A reminder on why we do Free Software

Some months ago I needed to find out if proper forward-only cursors were implemented in the ODBC driver for MySQL. I didn't go very far with the documentation, but I've been diving in its source code and within 30 minutes I knew everything there was to know about the subject.

Now, after years I haven't touched proprietary software at all, I've been asked to port dballe to use the Oracle ODBC driver.

I had a similar problem: find out how to use scrollable cursors with Oracle's ODBC driver. The release notes (a file called ODBCRelnotesUS.htm that I probably can't put online without their consent) say that they're implemented since ages, but SQLSetStmtAttr always tells me that the driver does not support it. Maybe I have to enable it somewhere? Maybe it's a bug?

I could have found out with one hour browsing this driver's source code, but that wasn't available. Instead, I had to spend a whole day of trial and error, google searching with all sort of keyword combinations, looking at strings output on the .so libraries, and in the end I still don't know.

That porting project is now stuck indefinitely, and my customers had to pay for a full day of fruitless work.

So, here's the reminder: If you base on 3rd party proprietary software, you can't provide a serious service.