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Red Hat ditches MySQL in favour of MariaDB

MariaDB continues to gain admirers, with Red Hat the latest to switch allegiance to the MySQL fork.

Red Hat revealed at Friday’s Red Hat Summit that the upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.0 distribution will ship with the database as default, rather than MySQL.

Since the return of key MySQL members back in April, MariaDB has scored notable coups, with Wikimedia, Fedora and now Red Hat abandoning MySQL for the forked project, which is free of proprietary code.

After Oracle’s purchase of Sun Microsystems in 2009 , many MySQL users became disillusioned with the project, as the new owners chose to tighten the budget, cutting low-priced support entirely. Already supplying MySQL’s biggest closed source competitor, many felt there was a conflict of interests and that the purchase would slow down development of the open source counterpart.

Unhappy at the change of direction, Monty Widenius, MySQL’s creator called upon the community to “help save MySQL from Oracle’s clutches.” This was inevitably unsuccessful, so the Finnish developer left to found his own project, aka Maria DB.

The project is intended to be a drop-in replacement, meaning newcomers could effectively switch to the GNU-licensed project with little hassle, and with purported performance benefits. Importantly for some, it relieved them of being tied to Oracle, which might suggest the recent surge of switches. By moving across, Red Hat can theoretically contribute to patches more frequently than under the previous regime.

MariaDB, named after Widenius’ daughter, wasn’t the only fork at the time, with Facebook also choosing to go their own way. Several community Linux distributions, such as openSUSE and Arch Linux, already offer MariaDB as default, but Red Hat’s pledge is the biggest to date.

With half a million downloads each year, MariaDB is still some distance behind MySQL. But with large companies switching across, there’s nothing to suggest they won’t continue to shorten the gap.

Update - According to the H, Red Hat say no decision has been made over whether MySQL or MariaDB will be used as the default for RHEL 7.

In an email sent to the press, Mark Coggin Red Hat's Director of Product Marketing, said: "We are also not in a position to confirm the features or databases planned for Red Hat Software Collections that will be offered with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. Despite not sharing the details, databases will be offered as part of the overall solution when Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 ships

The confusion has arisen from a session given at Red Hat Summit by Senior Engineering Manager Radek Vokál, who categorically told the audience that "we are replacing MySQL with MariaDB". We shall wait and see whether this happens when RHEL 7 is released later in the year.

Chris Mayer

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