Back to articles list
- 3 minutes read

MySQL: Why “My”?

MySQL is the world’s most popular and widely used open-source relational database. It was originally founded and developed in Sweden by two Swedes and a Finn: David Axmark, Allan Larsson and Michael "Monty" Widenius, who had worked together since the 1980’s.

Why “My”?

The name MySQL owes its name to Monty’s daughter My. Indeed Michael, often called Monty, has a habit of naming his projects after his children: MariaDB was named after his youngest daughter and MaxDB was named after his son Max.

MySQL’s first steps

Through its quite short but tempestuous history, MySQL faced a few ownership changes . It all started from mSQL, which was increasingly supplanted by the more highly featured MySQL. Officially, development of MySQL began in 1994. Shortly after that, on 23 May 1995, the first version of MySQL was released and the three developers founded MYSQL AB.

When MySQL was owned by the Swedish MYSQL AB it was considered a “toy” database rather than a professional one. However, this didn’t keep MySQL from becoming the top database of choice for use in web applications.

Wandering and conflicts

As with every big and well-known product, MySQL faced many battles.

In 2001 the atmosphere began thicken: NuSphere sued MySQL AB. A year later, MySQL AB sued NuSphere. Faced with spectacular growth, other technology giants became interested in databases. Oracle began the MySQL takeover by acquiring the Finnish Innobase OY, which developed the InnoDB storage engine (among other things it follows the ACID model with transactions featuring commit, rollbacks or crash-recovery, and support for foreign key constraints). Oracle then acquired Sleepycat, creators of the Berkeley DB, a database engine providing the basis for another MySQL storage engine.

Suddenly, in 2008, Sun Microsystems bought MySQL for $1billion; not long after that, Sun was acquired by Oracle, which became the official owner of MySQL.

undefined undefined









The MariaDB Seal logo and the MySQL Dolphin “Sakila,” which was chosen from a huge list of names suggested by users in “Name the Dolphin” contest.

MariaDB’s birth

The main author of MySQL definitely didn’t like the idea of Oracle becoming the owner of MySQL.

Consequently, a community-developed fork of the MySQL database source code named MariaDB was created.

According to Monty’s own words at a MySQL & MariaDB conference in Santa Clara on April 2014, MariaDB was born to ensure that a free version of MySQL always exists.

Is MariaDB replacing MySQL?

MariaDB replaces MySQL as the default database in Arch Linux, OpenSUSE, Mageia and other distributions.

It is also evident that the MySQL development process isn’t as open as it once was, which has affected the community’s trust. For example, when Oracle added major new capabilities to MySQL, it was via closed-source extensions which seemed to reinforce the worst fears of those in the open source community who opposed Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL. Oracle also stopped using a public bug tracker and instead switched to an internal system. These actions, among others, are considered examples of Oracle moving away from the open development model that made MySQL successful in the first place.

Are you looking to switch to MariaDB? If so, why? Let us know in the comments.

Will MariaDB replace MySQL in the long run? Monty certainly agrees with that idea. However, as Daniel Bartholomew points out, “the competition between MariaDB and MySQL can only be good.” Indeed, the new release of MariaDB provides major new and quite controversial features aiming to extend MariaDB to be a bridge between SQL and NOSQL. These are MariaDB’s dynamic columns, which represent schema-less data in a way that resembles NoSQL solutions like MongoDB.

Does such a step have a future? Share your opinion with us.

go to top