The main problem in having many MariaDB instances running on the same computer is that you will get conflicts between port and sockets.

This page describes how to manually edit the configuration file to have multiple instances of MariaDB (and possibly MySQL or Percona Server). There are however easier solutions to achieve this goal:

Configuration editing

The minimal configuration to avoid conflicts between instances is the following:

[client]
# TCP port to use to connect to mysqld server
port=3306
# Socket to use to connect to mysqld server
socket=/tmp/mysql.sock
[mariadb]
# TCP port to make available for clients
port=3306
#  Socket to make available for clients
socket=/tmp/mysql.sock
# Where MariaDB should store all its data
datadir=/usr/local/mysql/data

The above are the default values. Change them to some unique values for your installation.

The above should be enough to get mysqld to start and for clients like mysql to connect to it. Documentation for other options can be found here.

To check what values mysqld is using, you can do:

mysqld --print-defaults

To list the default values, check the end of:

mysqld --help --verbose

If your problem is that mysqld reads options from system my.cnf files (like /etc/my.cnf) you can force it to only read one specific configuration file:

mysqld --defaults-file=~/.my.cnf

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