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MySQL face-off: MySQL or MariaDB?

Sean Hull | Aug. 14, 2013
MariaDB challenges MySQL with greater performance, more advanced features, and complete backward compatibility.

As if all of these reasons aren't enough, MariaDB is a fully GPL-licensed version of MySQL. None of the plug-ins or other components are closed source. This brings all of the advantages of open source, from security and transparency to identifying bugs. MySQL is available under the GPL or a commercial license provided by Oracle. As a result, some components are open source, but others are not.

Comparing apples and oranges
If you're evaluating the various alternative distributions of MySQL, you'll need to weigh the pros and cons.

Percona, for example, offers another alternative to Oracle's MySQL Community Edition. Percona tends to take a more conservative approach to rolling in new features. This likely amounts to a small plus for stability but a minus point for not having the very latest and greatest features. Percona is still a big step ahead of MySQL, but perhaps not as close to the bleeding edge of what's happening across the MySQL world as MariaDB.

Drizzle is yet another fork of MySQL. In this case, though, it's a complete rewrite aimed at cloud deployments. Open source yes, but it's not a drop-in replacement for MySQL. You'll have to dump and reload your data, perhaps tweak your application as well, to get everything to work perfectly.

Although MariaDB may lag Percona a bit in terms of adoption, its popularity is growing quickly. For instance, Red Hat is replacing MySQL with MariaDB in its enterprise distribution, and Google recently devoted an engineer to the MariaDB project. As a serious alternative to MySQL, the case for MariaDB seems only to get stronger.


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