MariaDB Server Default in Debian 9

One way of distributing Linux based software is to make the software so popular and easily consumable that distributions want to include it. By consumable, I mean that the software should be packaged correctly, processes around the software need to be transparent and any issues found with the software should be addressed swiftly.Debian logo large.jpg

MariaDB Server has become a software package distributed widely by the Linux distributions. There are a lot of distros including MariaDB Server nowadays. We try to keep an updated list of distributions that include MariaDB but let us know if there is something missing.

Since MariaDB started as a fork of MySQL, users evaluate between MariaDB or MySQL when choosing the right open source database. The same question is relevant for the distros as well, which variant should be installed by default? Red Hat, SUSE, CentOS, Fedora and many others already choose to have MariaDB Server as the default MySQL variant.

Now Debian joins by making MariaDB Server 10.1 the default in Debian 9.

With MariaDB Server as the default in Debian it’s included in the Stable repository for Debian 9 and available to all users of Debian 9. To read Debian’s update on this, please refer to the what’s new in Debian 9 article.

From a MariaDB Server perspective, to be the default MySQL variant in Debian provides many benefits:

  • There will be more users running MariaDB Server. Whenever there is a dependency on MySQL or MariaDB, MariaDB Server will be installed by default.
  • Popular software will make sure that they are compatible with MariaDB since MariaDB Server will be installed by default.
  • Being the default means that MariaDB Server is part of Debian’s Stable repository and is being built by the Debian build system on all possible platforms from IBM System z to ARM-based platforms.

There are of course benefits for the users as well:

  • MariaDB follows good open source practices such as being open about security issues and providing immediate information about them. Also, the open development of MariaDB Server is hugely important. Users can see what’s going on, can participate in development and will know when they can expect new features and versions.
  • Debian users can benefit from all features provided in MariaDB Server 10.1 such as multi-master support through the inclusion of Galera, Data at Rest Encryption and improved replication.

Let’s look at what all this means in practice. Let’s say you have installed Debian 9 as your web server on which you want to install WordPress for your blog. Looking at the details of the WordPress package you’ll see a couple of dependencies and suggested installations together with installing WordPress itself:

  • The first dependency of interest in this case is on the default-mysql-client. This is a metapackage that points to the latest version available in the repository for the chosen MySQL compatible client library that should be used with WordPress. The metapackage points to mariadb-client-10.1.
  • The other dependency, which is of type suggestion is the package default-mysql-server. This is again a metapackage that points to the default MySQL variant in Debian, which is the package mariadb-server-10.1.

When installing WordPress you’ll end up with the MariaDB 10.1 client library installed and you’ll also install MariaDB Server 10.1 (if you accept the suggestion).

A lot of work went into the packaging of MariaDB to support the concept of metapackages, and making the installation and upgrading process as smooth as possible as well as to also coordinate any package compatibility issues when making MariaDB the default MySQL variant. A special thanks goes to the package maintainers Otto Kekäläinen, Arnaud Fontaine and Ondřej Surý for making this happen! Thanks also to the many other developers  addressing issues found by the package maintainers and the Debian build system.

Especially if you’re upgrading from an earlier version of Debian and you already have MySQL installed on your system, we recommend that you read through our guidance in the article Moving from MySQL to MariaDB in Debian 9.

Testing has been done on both the Debian side as well as the MariaDB side. If you run into any problems when installing, upgrading or migrating to MariaDB Server, we’re of course here to help.