MariaDB vs. MySQL

June 21, 2013 lgdelg

For many years, MySQL was the leader of the pack when it came to open source relational databases. In recent years, however, the MySQL fork, MariaDB, has been making significant headway and some big sites – including Wikipedia – have made or are in the process of making the switch.
MariaDB is a community-developed fork of the MySQL relational database management system, the impetus being the community maintenance of its free status under the GNU GPL. As a fork of a leading open source software system, it is notable for being led by its original developers and triggered by concerns over direction by an acquiring commercial company Oracle. In addition to its role as a ‘drop-in replacement’ for MySQL, MariaDB also includes some new features that (some claim) make it better than MySQL.
MySQL was created by the Finnish developer Michael “Monty” Widenius and David Axmark and released under the GPL and various commercial licenses. The database was originally developed under the auspices of MySQL, AB but in 2008 that company was sold to Sun Microsystems, which was itself acquired by Oracle Corporation, the developers of a popular and closed source competitor to MySQL.
MySQL is by far the most popular open source relational database platform. After being dissatisfied with the way development was heading under Sun, however, Widenius forked MySQL and created MariaDB. The purchase by Oracle further cemented the impression that MySQL was not in safe hands because of a perceived conflict of interest between MySQL and Oracle’s commercial database products.
MariaDB was intended as a drop-in, fully compatible replacement for MySQL, with each version of MariaDB implementing all of the features of its equivalent MySQL version. However, because patches and new features have been incorporated into MariaDB more quickly than MySQL, as things stand, MariaDB has made some significant performance and feature advances. In versions before the 10.x release, users could be certain that everything MySQL did, equivalent versions of MariaDB did too, but that reverse was not always true. In the future, MariaDB is likely to diverge more rapidly from MySQL.