What's the difference between MariaDB and MySQL? I'm not very familiar with both. I'm primarily a front end developer for the most part.

Are they syntactically similar? Where do these two query languages differ?

Wikipedia only mentions the difference between licensing:

MariaDB is a community-developed branch of the MySQL database, the impetus being the community maintenance of its free status under GPL, as opposed to any uncertainty of MySQL license status under its current ownership by Oracle.


3 Answers 3


MariaDB is a backward compatible, binary drop-in replacement of MySQL. What this means is:

  • Data and table definition files (.frm) files are binary compatible.
  • All client APIs, protocols and structs are identical.
  • All filenames, binaries, paths, ports, sockets, and etc... should be the same.
  • All MySQL connectors work unchanged with MariaDB.
  • The mysql-client package also works with MariaDB server.

In most common practical scenarios, MariaDB version 5.x.y will work exactly like MySQL 5.x.y, MariaDB follows the version of MySQL, i.e. it's version number is used to indicate with which MySQL version it's compatible.

MariaDB originated as a fork of MySQL by Michael "Monty" Widenius, one of the original developers of MySQL and co-founder of MySQL Ab. The MariaDB Foundation acts as the custodian of MariaDB.

The main motivation behind MariaDB was to provide a floss version of MySQL, in case Oracle goes all corporate with MySQL. It's worth noting that Monty was vocal against MySQL acquisition (via Sun's acquisition) by Oracle.

Although MariaDB is supposed to be compatible with MySQL, for one reason or the other there are quite a few compatibility issues and different features:

  • MariaDB includes all popular open source engines,

  • MariaDB claims several speed improvements over MySQL, and

  • there are a few new floss extensions that MySQL lacks

    Finally, the name comes from Monty's daughter Maria (the other one being My), as MySQL is now a registered trademark of Oracle Corporation.

  • 1
    Thank you for the very comprehensive explanation. Exactly what i was looking for.
    – chrisjlee
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 21:43
  • 5
    MariaDB is explicitly not SQL-99 complete, as disclaimed on the very page this answer links to. For example, it doesn't support assertions at all and CTEs haven't yet made it into a stable release. The story is much the same for MySQL.
    – Air
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 19:12
  • I believe the links to montyprogram dot com have rotted, but I have no clue where equivalents for these links could be found online.
    – Hay
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 14:46
  • MariaDB supports InnoDB right? why its written like that? Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 8:18
  • 1
    @PaulsonPeter Yes, MariaDB supports InnoDB. Not sure what your second question is about.
    – yannis
    Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 10:36

It's a fork - two separate projects starting from the same original codebase but moving in separate directions. This has happened quite frequently with the open source projects where Oracle has bought the sponsoring companies.

To my understanding MariaDB is maintained and enhanced by the original MySQL developers, and MySQL is maintained and enhanced by Oracle. It depends on who you want to do that job.


Differences I have found so far:


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