At the mention of some of the most popular opensource database systems in the world, MySQL and MariaDB always pop in one’s mind as some of the most widely used database management systems. The two are renowned in the database circles with MySQL featuring prominently in giant tech Companies such as Facebook, YouTube, and WordPress. In web hosting circles, MySQL has edged out its rivals and firmly maintained its position as the most preferred database system in the LAMP stack. LAMP stack is the heart of a web server. It’s an acronym for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP.
With time, however, MariaDB has grown in popularity becoming the apple of millions of developers’ and IT enthusiasts’ eyes. Global giants such as Google, Wikipedia, and Shutterstock have their platforms riding on MariaDB. Currently, MariaDB is the default database system in latest versions of Linux distributions such as OpenSUSE, RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Manjaro, Fedora and Arch Linux. In 2017, it replaced MySQL in Debian 9 to offer a more secure, stable and scalable database system. As more tech giants continue to ditch MySQL for MariaDB, it goes without saying that MariaDB is the de facto Opensource RDBMS – Relational Database Management System.
What happened to MySQL?
MySQL was off to a good start, but Trouble began with its acquisition by Sun Microsystem in 2008. Top developers expressed their misgivings about the whole takeover and intentions of Sun Microsystem. Later, acquisition of Sun Microsystem by Oracle Inc drew a lot of criticism from the Opensource community and was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Top developers of MySQL called it a day and began creating a fork of MySQL in earnest. This fork later came to be known as MariaDB and was officially made available to the Opensource community in 2009 under the GNU license. Since then, MariaDB has revolutionized the Opensource database sphere and continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Because of MySQL’s licensing, more companies continued to migrate to MariaDB as it worked just as well as MySQL with tons of new features and improvements.
What has spurred MariaDB’s growth?
With declining popularity of MySQL database and a massive shift to MariaDB, you may wonder what made MariaDB such a huge success since its inception. In this section, we will focus on some of the key improvements and features that have propelled MariaDB’s growth and consequent popularity.
To start off, MariaDB does not require a license especially when it comes to production / commercial environments. Since its takeover by Oracle, MySQL now requires a license for commercial purposes. This move compelled thousands of developers to opt for MariaDB. XAMPP, a popular web server stack even ditched MySQL for MariaDB in its LAMP stack. With no license being required for its deployment, MariaDB is thus considered a true opensource RDBMS – Relational Database Management System.
MariaDB comes with an inbuilt and powerful clustering feature known as Galera Cluster with the ability to offer master-to-master and master-to-slave replication. It provides automatic node joining, row-level parallel replication, and synchronous replication with read & write capability to any of the nodes in a cluster. Additionally, you can afford to lose a node(s) in your cluster without having to worry about interruptions in cluster operations and without deploying complex failover plans.
MariaDB also comes with inbuilt robust storage engines and useful plugins. Cassandra storage engine provides support for NoSQL which accommodates both SQL and NoSQL systems. There’s TokuDB which facilitates processing of big data and is ideal for high performance and resource intensive environments. Other cutting-edge storage engines include Aria and XtraDB which have replaced the old and tired MyISAM and InnoDB respectively in MySQL.
Other new and super cool features that come inbuilt in MariaDB include ColumnStore engine which is tailored specifically for data warehousing, CONNECT storage engine built for facilitating access to local and remote data by MariaDB, MyRocks which is an LSM database that provides a superb compression ratio, SEQUENCE engine for creation of sequences (whether ascending or descending from a given point of reference or starting value) and Spider engine to mention a few.
MariaDB boasts better performance not only in query optimization but also in other functionalities as well. There are fast speeds when clients connect to MariaDB with more improvements added from MariaDB 10.1 & 10.2 alike. This makes MariaDB a more preferred choice to MySQL.
With the ever-increasing cases of cyber threats and vulnerabilities, MariaDB developers make regular security announcements and avail patches and upgrades. Also, their release notes contain all the latest CVE identifiers. This is a far cry from MySQL whose security announcements are less frequent and have been termed as vague, making patch management a difficult task to implement. Moreover, a huge disparity exists between the CVE identifiers listed in release notes and those currently in existence.
It’s important to also mention that there is better testing for MariaDB which contributes to fewer bugs in compilation warnings and errors. This has mainly been due to the large community of contributors, and developers whose sole aim is to improve the database system. All the source code is released under the General Public License (GPL) and all closed source modules found in MySQL are present in opensource MariaDB. This makes MariaDB a true Opensource Database System.
Finally, MariaDB is a drop-in replacement for MySQL and migrating to MariaDB from MySQL is a matter of executing a few commands. If you have a few MySQL database instances running, all that is required is to remove/purge MySQL packages and install MariaDB. Settings will automatically be migrated making it a smooth and cool upgrade!
MariaDB’s growth will remain undeterred largely due to its vibrant and opensource community that fosters the maintenance of better and cleaner code. The database System is also replete with a ton of useful features promising immersive experiences. In the next few years, we are likely to witness more companies making the shift to MariaDB as applications get more complex requiring more rrobust, stable and secure database systems.