

    I wonder what the numerous companies that currently use embedded Interbase databases will do, though? Will it still be appealing? More appealing (less $), or less appealing (not commercial)?
  • One of its most interesting features is that the InterBase server scales all the way down to running on a Windows 95 machine. This is perfect for those who don't have neither the money for Windows NT nor the guts for Unix/Linux. Also, as I recall, the military was big into InterBase before the product was bought by Borland. So there are a lot of legacy
  • It's no longer a huge surprise : lately everyone seems to jump (or step at least) in the Linux boat. The question is : will Microsoft release the code for, say, SQL Server ? This would be really cute. Watch out, Bill may pull such an ace from his sleeve (yeah, right !)
  • by sinator ( 7980 ) on Monday January 03, 2000 @11:24AM (#1409664)
    Normally I'd consider those "Yet Another.." posts trolls, but I think there is something to be said about this.

    The source to Slash hasn't been released in quite a while; it seems slightly fishy that preaching the joys of Open Source gets Slashdot and Andover a lot of money, but the source isn't actually being released. Is this a strategic move for Andover?

    If so, it's pretty stupid. Slashdot functionality has been emulated many times over. My personal favorite is SquishDot, a plug-in for Zope []. I don't see any competitive advantage to not releasing the source. It's not like releasing the source is that much more work for Rob and crew; we know it's being worked on because of improvements in Slashdot itself...

    A lot of people might respond "If you don't like it, leave. You get what you paid for." But this is a web site held by a publicly owned company; we get bombarded by the ads and click through on the banners and generally keep this site funded pretty well. You'd think that

    1. in the face of consumer demand for the source (and yes, we are consumers whose click throughs fund slashdot and andover), and

    2. in the face of the open source ideology that slashdot promulgates, and

    3. in the face of the fact that there is no strategic advantage in delaying the release to Slash because there are so many workalikes

    you'd think that Slash source code would be released.

    That having been said, I don't particularly mind if the source isn't released because Rob et al are taking their sweet time due to programmer-endemic laziness (as opposed to andover policy and other conspiracy ideas ), but it would be nice to hear status reports on the matter at the very least (e.g., "01-03-2000: Did nothing.") :-)

    just an opinion..
  • (all the way down to running on a Windows 95 machine)

    What makes this particularly useful is that when it scales up and down, it really does work exactly the same; it's NOW a situation where there is a "lite" version, "standard", and "enterprise", all of which behaving slighly differently.

  • As far as I know this is the first SQL92 compliant Open Source DATABASE; as MySql and PostgreSQL are not SQL92 (yet) and probably never for MySQL. This is really huge news in my opinion. Although I didn't try Interbase myslef, according to what I have read about it here and there, and particularily in newsgroups, it seems to be a very nice piece of software.
  • What have you been smoking? They already have a Linux version, and have for some time.
  • Uh huh. I found the wording very strange as well. Why does the press release go so out of its way to repeat the word "Beta" over and over? Take this sentence under "About Interbase 6"...

    The beta version of InterBase 6 is a powerful, high-performance SQL database designed for business-critical, mobile computing and Internet-based applications on Linux, Windows NT, Solaris, and UNIX.

    ...what, and the release version won't be? Why would it be necessary to call out the word Beta in the "about" section? It just doesn't read very naturally.

    Very bizarre.


  • It's not so surprising that the Solaris and NT versions are going to be opened up, too -- it's likely that all of the versions have a common codebase with a thin layer of platform-specific code on top.

    If they use a truly open license and just released 'the Linux version,' it would open the door for third parties to fork the code to create their OWN free/open Solaris and Win32 (and Irix and Hurd and MacOS and BeOS) versions of it, competing with the Inprise 'non-open' versions on other platforms.

    Of course, if their license isn't correctly open/free, this is academic, but since they ARE apparently releasing their multi-platform code, it might be reasonable inferred that they plan to use a properly free license and don't want to compete with that.

    We'll see.
  • C'mon guys, seeing some of you get so excited about this stuff makes me embarrassed for you. InterBase is such a dead product, it's not even funny. In fact, just last Tuesday, Inprise confirmed that Bill Karwin, InterBase product manager, Paul Beach, director of business development, and Wayne Ostiguy, manager of technical support, have left the company.

    Yeah, sounds real promising all right...


  • Apparently they disagreed with InterBase being made OpenSource.

    Or not?

    Or am I simply trying to spread as much FUD as you?

    Let Bill Karwin, Paul Beach, Wayne Ostiguy speak up why they left. Everything else is just rumours and FUD.
  • Think Mozilla. It was beta (or pre-alpha as the case may be) when Netscape released it. For Inprise, open sourcing the next version instead of the current version allows then soom room for error should it backfire on them. We may see them rename it in the way Netscape did.
  • All the developers left...maybe that is why they open sourced it.
  • by Ronin Developer ( 67677 ) on Monday January 03, 2000 @11:47AM (#1409677)
    While there are those who will look at the negative aspects of Inprise's action to release Interbase 6 as open source, I am not one.

    Having been an avid IB user since the introduction of Delphi with various versions running on my hardware (IB 5.6 on Windows, 4.02G on Linux) I can hardly wait for 6.0. Delphi and IB for Linux make an awesome team with transactions, isolation, and a rich stored procedure language.

    Interbase 6.0 was demonstrated at the Borland/Inprise conference this year. During one of the sessions, a fellow developer asked the pointed question of releasing Local Interbase for free or the creation of a run-time only engine to aid in the deployment of applications developed using Interbase. He cited M$ and Sybase's moves to do such things. They said they would look into it but didn't thing such a move was feasible. IB 6.0 never made it out the door (but it did look slick with that nice GUI admin tool).

    But, we also heard Dale Fuller stating that the Interbase team had about six months to turn the corner and that Borland was fully dedicated to Linux. Looks to me like they are positioning themselves quite nicesly.

    I just hope that the source will compile with egcs (or at least decent RPMs will be available).

  • ... the rest of us take over their product and continue to enhance and improve it in true OpenSource fashion.

    Maybe they left coz they didn't like the idea of the old paradigm of computer software development being replaced by a new one that allows for a greater product and better tools for everyone?

  • I wonder what is more important: the 'Open Source' aspect of the database or the actual PORT of the database to linux? OpenSource means also 'it's for free!!', but for an organisation who wants to have a huge reliable database system, it's not important if costs $5000,- or $0.0. So, why are people ALL OF A SUDDEN interested in a good product when it comes Open Source AND/OR free? Sure, what's free is nice to have, but what's GOOD and SOLID is also nice to have, allthough it might cost a little money. Not very much people did that, according to the financial figures of Inprise. And that's a shame.

    For Inprise I can understand they open up the source because they get the attention of the people who just want to use free software and/or software that is open sourced and other people who just watch every move of a company on the path of 'Open Source' or 'Linux'. It doesn't bring them any money, which is badly needed over there due to their bad financial situation. I truely hope it will give insight in how a complex system as Interbase works, but I doubt the actual advantage of the release of the sourcecode.

    Call me a sceptic, IMHO it's not allways right to open up the sourcecode, especially if you are near the edge of death as inprise is

  • Have a look at,1410,2010 8,00.html

    for the best summary of information about Kylix so far.

    Inprise/Borland are getting strong into Linux - see

    So that's what they are doing.
  • Ok. I give up. Why was this posted under the "GNU" category? Have they announced that they're going to GPL their code? If so, I missed it. I shouldn't immediately jump to the conclusion that a company opening up their source code would do so via the GPL. Maybe so, maybe not. But not an automatic.

    If I missed the announcement, please tell me.

  • Actually, MySQL is one of the best databases out there; and remember, this is old database code. On a similar note, MySQL is not actually open source, it's a very-close-but-not-quite-with-an-old-version-GPLd database. Check out PostgresQL [], under a BSD-ish license.
  • Yeah, but don't forget, TP was faster, better, and cheaper than any of it's competitors. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the optimizing technology and dirty little hacks from TP are still being used today.

    I do agree that open sourcing TP would be good, but they are a profit-driven company. If open-sourcing TP would give away too many currently used trade secrets, it's less likely to happen.
  • No, the point is just that rather than throwing something out, they open it up on the way out the door. So what? Would you rather it were completely lost to the world? (And I'm not even clear that that's what's happening here, but that does seem to be what you were grinching over, so that's what I'm addressing.)

    Kindly wipe that Stallmanesque `g' from the name of Mr. Torvald's kernel. It's insulting.

    One more thing: open sourcing something does not mean `giving it to Linux'. It means giving it to the whole wide world! Try not to see everything through Linux-colored glasses. I know it's hard, but please, for everyone's sake, do please try.

  • Since SQL Server was based totally on Sybase, I highly doubt they could open-source it even if they wanted to. One of the biggest problems for companies like Borland trying to open-source some of their flagship products is cross-licensed technology. They can open-source what they wrote, but not what other people wrote.

    Now, if Sybase was open-sourced...
    Hmm. That would have an interesting effect on SQL Server customers.
  • MySQL is great for a large class of problems, but it is no so great for another large class of problems: those which benefit from major, important database features that it does not have: transactions, stored procs, triggers, etc.
  • I doubt Interbase is obsolete. I bet it's just unsellable. The people probably left either because they refused to work with open source developers or were tired of their company being spun-off, folded-in, lather, rinse, repeat. Interbase as a product can't compete with MS SQL marketing or deployment.

    It is a great value-add to Borland dev-tools. It makes sense to open-source it.

    That's one of the key areas where open-source makes sense. Cool technology will not be killed simply because there is not enough financial incentive to maintain it.
  • Check out Free Pascal [] or GNU Pascal [] or Lazarus [] and see if any of them might work for you.
  • Those winoze lusers are getting more stupid every day. Yet another reason to switch, who wants to be in the same category as this joker.
  • I've been following the threads on the interbase mailings lists, and the thing that really struck me was the lack of true commitment to any tenets of Open Source development or products on the parts of the Inprise management.

    They've stated that they didn't really set out to do this open source. They got forced into it by their own ineptitude.

    Their own public statements are that the whole development management team for Interbase quit last month, that they no longer have the resources to support the product, that they don't feel that this is part of their core business, that they no longer have the technical knowledge of hte product to support it, and therefore they're going to release it Open Source.

    So what the community gets is about 15 years of corporate (read: poor quality) code, with no commitment by Inprise to support it at all. And their statements indicate that they don't plan to, as they don't feel that it's part of their core business. Heck, the rumors that I've heard is that there are sections that nobody currently understands, and that are written in K&R style C. This doesn't bode well for the product.

    I'm all in favor of open source applications, but considering that this seems like a desperation dump (and I wasn't planning on bringing up Mozilla, but.....), and that there seems to be no thought put into how they're going to actually manage it, I'd rather not have this multi-million line-of-code dump clouding the community's mind.


  • Remember, this is not just a Linux release -- Interbase works on Solaris and Windows, among others.
  • Nope, they left because Inprise showed no ability to push IB forward, and because they felt as though they were left in dead-end positions within the organization.

    If your company said that they didn't care about your product anymore, you'd probably quit too.


  • The advantage Inprise will get out of this is marketshare.

    While people are learning or working on open source projects, not working on those big paying projects, they can't afford to pay for the $5000 database. Plus, a lot of people would rather go with an opensource product that they know they can use if they suddenly decide to make their project commercial (even if on a small scale) without having to pay for licensing the database. So people start using IB. Now you've got a large population of developers familiar with IB, and when they start spec-ing out some big paying project, they might very well push for something they're familiar with, as well as something that meets their OSS ethichal tastes and get the project to pay for the support package from Inprise, which puts money in Inprise's pocket.

    Don't be surprised if this is not the last enterprise quality database to be opensourced. Oracle of course is heavily tied to their licensing revenue stream and M$ isn't about to start opening their code, but IBM makes a LOT of money on services already, and could afford to do just this, opening DB2 and selling support and development services while shepharding the further development of DB2 as an OSS project and widespread adoption of DB2 by developers. This would cut the legs out from under both M$ and Oracle, and would be a great strategic move.

    This is similar to the price wars in the hard drive arena, where the prices have gone down so far as to push many of the players to the edge of bankruptcy, including Seagate, while IBM is big enough to not make money in that area.

    Interesting times...
  • by Ledge Kindred ( 82988 ) on Monday January 03, 2000 @12:56PM (#1409701)
    As of now, about 6:00pm EST, there's not a single "Beta" on that press release. It looks like someone did a "Search-and-delete" on the word "beta" and republished the page.

    It sounds, from the wording of the press release and the comments of other users here, rather like they decided they couldn't make Interbase 6 into a commercial product so they're taking whatever they have lying around under the IB6 code tree and going to release it as open source rather than let the product line die. So maybe technically it is "Beta" but since there will never be a "final" they can just as realistically just call it "Interbase 6" as they seem to be doing now.

    It's also interesting that they say "Open Source" but nothing about "free." Not that I am going to complain too much, it's they're code after all, but I wonder if they're going to still make this a commercial product, just one with source code as part of the package. I'd like to see it free, because I'd like to have a "high-end" database I can deploy in situations where MySQL or PostgreSQL just won't cut it but can't afford to spend the trillions of dollars it would cost to put Oracle in place.


  • In my view SUBJ is the question now.

    Really - you should have quite some skills (and commitment) to make *good* contribution to the case. Because, you know, developing DB engine is quite different to multiplying WMs or even writing drivers for some hardware. You have to be really tough to take on that. Are *YOU* ready for this? I'm definitely not.

    But all for all it's good new (better than they could be). I hope it'll become standard - "if it's dead - let it be - at least publish it".

    PS: Now I just gonna wait for Kylix.
  • I may be a Borland fan, but why must you classify that as zealotry? There are those who prefer certain tools such as egcs or VC++ or Borland tools. Why is it that just because a "for profit" company decided to enter a market makes it so bad or "smells like stanated and rotted sh&t to me"?

    Is it because a corporate venture will promote competition for the less powerful databases (or overpriced) databases that already exist?

    Does it scare you that something else may replace the tool you are so comfortable with? Why should it? Did you know that IB was designed originally with Unix in mind? Windows came second.

    Interbase, unlike mySQL (which I do like, BTW), offers several things that mySQL does not.

    First, it offers true transaction support.

    Second, it offers stored procedures.

    Thirdly, it is pretty robust and self-maintaining.

    And, like mySQL, it is available for a multitude of platforms.

    Where it lacks is in raw speed. Yet, with the proper settings, IB can be very fast. It's autocommitting after every update, delete or insert that slows things down. Do it all in a transaction and watch things fly.

    They other disadvantage (hopefully soon to be rectified), is the concurrent user licensing arrangement for IB. We'll have to see just what Open Sourcing will do for that.

    Surely, IB could benefit from the features that exist within other databases such as mySQL. But, IMHO, even the lowly IB 4.0 is already a serious contenter to mySQL.


  • Lazarus is a front-end to Free Pascal.
  • Please stop looking at the world through fiercely over-zealous glasses. "Corporate code" as you call it does not always equate with poor quality code. Not all open source projects are examples of crystal clear coding, either.
  • Who of the three said that? May I have the URL, please?
  • I mean - I can grab a copy of Interbase 5.6 (used to be a commercial product) from 'Net and use it for my devices. Now that Borland has let IB go, will it be legal?

    I mean - can I install a server and, say, 100 clients for free with existing versions of IB (that were commercial)?

    If yes, then it's great news indeed ;-)
  • You haven't been reading very close. I've been following it also and there are at most 6-10 people spreading FUD. Paul Karwin did post a msg that stated he left Inprise and that is what started all the rumours. You and I don't know what happened there but for all we know he quit because he didn't see a future at Inprise with an Open Source project. Borland seems sreally serious about the Linux market. I doubt this was a move of desperation.
  • SQL Server 7 is a complete rewrite and no longer includes Sybase code. Sybase could open-source their old stuff and it wouldn't have any effect on MS.
  • Geez, whatever...
  • I didn't see much information in the release about what kind of "open source" license the software would be released under.

    Sadly, the term "open source" has become so overused that I think it is pretty much meaningless. Even the official open source definition [] is not sufficiently specific to be useful to me.

    So, until we see the specific license, do you really care whether something is "open source"? I don't.

  • I wonder what is more important: the 'Open Source' aspect of the database or the actual PORT of the database to linux?

    The Open Source aspect, of course. Linux is Just Another Operating System. ;-)

    OpenSource means also 'it's for free!!', but for an organisation who wants to have a huge reliable database system, it's not important if costs $5000,- or $0.0. So, why are people ALL OF A SUDDEN interested in a good product when it comes Open Source AND/OR free?

    Because free speech is even more valuable than free beer, and the value of software is related to its expected support lifetime. If you install Open Source software, you know that it will live forever, and all the risk goes away. You can always get support for Open Source software, no matter what happens. You can fix bugs 20 years from now, if you want. That makes Open Source a desirable feature in software, even when you don't notice the $0 pricetag.

    Sure, what's free is nice to have, but what's GOOD and SOLID is also nice to have, allthough it might cost a little money. Not very much people did that, according to the financial figures of Inprise. And that's a shame.

    If you buy the closed source product, it could become orphaned at any time; its lifespan is unknown. No matter how solid it is, there's a chance that you might find a new bug tomorrow, or you might need to run it under a slightly different environment some day. If the vendor folds, you're screwed.

    Inprise writes programs that run under Windows. Every time there's a new Windows release, some software breaks. You really have to be crazy (or extremely faithful -- it's the same thing) to buy Windows applications from any vendor other than Microsoft. At least when you buy Microsoft stuff, you know that they'll try to sell you a new version when their new OS comes out. Any other vendor's product could break, and they go out of business w/out leaving source, your problem will never get fixed.

    It doesn't bring them any money, which is badly needed over there due to their bad financial situation. I truely hope it will give insight in how a complex system as Interbase works, but I doubt the actual advantage of the release of the sourcecode.

    I guess they have some reason for not wanting it to die, even if they're not making money off it. I don't know the real reason either, but a few hypothetical ideas off the top of my head would be:

    • They make other products that integrate with Interbase, and those products are still profitable.
    • They sell service.
    • They want to hurt the sales of other companies that sell closed source databases (e.g. MS).
    • Ego.

  • I am gonna show my ignorance here, but is K&R style C a bad thing? Why? Not OO or what?

    I just got the K&R book for Xmas, I thought it was THE C book to have. Please enlighten (but not flame please) a programming newbie.
  • K&R style means pre-ANSI standard C. There's the old-skool K&R book which defines the original C standard, and then the ANSI C book, also written by K&R I believe. You want to take a look at the cover and see if it says "ANSI" on it. If so, it's the current standard (with function prototypes and in-statement function parameter names), otherwise it's the original book. Still great reading, but not the current thing.

    And you might want to pick up a C++ book as well. Knowing C++, I've found, actually helps you write better C code, as the idioms are better defined.


  • by Zico ( 14255 ) on Monday January 03, 2000 @01:48PM (#1409719)

    Well, I didn't mean that nobody uses it anymore, but more along the lines of there's no longer a market for it. Current users still had to support it in their own company environments, but there was basically no further penetration of the market. As far as the three higher-ups leaving, it was because they saw the product for which they were responsible being killed off.

    After they left, there was a lot of talk in the community that the product would be opensourced, but there was also a lot of talk that it would just be orphaned. Now, for open source advocates, they think it's a wonderful thing, but a lot of people that I know who still actually have to support these environments believe that this is the beginning of the end for any real support from Inprise.

    Like I said, it's embarrassing to see all the cheering over this here -- Inprise isn't making some bold move here, they're just giving away code that they were about to toss into the garbage. For InterBase users, it's like getting a consolation prize ("Well, at least they didn't kill it."), and for the rah rah crowd here, it's like celebrating being handed some refuse that was about to be thrown out (forgetting, of course, that there's a reason why InterBase was on its last legs in the first place, and it wasn't 'cause it was closed source). Yippee.

    Bugger: Who is spreading FUD? Are you denying that those people quit? Are you telling me that InterBase was a thriving product? In the future, please quit tossing the word "FUD" around every time you get your panties in a bunch.

    Jay Vaughan, who says that "the rest of us [will] take over their product and continue to enhance and improve it in true OpenSource fashion": What, you mean like Mozilla? What is it, almost two years late now? For a browser?? Besides, I recall that after the flop of Mozilla, ESR backpedaled and said that he never claimed that his cathedral utopia would work for closed source products being opened up (Which, of course, begs the question of why he goes around claiming credit for the opening of Mozilla, if his CatB fantasy didn't apply to them, but that's a discussion for another day). What is the difference in this case?


  • InterBase is such a dead product, it's not even funny.

    If that's what you think of it, then this announcement should be of particular interest to you, since the open sourcing it would cause it to make the transition from "dead" to immortal. That's quite a big change, don't you think?

  • As I work for a software firm doing non-open-source work, I most certainly agree. I'm not going to slag on my own code, am I? :-)

    But the point that I was trying to make, perhaps not as eloquently as I might have done, is that corporate code usually suffers from some very similar problems: it relies on idioms and dependencies which are not well defined and specified. This is largely as a result of it not having been open to peer review outside the company before. Thus the only people who submit comments are the same people who write it in the first place, and people who know all those underlying, understood dependencies.

    Open-source code, when written from scratch, tends to have fewer of those dependencies and understood-but-not-specified details. When a large enough pool of people works on something, and different people all the time, you have to have these things spelled out or else it will be too difficult to maintain.

    My concern is that Inprise will be dumping code on the world which hasn't been peer reviewed, hasn't been clarified, and hasn't been sufficiently documented. Not that it doesn't do its job well, but that it will be difficult for the open source community to add to.


  • Since when does corporate code does not equate with high quality? If anything they are forced to document their code - because they are paid to do so - the same is not true for most open source projects. It is very tough to get volunteer developers to document their source (since they don't HAVE TO). Also, just because the code is not OO does not mean it's bad - take Oracle for instance - it is 100% C code as well! If anyone can understand the GCC compiler code or Linux kernel code - then the InterBase code will be a walk in the park.
  • I'll ignore the possibility that this is very subtle sarcasm... ;) Go read the LGPL and GPL (and BSD license, for that matter). Which one do you honestly think gives you more freedom?

    The GPL is a restrictive license, and it is intentionally so. It makes life difficult for people writing commercial apps. If that's what you want, fine. But I think Borland would prefer to please as many audiences as possible. Therefore, an LGPL or BSD style license would be a better choice.


  • Borland didn't actually own much of the software that they used to sell; they were essentially reselling software produced by other companies.

    One of the more notable examples of this is Turbo Prolog, which is effectively still being sold by its original producers. Take a look on Google for "Visual Prolog."

    I certainly agree with your comments about "No New License, Please!"

  • Have you ever seen the Oracle Server source code? If not, I strongly urge you not to judge its quality.

    It's one thing to say that a product runs well while being written in pure C code. It's entirely another to say that it's good source code, as a mixture of C++, ANSI C and K&R C.

    As for the statement that corporate programmers always write good comments because they are paid to, I'm pretty sure that isn't a given. For example, a friend who worked at HP told me that his bonus at one time was based in no small part on non-comment-lines-of-code. This indicates to me that comments aren't important to them (and he was working on HP-UX).

    But the thing about the examples that you've indicated, Linux and GCC, is that those were developed by open source developers in public: they weren't released at some mature point in their life. If you take something like the Mozilla source code, when it was released there were significant quality problems that had to be worked through before the project could go forward. That all hinders understanding and forward progress.

    Besides, have you ever read something like Query Optimizer code? Take a look at the postgres code for this section. It's very dense code, very difficult to grok, and almost like black magic. That's the sort of code that database servers are riddled with, and if they're truly legacy sections, it could be very very difficult to understand them and move forward.


  • They're only "Leaders" insofar as they're contributing code that is getting widely used.

    That could ultimately be the case, but the assertion that they can thus "take a leadership role" is pretty funny. In the free software community, you can't take anything; you can only be a leader by giving away more than anybody else. I suspect they'd find that a mite challenging; it seems to me that IBM's AlphaWorks program is a stronger contender for the status...

    The thing that is particularly exciting about InterBase, setting it apart from any of the already-libre options for Linux, is the fact that InterBase was designed as an embedded RDBMS. In the "open source" context, the opening of the code ought to allow the system to be deconstructed into a set of libraries to separate data store from SQL interpreter (to name the most obvious bits) as well as, hopefully, lock manager and transaction manager and probably some other "useful bits." That is very important in that:

    • There are lots of applications that could use an embedded data store. They may not need SQL very badly; if "OpenInterBase" allows dropping off unneeded bits, this can turn into a very low overhead scheme.
    • As an embedded DBMS, InterBase has the two important properties of
      • Not requiring much, if any DBA work.

        This is a pretty major issue at present with other DBMSes like MySQL and PostgreSQL.

      • Putting the database in a few files that should be user-controllable

        ... Which should make it easier for naive users to install and backup their data ...

      It takes some doing to get DBMSes up and running and configured to be usable; InterBase should "lower the bar" on this, which is a very good thing.
  • Yes, open sourcing it is better than killing it. You have no argument from me there. My point is that all this celebration is misplaced. I'm curious if anyone in this discussion was even aware of the departures of those three very key guys before I brought it up.

    I see this celebration as mainly being from open source fanboys who don't know the particulars of this situation, and for the most part don't have any intention of ever hacking on it or even using it. Sure, it's great if you love open source and you don't actually have to support any InterBase installations, but for the people who thought they would continue to be supported by Inprise, do you think they're celebrating? Maybe they will, but do you see why they would have their doubts due to the recent events? Do you think they're thrilled after having seen the most obvious example of closed source software being taken up by the open source community: Mozilla?

    You have to remember that Netscape was a very popular app, especially among those people who couldn't use IE. This guaranteed that Mozilla would have at least some momentum behind it to help get it done, and it's still been a hellacious journey. InterBase, on the other hand, which has never been a popular product, could very well become dependent upon a community whose reaction to the product is less than spectacular. If InterBase is going to depend on a community that isn't in it for money, but rather "do I really feel like coding for this product?" then I think it's going to have some trouble down the road.


  • I think I speak for everyone when I say that no matter what license they use, they should not make up their own, incompatible license. We've had enough of this already.

    Are you listening, Borland?
    "I already have all the latest software."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Even more vexing than the lack of slashdot source is the failure by Andover or Rob to acknowledge the problem. The comments on the download page for the old code haven't changed in a year (yeah, yeah, we'll release it rsn) and none of the many posts questioning Rob's and now Andover's integrity in the matter have received any replies from the powers that be. Most customers don't seem to care though, so it's probably a good businesslike attitude.

  • I think that lots of people are really jumping to conclusions here. First of all, unless anyone here has seen the code, or has an informed understanding of it, I think that they shouldn't be commenting on it's supposed quality.

    Secondly, I think the K&R bit is flamebait. What's wrong with K&R C? Really, the differences between K&R and ansi are not very important. It was not too long ago that most open-source programs were _all_ written with K&R C for portability. By the time I was involved, it was mostly because SunOS came with a K&R C compiler. Looking at gcc, I still see that it contains lots of K&R code.

  • Actually because this article was posted under the GNU topic I assumed (possibly mistakenly) that the source was to be released under the GPL.

    I guess /. doesn't have an icon for generic open software. It does have an omninous if it's open software then it owes a debt to the FSF feel about it.
  • Inprise could not push Interbase too hard to "political" reasons. Many of their products are used widely to interface to non-Inprise database; for example, they make a big deal about Delphi 5's Oracle support, and Oracle even based their Java tool on Inprise JBuilder 2.

    It would be unwise to put their own database too hard, since that would interfere with being database-neutral.

  • But we don't own it. Dbase is now owned/maintained/developed by dBASE Inc. (

    As for whether Interbase itself makes end users hate an application or not... I have my doubts. I've used/written applications which use Interbase and have been happy with the results. At the same time one of the worst applications I was ever forced to use relied on IB. The same could easily be said of other DB formats.
  • I am not a interbase expert -- does this mean that Interbase could be used to create something a la microsft Jet. That is, an easy file-based database format?
  • "Who is spreading FUD?"


    "Are you denying that those people quit?"


    But in contrast to you, I am not claiming to know why they left either. I am not one of the three, have no reliable information as to why the left - do you? As I said: FUD.
  • I just thought of another reason why /. isn't responding to repeated requests to release the slash code. Perhaps the reason is that none of the official types even read these pages. How 'bout it /. anybody home?? I think we should start an email campaign to get Rob to release the code, whatever state it is in, so that we can all get to work on it.
  • Microsoft was almost forced to invest in Borland as a settlement for some lawsuit. I remember reading a quote by a Borland (I REFUSE to call them Inprise) official about how cool it was to get millions of dollars of investment money from your biggest competitor. :-)

    This is a good thing, and nothing to worry about. MSFT might make a bit of money from Borland's success, but they don't have any say in the company's operation.
  • I think it's really difficult for database vendors to compete with the large enterprise databases. Sybase and Informix both have declining market share in favor of Oracle, IBM, and SQL Server, and midrange databases such as Solid and Interbase have the same problems. Solid enraged many users who argued for Solid over other systems such as Oracle, and then were left with egg on their face when Solid said they were no longer interested in small purchasers, and an open-sourced Interbase would stand to gain many of those users.

    It's really too early to tell anything at this point; we haven't seen the code to judge its quality, we don't know if Inprise is orphaning the product or planning to support it, and don't know what licence it'll be under. Mostly this thread is just speculation; we really have to wait for more information before making a final judgement. Still, I'll be looking forward to seeing it...

  • Borland a bunch of Windows whores? Now *that* is funny. The reason they don't sell replacement media for BC++ for OS/2 is because they have no product left on the shelves for BC++ for OS/2. Everyone in the development tool community (including IBM) begged Borland to make a C++ tool for OS/2 so they did, and it sold like.. 10 copies. The sales of the tool were SO abysmal they dumped all OS/2 development from that point on (and they were working on a *lot* of OS/2 R&D at that point in time).

    You want to call Borland on the carpet for something legit, go for it.. I'm always willing to listen, but not with this Anonymous "Borland is a bunch of Wintel whores" crap. It's just trolling and it's counter productive.
  • Looks like the company is desperate in trying to regain some market share in the database market. This is the kind of things we expected and will see more of: Companies which used to ignore any other platforms beside Windows suddenly embrace Linux. Too bad it came from a company that is already half dead...

    Stangely, there isn't any pointer to the actual source from that page! If it is really open source, no string attached, why can't developer download a snapshot of the source from them right then and now? Why the wait till some time in "the first part of 2000..." I think I can smell some fish here.

    Have to give them a small credit in at least trying this though. We just have to wait an see the rest of the story when the source is released.

  • After reading all the stuff here I went to the Inprise newsgroup borland.public.delphi.non-technical and read some comments there. This is the main newsgroup for anything concerning Inprise so don't worry about the Delphi name.

    What I found is most of the posters don't have a clue what Open Source is and think that by open sourcing Interbase Inprise has dropped it completely. It's sad that some people are clueless. They don't understand any ideas concerning Open Source. Most believe that Inprise had a dead product and let it go into the graveyard of Open Source.
  • I've never heard K&R referred to as "old-skool" C, but that's as good a phrase as I've ever heard. Technically there's not too much different from ANSI C; ANSI just has a few syntactical improvements... but it's been around for at least a decade now.

    Saying that something is written in K&R C is like saying it's written in Olde English - not necessarily a bad thing; just if there isn't a more recent "translation" it doesn't bode well for the maintainance of the code.

    ISO C is even closer to ANSI than ANSI is to K&R - basically, well-written ANSI C is ISO C.

    I agree that knowing C++ helps you write better C... but I wouldn't learn C++ if you don't already know C or Java - it's too big a bite to take at once.
  • I've been thinking we need more database options for Linux to be widely used in the commercial world. Good stuff.
  • Both operate as database engines that normally get embedded into applications.

    Both implement databases via one or a very few files.

    I seriously doubt that the formats of the files are simple; the intent surely sounds the same.

  • It's not so surprising that the Solaris and NT versions are going to be opened up, too -- it's likely that all of the versions have a common codebase with a thin layer of platform-specific code on top.

    Having worked at some database companies, I can safely state that the layer is not so thin. Platform specific code in database engines of this complexity often includes interprocess communication (shared memory,...) interfaces, disk driver interfaces (these can include raw device drivers), and the usual keyboard and terminal interfaces amongst others. There is also a database-thread scheduler subsystem and depending on an OS's support (or not) for threads this may not be "thin" for certain platforms. So there will be platform dependent code that is probably not what would commonly be called thin. Transaction management and lock management, logging and recovery management, I/O buffer management, query parsing optimization and caching, SQL interpreter, ... would probably have platform independent implementation. (This is not exhaustive) In addition to the usual relational database susbsystems, Interbase (last I looked) had a very rich versioning system for data. This is also likely to be mostly platform independent (he says, sticking his neck out pontificating on the versioning system he knows very little about).

    Nitin Borwankar.
  • Christopher B. Brown writes:
    "Borland didn't actually own much of the software that they used to sell; they were essentially reselling software produced by other companies."

    Actually, I think they did/do own the code.

    It's just that for products they discontinued, they sold it -- sometimes to third parties (Paradox to Corel, dBase to the newly-formed dBase, Inc), and sometimes back to the original owner they'd bought it from.

    Christian R. Conrad
    MY opinions, not my employer's - Hedengren, Finland.
  • ...that the post you responded to might have been a bit of sarcasm?

    Christian R. Conrad
    MY opinions, not my employer's - Hedengren, Finland.
  • Looking at the rampant negative comments from those who are a) clearly ignorant of the Interbase product, and b) seem to think they have a God-given right to endless free software, it amazes me why any publisher would want to jump into this miasma.

    Since the most vocal of you have made it clear, again and again, that you will never buy software, your comments have little relevance to any commercial operation.

    What amazes me even more, however, is the ignorance of K&R. Is there no one here but me who is over the age of 25? Code written to K&R standards will be a) relatively straightforward, and b) free from the abominable practices prevalent in C++. Would you feel better if it were written to VC++ practice? Then it would truly be non-portable, inscrutable, and buggy.

    Let your brains engage before your keyboards, people. And stop crapping on newcomers to the Open Source "movement." Without new victims, there can be no movement.

    no growth = death
  • After they left, there was a lot of talk in the community that the product would be opensourced, but there was also a lot of talk that it would just be orphaned. Now, for open source advocates, they think it's a wonderful thing, but a lot of people that I know who still actually have to support these environments believe that this is the beginning of the end for any real support from Inprise.

    This is a Good Thing for open source advocates AND people who "actually have to support these environments...." At least it ensures SOME sort of path they can persue for support (be it the InterBase using community, or hacking the code themselves). They may not be the most desireable options for current users, but it is better than just having the code round-filed and the product not supported at all.

    Like I said, it's embarrassing to see all the cheering over this here -- Inprise isn't making some bold move here, they're just giving away code that they were about to toss into the garbage.

    In what way is it embarrasing?? I fail to see how you reach this conclusion. First, there is the old saying "one mans garbage is another mans treasure." Second, having the code available is always a good thing. Maybe it will be 99% useless. Maybe it won't. We won't know till we see the source. Maybe it is well writen, solid code. They just couldn't market it well enough to make headway against the other DB biggies. Know one will know till we get the source. Your bitterness seems rather premature.

    For InterBase users, it's like getting a consolation prize ("Well, at least they didn't kill it."), and for the rah rah crowd here, it's like celebrating being handed some refuse that was about to be thrown out (forgetting, of course, that there's a reason why InterBase was on its last legs in the first place, and it wasn't 'cause it was closed source). Yippee.

    I don't know about you, but I'd take the consolation prize over nothing any day of the week. Face reality. They just couldn't make $$ with it. Tell me what you would do in their situation.

    Jay Vaughan, who says that "the rest of us [will] take over their product and continue to enhance and improve it in true OpenSource fashion": What, you mean like Mozilla? What is it, almost two years late now? For a browser??

    Yes, for a browser. First off, it is was re-written from scratch. Second, a modern browser is not exactly a trivial bit of code. Third, they've been working on more that "just a browser" (Bugzilla, Tinderbox, Grendle, MathML, EMail, Composer, etc...)

    Besides, I recall that after the flop of Mozilla

    I hardly call something that recieved such positive commenting in the /. Beanie 2k "Most Improved" discussion a flop. Where have you been the last few months? They have come a hell of a long way. Maybe you should take a peek at the current Mozilla before sticking your foot too far in your mouth.

    It sounds to me like you are just disgruntled about the fact that Borland/Inprise couldn't make InterBase a success and venting frustration.

  • If the product is commercially dead the source would be usefull even if poor quality source. If the product is alive and the code is high quality one. Great!.
  • > This is the kind of things we expected and will see more of: Companies which used to ignore any other platforms beside Windows suddenly embrace Linux. In fact, Interbase started out on VMS. Has been ported to major Unix platforms before Windows, and has recently been ported to Linux. They are not "suddenly" embracing Linux, as the Linux ports have been around for more than a year, including a free version. The beauty of Interbase is that the database is totally platform independant. Your data can migrate to another platform with a simple backup/restore. Don't knock a product you know nothing about.
  • I wonder what is more important: the 'Open Source' aspect of the database or the actual PORT of the database to linux?

    The open source part.

    If Inprise goes bankrupt having released a closed-source Linux port, the port dies. Anybody who has it will be without either the support of a company or a community with access to the source code. In five years, it would be a troublesome legacy product. If Inprise doesn't go bankrupt, it still only lives as long as Inprise chooses, and everyone who uses it is dependent on Inprise.

    If it is open source, that doesn't stop Inprise from selling a retail version with support -- especially for mission-critical deployments. It also ensures that the code can survive Inprise if necessary.

    And, finally, Inprise lost the development team about a month ago when they quit. This isn't a case of Inprise tossing a potential profit-source off the sled; it's a case of a product that Inprise would otherwise just have to bury.
  • What if slashdot, like so many other projects, opened up a CVS server with the source, and opened it up for read-only access?

    I thought that the whole reason the takeover was a good thing, was that such nifty new things would be possible.

    But, no! We get the beanie awards, instead! ;-)
  • The opening of was a pretty desperate measure, and look at how well that turned out?

    Who says Interbase can't see improvements once opened?
  • by do ( 80452 )
    what do you miss? dBase syntax? dBase IV had already a built-in castrated implementation of SQL. There was no nested queries, as in MySQL. As a matter of fact, MySQL' features, design and restrictions are very close do dBase/FoxPro.

    So, you have all you want.
  • Not for me.
    I'll not look to interbase for embedding in my
    web apps. i might use it for a transactional back end. But no DBMS runs faster alongside apache than mySQL (AFAIK). I can't imagine a better prototyping platform than PHP/mySQL.

  • Interbase is loved by CS majors, but the apps are thoroughly hated by end users. You are a programmer, so I don't expect you to understand this statement. Aside from the innane licensing structure, what is it about IB that end users don't like? It... is easy to install and maintain. has transactions. has stored procs/triggers/generators. has a relatively small footprint. maintains itself. The only downsides I have encountered are potentially really slow apps if you keep autocommit enabled (by a factor of 100) and the automatic sweep (i.e. garbage collection) that can occur. This speed issue can easily be circumvented by decent programming on the application programmer's side. In fact, the automatic sweep issue can be handled by the programmer as well. The fact that either of these occur in released software indicated immaturity or ignorance of the developers. Interbase, just like any other database, will its preformance will be affected by those designing and maintaining the database as well as the skill level of the developers programming to it. Where IB could grow is to improve the speed of its queries and to develop a truly decent DBI:Interbase module.
  • Good point (especially the 'source will live on and thus the product' part). Your remark is a good argument to release sourcecode of an application that has a lot of followers. thanks :)
  • Nice picture of the Slashdot booth at COMDEX at that link, BTW... read all the way down.
  • Just a thought, if it is programmer-endemic laziness, isn't there a good reason for not releasing the source until it is sharp and polished? Think about the security of a major website running an incomplete opensource engine.

    It takes a lot of work to polish code and clearly document it... but I agree, the source code should at least be secretly released to a trusted handful of interested parties... They could then debug and document... the way opensource is supposed to work.

    But then again, this may have already happened...

    At the very least it is a good example of why to open your source from day one.

  • This is what I've just seen posted to the interbase.public.non-technical newsgroup at

    ======== bobitt ===========
    Subject: Re: Interbase Opensource Details?
    Date: Tue, 04 Jan 2000 09:13:47 -0800
    From: "Steve Peters (Inprise/Borland)"
    Organization: Borland
    Newsgroups: interbase.public.non-technical
    References: 1

    Hi Robert,

    My responses are below...

    Robert Love wrote:

    > 1. Is InterBase 5.6 the last version that InterBase will support with there
    > techincal support group or will you be putting out "Certified builds" of
    > the future open source version and supporting thoose as well? --I
    > understand that the support cost must cover the enginners instead of sales.

    I doubt that the "certified builds" thing will happen. 5.6 will most
    likely continue to be sold and supported as a certified Interbase
    version but I don't think anything past 5.6 will.

    > 2. What type of licencing will be used for the source?

    Don't know that yet.

    > 3. Is the product being Open Source... Where the source is sold with the
    > product or
    > is the source going to be publically available?

    I would guess that the software would be publicly available. I think
    they will work out the details of this open sourcing while we wait for
    6.0 to be finished.

    > 4. Besides support will there be any work on the InterBase front in the
    > future. And if so what should we expect.

    Doubtful that any work will happen (beyond support of 5.6) after
    6.0 is released.

    Kind Regards,

    Steve Peters
    Inprise/Borland Developer Support
    =========== bobitt =============
  • Well, presumably if it is open source other people can do the polishing...

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"