Fedora, openSUSE ditch MySQL, in a major database shake-up

Uncertainty over Oracle's stewardship of MySQL

Two major open-source projects, Fedora and openSUSE, are planning to ditch the venerable Oracle MySQL database framework and adopt MariaDB instead.

The Fedora project's wiki says that the decision to make the switch was prompted, at least in part, by uncertainty over Oracle's stewardship of MySQL.

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"Fedora will have a truly open-source MySQL implementation and won't depend on what Oracle decides to do with MySQL in the future," the document says.

According to the project, MariaDB is also "faster in some cases," and has other small advantages over Oracle's product.

The change shouldn't be overly complicated for administrators, since MariaDB - a fork of MySQL - is highly cross-compatible with the Oracle-managed version, Fedora says.

According to The H Online, the database change was one of several tweaks accepted by the project's developers, the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee. Others included integration of KDE KScreen technology for screen management and an update that will ensure network interfaces have predictable names for easier administration.

The changes will take place in Fedora 19, which will also be the last version to support MySQL.

Earlier this month, SUSE Linux engineer Michal Hrusecky announced that openSUSE would make MariaDB the default MySQL implementation in version 12.3 of the operating system.

"'I'm not saying that I'm unhappy with Oracle's MySQL, I know that there is plenty of people doing great job at Oracle pushing MySQL forward, but I believe that new default will bring some more goodies to our users without any unpleasant side-effects. And as we believe in choice, you can still choose Oracle's MySQL over MariaDB. It's up to you," he wrote.

(Hat tip: CNET)

While both Fedora and openSUSE emphasized that the transition would be essentially painless for users, the same might not be said for Oracle. The business computing giant has been viewed with deep suspicion by elements of the FOSS community since it acquired Sun Microsystems - the company that owned the rights to MySQL - in 2009. High-profile defections like Fedora and openSUSE highlight the sometimes contentious relationship between Oracle and FOSS communities.

Jay Lyman, a senior analyst at 451 Research, says that these losses could have substantial follow-on effects, though Oracle's unlikely to exit the market overnight.

"The community distributions Fedora and OpenSUSE typically clear the way for their paid, subscription Linux cousins Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. So I would expect over time we will see other Linux distributions and developer communities follow suit, but there is still a strong customer and user following of MySQL that isn't going away, including loyal Oracle customers," he told Network World in an email.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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