Recently, we've had several customers ask us about running their Joomla sites on the MariaDB database.
MariaDB is a fork of MySQL and is nearly identical to it. Yes, it's true that Joomla doesn't officially support MariaDB. However, many webhosts do use it. In fact, Joomlashack.com is running on MariaDB!
What's the difference between MySQL or MariaDB?
MySQL has been the most popular database server for many, many years. MySQL was first released to the public in 1996, and it became open source under the GPL license in 2000.
Hordes of web applications have been written in PHP and use MySQL, including WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.
However, a turning point arrived in 2008, when Sun Microsystems acquired MySQL. This caused some concern among the userbase for MySQL. Those concerns intensified in 2010, when Oracle bought out Sun. As a result, many of the original developers quit Sun/Oracle and forked the MySQL code to create MariaDB.
Although MySQL remains a GPL product, MariaDB has become an increasingly popular alternative over the years. The two products are not 100% identical, but they are very similar.
Here's the Wikipedia description of MariaDB:
"MariaDB is a community-developed, commercially supported fork of the MySQL relational database management system, intended to remain free and open-source software under the GNU GPL. Development is led by some of the original developers of MySQL, who forked it due to concerns over its acquisition by Oracle Corporation."
You can find out more at MariaDB.org.
Is it safe to use MariaDB with Joomla?
Joomla officially recommends using at least MySQL 5.1. However, that is very generous because 5.1 was released all the way back in 2010 and is now very out-of-date. Some of our extensions have features that require at least MySQL 5.6.
So it is completely safe to use MariaDB for your Joomla sites. However, we recommend using a version of MariaDB that is at least equal to MySQL 5.6. That means using at least MariaDB 10.1.
MariaDB feedback from Joomla developers
If you want to know more about why Joomla doesn't officially support MariaDB, read this Github thread.
We asked Joomla developers on Twitter via @joomlashack about their MariaDB use and got these very helpful replies:
Haven´t seen any DB related issues on a large size site that was running j2.5.x for way too long and now finally at j3.9.2. MariaDB is the default on the web host used— Ole Bang Ottosen (@ot2sen) January 17, 2019
And this one as well:
Theoretically, as long as any MySQL "drop in replacement" remains compatible with MySQL features & C libraries that PHP uses (MariaDB or Percona as 2 big examples, and yes I did have a deployment on Percona for a bit), any of them can be used as a backend for Joomla without issue— Michael Babker (@mbabker) January 17, 2019