Wikipedia Migrates to MariaDB

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 29, 2013

More and more Oracle is looking like the place where good software goes to die a slow and lonely death. Sure, Oracle is still developing MySQL, but who’s there to work on it anymore? Since the best and brightest tend to leave Oracle soon after their project is acquired, it comes as no surprise that MariaDB is emerging as the de facto successor to the most popular open source database on the web.

If you don’t know the history of MySQL and MariaDB, (which, if you are reading this site you may well know it better than I!) MySQL AB was founded by Monty Widenius in 1995, the creator of MySQL. The company thrived, and in 2008 was purchased by Sun Microsystems for one billion dollars. MySQL seemed to do well at Sun, but Sun was bought out (taken over?) by Oracle in 2010. The first release of MariaDB by Monty was a year prior, in 2009.

There was, and continues to be, concern over Oracle’s treatment of the open source competitor to their own Oracle database. I personally have wondered what motivation, if any, Oracle has to maintain MySQL. They may simply be milking the revenue stream created by MySQL AB until the well goes dry. Since MariaDB is surpassing MySQL in performance and community goodwill, that day may come sooner rather than later.

Wikipedia is one of my favorite references for enterprise deployment of open source software. Last week, Asher Feldman, a site architect at Wikipedia, posted on the Wikipedia Tech Blog an announcement that they had migrated to MariaDB from the Facebook fork of MySQL.

That said, MariaDB’s optimizer enhancements, the feature set of Percona’s XtraDB (many overlap with the Facebook patch, but I particularly like add-ons such as the ability to save the buffer pool LRU list, avoiding costly warmups on new servers), and of Oracle’s MySQL 5.5 provide compelling reasons to consider upgrading. Equally important, as supporters of the free culture movement, the Wikimedia Foundation strongly prefers free software projects; that includes a preference for projects without bifurcated code bases between differently licensed free and enterprise editions. We welcome and support the MariaDB Foundation as a not-for-profit steward of the free and open MySQL related database community.

Hot on the heels of Wikpedia’s conversion came the announcement that SkySQL had merged with Monty Program AB. As I understand it, the merger reunites many of the contributors to the original MySQL, and should provide a solid base for the future of MariaDB. These two news stories convince me that there is very little reason to use Oracle’s flavor of MySQL.