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Ulf Michael Widenius, better known to open source folk as Monty, has a few things in common with Linux creator Linus Torvalds.

Monty is from Finland, speaks Swedish like four percent of the population (the remainder speak Finnish) and is an author of an important open source package, in this case MySQL.

But, in contrast to some open source people, Monty is easy to talk to and candid in what he says. I caught up with him on the sidelines of the recent Australian national Linux conference.

Edited extracts:

iTWire: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Monty: I started with computers pretty early - in 1975 - as I was in Scandinavia. I started working with databases in '81, and working with lots of different customers. I did a lot of work in data mining, and for that I created a program that over time  evolved into MySQL. In 1995, we released the code that I had created under an open source-like licence for people to use.

iTWire: So initially it was proprietary?

Monty: In a sense, it was proprietary but it was just because we didn't have something we thought was usable by the masses. Because if you release something you also need to be able to support it. You also need to believe that you can get a big user group that would like to use it. I've been working in an open source environment basically since '83. And in '95, it was the first time we thought that we actually had something that we could give to the community.

iTWire: When you say 'we', whom do you mean? You and...?

Monty: Me and David Axmark. And then we had a third person, Allan Larsson.

CONTINUED

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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