Written by Christian Ahmer | 11/20/2023


MariaDB is an open-source relational database management system (RDBMS) that is a fork of MySQL. It was created by the original developers of MySQL after concerns over Oracle's acquisition of MySQL in 2010. MariaDB is designed to be highly compatible with MySQL, meaning that it acts as a drop-in replacement for MySQL with some limitations.

Here's an overview of MariaDB's features and distinctions:

  1. Compatibility with MySQL: MariaDB is largely compatible with MySQL, using the same commands, interfaces, libraries, and APIs. It aims to maintain compatibility with MySQL versions while also adding new features and improvements.

  2. Enhancements over MySQL: MariaDB includes new storage engines, extensions, and improvements that are not found in MySQL, such as the Aria storage engine for better caching and indexing, and the TokuDB storage engine for compression and large datasets.

  3. Community-Driven Development: Unlike MySQL, which is owned by Oracle Corporation, MariaDB is maintained by the MariaDB Foundation and an active community of contributors. This ensures that MariaDB remains free under the GNU GPL.

  4. Performance: MariaDB claims to have improved performance over MySQL, particularly in query optimization and speed, although this can vary based on the specific workload and environment.

  5. Security: MariaDB includes several enhanced security features compared to MySQL, like password expiration policies and improved privilege management.

  6. Advanced Features: MariaDB has introduced a number of advanced features, including support for GIS (Geographic Information Systems), dynamic columns for NoSQL-like functionality, and the CONNECT storage engine, which can access data from various sources including other SQL and NoSQL databases.

  7. Galera Cluster: MariaDB has a strong focus on high availability and clustering through Galera Cluster integration, which provides synchronous multi-master replication.

  8. Migration: For users of MySQL, migrating to MariaDB is typically straightforward, requiring minimal adjustments, if any. This ease of migration has been a key factor in its adoption by users who prefer an open-source or community-driven alternative.

  9. Widespread Adoption: Many Linux distributions and software stacks that previously shipped with MySQL now use MariaDB as the default database system, such as Arch Linux, Fedora, and openSUSE.

  10. Enterprise and Community Editions: MariaDB is available in both community and enterprise editions, with the enterprise edition providing additional performance, security, and monitoring features, as well as commercial support.

MariaDB continues to evolve independently of MySQL, with the aim of maintaining its lead as a robust, scalable, and reliable SQL server, while diversifying its feature set to cater to a broader range of use cases and performance scenarios. It is used by many large organizations and is considered by these users to be a reliable and robust alternative to MySQL.