For more than a decade, MySQL has been at the forefront of dedicated server technology, with millions of websites all over the world relying on the database to power their dynamic websites. It has become so prevailen that it is included in the popular web development stack called LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL and PHP).
As with any software, however, its benefits depend on developer support, the ability to customize, and the promise of longevity. For MySQL, one of its primary strengths was its status as free and open source software. Its purchase by Sun Microsystems and then subsequent purchase by Oracle left some of the developers wondering about its future.
MariaDB is a fully operational and compatible alternative of the MySQL code that is not entangled in Oracle’s corporate shuffle. For many companies running dedicated servers, this is an important distinction, one that can prevent them from falling into vendor lock-in.
MariaDB is called a “drop-in” replacement for MySQL, meaning that a database from one can be seamlessly transferred to another. The lead developer Monty Widenius, named MySQL after his daughter, My, and has named MariaDB after his younger daughter, Maria.
MariaDB is free and open source software, released under the GNU GPL and is available for download from the project’s website and through some Linux distribution repositories.