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Kai Parker
Kai Parker

MariaDB Free Download: Open Source Relational Database & Tools

MariaDB Free Download: What You Need to Know

If you are looking for a free, open source, reliable and fast relational database management system (RDBMS), you might want to consider MariaDB. MariaDB is a fork of MySQL, one of the most popular databases in the world. It was created by some of the original developers of MySQL who wanted to preserve its open source nature and community spirit after MySQL was acquired by Oracle.

MariaDB is designed to be a drop-in replacement for MySQL, meaning that it is fully compatible with MySQL data files, APIs, protocols, libraries and commands. However, it also offers some advantages over MySQL in terms of features, performance, compatibility, security and community. In this article, we will compare and contrast MariaDB and MySQL, show you how to download and install MariaDB on different operating systems, and give you some tips on how to configure and use MariaDB after installation.

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MariaDB vs MySQL: Key Differences and Similarities

MariaDB and MySQL are both open source RDBMS that use SQL as their query language. They both support various storage engines, data types, functions, operators, indexes, triggers, views, stored procedures and other database objects. They both can be used for web development, data warehousing, analytics, business intelligence and other applications.

However, there are also some key differences between them that you should be aware of before choosing one over the other. Here are some of the main aspects where they differ:


MariaDB has more features than MySQL in terms of storage engines, data types, functions and extensions. For example:

  • MariaDB supports 12 new storage engines such as Aria , ColumnStore, Spider, Cassandra, Connect and Sequence

  • MariaDB supports new data types such as dynamic columns, JSON, GIS and IPv6

  • MariaDB supports new functions such as window functions, common table expressions, recursive queries, roles, virtual columns and system versioned tables

  • MariaDB supports Oracle compatibility mode, which allows it to run Oracle PL/SQL code and use Oracle data types and syntax

MySQL, on the other hand, has some features that MariaDB does not have (yet), such as:

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  • MySQL supports the X DevAPI, which is a modern and easy-to-use API for working with JSON documents and relational data

  • MySQL supports the InnoDB Cluster, which is a high availability solution that provides automatic failover, self-healing and scaling capabilities

  • MySQL supports the MySQL Shell, which is an interactive and scriptable command-line interface that supports multiple languages and formats

  • MySQL supports the MySQL Router, which is a lightweight middleware that provides transparent routing between applications and back-end MySQL servers


MariaDB claims to be faster and more scalable than MySQL in various scenarios. For example:

  • MariaDB has a better query optimizer that can handle complex queries more efficiently

  • MariaDB has a faster replication system that can handle more concurrent transactions and reduce slave lag

  • MariaDB has a more advanced thread pool that can handle more concurrent connections and reduce contention

  • MariaDB has a more flexible caching system that can improve the performance of read-intensive workloads

However, performance is not a static or absolute measure. It depends on many factors such as hardware, configuration, workload, benchmark and version. Therefore, it is always advisable to test both MariaDB and MySQL in your own environment and with your own data before making a decision.


MariaDB is designed to be 100% compatible with MySQL 5.7 and earlier versions. This means that you can switch from MySQL to MariaDB without any changes to your data files, applications or tools. MariaDB also supports most of the features introduced in MySQL 8.0, such as window functions, common table expressions, roles and invisible indexes. However, there are some minor migration requirements for some of the new features in MySQL 8.0, such as:

  • The default authentication plugin in MySQL 8.0 is caching_sha2_password, while in MariaDB it is mysql_native_password. You may need to change the authentication plugin or use the old_passwords option to make them compatible

  • The default character set and collation in MySQL 8.0 are utf8mb4 and utf8mb4_0900_ai_ci, while in MariaDB they are utf8mb4 and utf8mb4_general_ci. You may need to change the character set or collation or use the skip-character-set-client-handshake option to make them compatible

  • The default SQL mode in MySQL 8.0 is stricter than in MariaDB. It includes the modes ONLY_FULL_GROUP_BY, STRICT_TRANS_TABLES, NO_ZERO_IN_DATE, NO_ZERO_DATE, ERROR_FOR_DIVISION_BY_ZERO, NO_ENGINE_SUBSTITUTION and NO_AUTO_CREATE_USER. You may need to change the SQL mode or use the ignore_db_dirs option to make them compatible


MariaDB offers some security enhancements over MySQL that can help you protect your data and prevent unauthorized access. For example:

  • MariaDB enables encryption by default for all connections, tables and logs. It also supports encryption key management using plugins or external services

  • MariaDB provides a database firewall that can block or log SQL statements based on rules or patterns. It can also prevent SQL injection attacks by detecting malicious queries

  • MariaDB includes an audit plugin that can record all the activities on the server such as connections, queries, errors and warnings. It can also filter the audit events based on users, hosts or commands


MariaDB has a more vibrant and active open source community than MySQL. It has more contributors, more commits, more releases and more forks than MySQL on GitHub. It also has more mailing lists, forums, blogs and events than MySQL on its official website. MariaDB benefits from the shared innovation and collaboration of the open source community, which allows it to incorporate new features and fixes faster than MySQL.

How to Download and Install MariaDB on Different Operating Systems

Now that you have learned some of the differences and similarities between MariaDB and MySQL, you might be interested in trying out MariaDB yourself. The good news is that downloading and installing MariaDB is very easy and straightforward. You can download the latest stable version of MariaDB from the official website:

There are different installation packages available for different operating systems, such as Windows, Linux and Mac OS. Here are the steps to download and install MariaDB on each of them:


If you are using Windows, you can download the MSI installer from the official website. The MSI installer is a graphical user interface (GUI) that guides you through the installation process. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Download the MSI installer from the official website. Choose the version that matches your Windows architecture (32-bit or 64-bit)

  • Run the MSI installer by double-clicking on it or right-clicking and choosing "Run as administrator"

  • Follow the instructions on the screen. You can choose the installation type (typical, custom or complete), the installation directory, the root password, the service name and other options

  • Click "Install" to start the installation. Wait for it to finish and click "Finish" to exit the installer

  • Verify that MariaDB is installed and running by opening a command prompt and typing "mysql -u root -p". Enter the root password that you set during the installation and you should see the MariaDB welcome message


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