We're putting the band back together

MySQL members reunite for merged MariaDB - and Wikipedia pledges allegiance

MariaDB, the community-run fork of MySQL, has had a stellar couple of days. First, Wikipedia announced that it was switching from MySQL to MariaDB; and now creators Monty Program have merged with SkySQL, reuniting key members of the original MySQL team.Wikipedia’s decision to switch was made not only on the merits of MariaDB’s technical performance, but also its license - unlike MySQL, it’s entirely free of proprietary code, and is hosted by an independent foundation.

“As supporters of the free culture movement, the Wikimedia Foundation strongly prefers free software projects,” wrote Asher Feldman, Wikipedia Site Architect.

It couldn’t have come at a better time for Monty Program and SkySQL, two Finnish companies deeply involved in MariaDB. The merger brings together, for the first time in years, many of the developers who worked on MySQL before Sun’s takeover.

Monty Program, parent company of MariaDB, was founded by Michael “Monty” Widenius, the original creator of MySQL. His company was sold to Sun Microsystems in 2008 for a cool $1bn - but when Sun was its acquired by Oracle the following year, Widenius wrote an impassioned plea to users to “help save MySQL from Oracle's clutches”.

When his campaign failed, Widenius forked the project to create MariaDB, an “enhanced” drop-in replacement for MySQL with identical filenames and APIs, and compatibility with almost all MySQL connectors. Like MySQL, it’s also named after one of Widenius’ daughters (My and Maria).

However, there are two crucial differences between MySQL and MariaDB: not only does the latter have a seal, rather than a dolphin, as its logo; but as of last December it’s now controlled by a neutral non-profit organisation, the MariaDB Foundation.

Widenius says that having both strong commercial and charitable organisations supporting the software is crucial to its long-term success. “With this merger and my own role in the MariaDB Foundation, I’m ensuring that the MariaDB project will remain ‘open source forever’, while knowing that enterprise and community users of both the MySQL & MariaDB databases will benefit from best-in-breed products, services and support provided by SkySQL.”

With MariaDB now being downloaded 500,000 times each year and coming as default in Linux distributions Fedora and OpenSUSE, it seems that MySQL’s grip on the open-source relational database market may finally be slipping.

Elliot Bentley

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