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Dead database walking: MySQL's creator on why the future belongs to MariaDB

Rohan Pearce | April 2, 2013
MySQL's creator, Michael "Monty" Widenius, is scathing on database's future with Oracle

As further evidence of disdain for MySQL users, Widenius cites what he describes as "sharp" increases in licence and support fees, a lack of an open roadmap and no way for the community to participate in the database's development.

"Why is the price for a MySQL OEM license higher than for Oracle Express?" Widenius asks.

MariaDB was created to be a drop-in replacement for MySQL. Widenius says that as long as MySQL has a larger user base than MariaDB, remaining drop-in compatibility will be essential, in order to make the transition between the databases trivial.

"However, being a drop-in replacement doesn't stop us from changing the underlying code to make it faster and better or add new features," he says.

He makes the bold claim that MariaDB is some 30 developer-years in front of Oracle's MySQL efforts. "MariaDB 5.5 has everything that MySQL 5.5 Enterprise has, plus a lot more," he says.

The code base has begun to diverge significantly from MySQL in some areas, such as in replication and the optimiser, he says, while other areas it remains close, such as InnoDB.

"This allows us to take most of the MySQL bug fixes and apply them quickly to MariaDB."

Widenius says when it comes to areas such as NoSQL extensions and storage engine support (MariaDB includes support for Aria, XtraDB, FederatedX, SphinxSE, Cassandra and OQgraph, for example), MySQL has been overtaken.

Other areas where MariaDB has the lead include "dynamic columns, which allows you to store a different set of columns per row and provide an interface to NoSQL storage engines; pool of threads (similar to what you have in MySQL Enterprise Edition); virtual columns, much better GIS functionality; multi-source replication; and multi-master setup (with Galera)."

MariaDB developers have made a lot of speed improvements, especially in the optimiser, Widenius says, and applied a number of security and bug fixes to the RDBMS.

Widenius says MariaDB has enough momentum that the project won't be affected by Oracle's continuing ownership of MySQL.

"MariaDB is not depending on MySQL for future development," he says.

"If Oracle tomorrow closed the code base or stop developing MySQL, we can continue to develop MariaDB as if nothing had happened. This is because almost all of the original core engineers, including all MySQL architects and the original MySQL optimiser experts are now working on MariaDB."

By Widenius' estimates there are now 1 million MariaDB installations, and the decision by RedHat's Fedora and SUSE's Open SUSE Linux distributions to include the newer database by default will bring this install base close to 10 million by the end of the year. Slackware announced on 23 March that it was ditching MySQL in favour of MariaDB.


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