Upgrading from MySQL to MariaDB is Easy as 1,2,3

This post is just to show how easy it is to upgrade or migrate from MySQL to MariaDB.

I should begin by stating this article is geared more towards MySQL 5.1 and prior, as MySQL 5.5 users will likely want to wait until MariaDB 5.5 is available (which I believe will be in the near future).

As you may or may not know, there are actually 3 flavors of MariaDB currently: 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3.

All three are based off of the 5.1 MySQL code base, just 5.2 and 5.3 have further improvements over 5.1. So, that’s why I say this upgrade is “easy” and there’s no need to be afraid, especially for 5.1 users. But even if you were a 5.0 user, the upgrade to MySQL 5.1 compared to MariaDB 5.1 would not be any different. So, why not give it a go?

You’ll have all of the benefits from using MySQL, but also all of the added improvements from MariaDB and XtraDB+.

I like the fact you can “ease” into it. For instance, if running MySQL 5.1.60 (the most current 5.1) on Linux with the InnoDB Plugin, you can simply move to MariaDB 5.1.60 using the InnoDB Plugin1.

Then basically everything is the same, but now you have access to the new features. For instance, you’d now have the Aria, XtraDB, PBXT, and FederatedX storage engines. You could easily upgrade your InnoDB Plugin to use the XtraDB+ Plugin instead once you have MariaDB installed (basically it’s the same InnoDB but with a number of extra performance-related improvements). It’s all up to you once you make the switch.

I should note that if you are running Windows, then I suggest you migrate straight to MariaDB 5.2, as there are numerous Windows-specific improvements starting with MariaDB 5.2 (and even more Windows performance enhancements in 5.3). (I would imagine that once upgrading, one would want to benefit from the 5.2 improvements anyways, and perhaps benchmark 5.3 in the meantime.)

As for all of the specific details, let me first quote the MariaDB Compatibility page from their manual, just for reference:

“For all practical purposes, MariaDB is a binary drop in replacement of the same MySQL version (for example MySQL 5.1 -> MariaDB 5.1, MariaDB 5.2 & MariaDB 5.3 are compatible. MySQL 5.5 will be compatible with MariaDB 5.5).”


The above page goes on in-depth about the compatibility, drop-in binary replacement upgrade, how to replace an rpm, and even the couple incompatibilities (from MySQL 5.1 to MariaDB 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3). Everything is well-documented, and the above is a great reference for anyone planning (or even considering) to upgrade.

As I mentioned, there are currently 3 series of MariaDB: 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3. The latest 5.1 is 5.1.60 (and it is GA), the latest 5.2 is 5.2.10 (also GA), and the latest 5.3 is 5.3.3 (which is “Release Candidate” status – so close to GA).

You can download MariaDB from here (there are links to all 3 series):


And the improvements are too many to list, but let me post some:


o New storage engines: Aria, XtraDB, PBXT, FederatedX 2
o Speed Improvements
o New Extensions & New Features
o Upgrade and Testing improvements


o New storage engines: OQGRAPH and SphinxSE
o Virtual columns
o Extended User Statistics
o Segmented MyISAM key cache
o Pluggable Authentication
o Group commit for the Aria engine


o Subquery optimizations
o Semi-join subquery optimizations
o Non-semi-join optimizations
o Subquery Cache
o Optimizations for derived tables and views
o Disk access optimization
o Join optimizations
o Index Merge improvements
o Optimizer control
o Microsecond support
o Windows performance improvements

And for the full list of improvements in each series, please refer to the following links for 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3, respectively:


Thus far, everything sounds like an improvement. But as far as I can tell, if you take a great product and add even more enhancements on top of it, it’s hard to go wrong.

If I were pressed to come up with a “con”, I would say there might be a slight delay (up to a month) from the latest MySQL available version compared to the latest MariaDB version. However, this may not be a “con” anyway. After all, merging monthly gives the MySQL code a couple weeks to mature, basically letting others run into any new bugs before it’s merged into MariaDB. In fact, it reminds me of the old “Quarterly Service Packs” versus the “Monthly Rapid Updates” MySQL used to provide. Therefore, if one were to apply that reasoning, it could be said that you might be less likely to encounter a regression bug in MariaDB (therefore overall stability could be improved).

And if you need support for MariaDB, just contact SkySQL, as we fully support it:



1: In MariaDB, if you use the built-in InnoDB, then you are using XtraDB+. Otherwise, if you enable the InnoDB Plugin, then you are enabling the standard InnoDB plugin. Note that XtraDB+ is an improvement over XtraDB as it contains even further enhancements.

2: FederatedX is a huge improvement over Federated – a “must have” if you use Federated.

2 thoughts on “Upgrading from MySQL to MariaDB is Easy as 1,2,3”

  1. @od3n:

    No, there’s no need to change your tables to Aria to get “MariaDB” enhancements. Aria is just a new storage engine that is also available with MariaDB. So, you can still use your original MyISAM and InnoDB tables, and there’s no need to change anything. But, if you want a feature that is specific to the Aria storage engine only, then yes, you would need to convert that table(s) to Aria in order to use such a feature.

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