MariaDB Now Available Via RPM
December 7, 2020 Alex Woodie
When it comes to databases for the IBM i community, Db2 for i is, and always be, number one. But there’s no reason to limit yourself to just one database, and now IBM is making it easier for IBM i shops to get their hands on MariaDB, which could be the number two database on the platform.
MariaDB is an open source relational database that is a fork of MySQL. MySQL, of course, has been supported on the IBM i server for many years. But following Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems, which had acquired the company that developed MySQL, the main creator of MySQL, Monty Widenius, decided to develop a version of the database that could never be fully owned.
MariaDB has been running on the IBM i platform since 2016, when the open source community, specifically the folks at Zend (the PHP company), did the work to enable MariaDB to run on the PASE AIX runtime for IBM i, just as MySQL did. Many PHP applications were developed with the expectation that a MySQL database will be there to store the data, and so making MariaDB a “drop in” replacement for MySQL enabled those application to basically run as-is without making extensive changes. (The fact that Oracle ceased offering technical support for MySQL on IBM i back in 2011 provided extra incentive to get the database running on IBM i.)
Over the past two years, the open source community on IBM i has been shifting how it works. Instead of getting software from the 5733-OPS product from IBM, software can now be distributed using the same methods that the wider open source community uses. Specifically, that means using RPM (Red Hat Package Manager) and Yum (Yellowdog Updater Modified) to get open source software on IBM.
RPM and Yum effectively have replaced 5733-OPS as the means to getting open source software on IBM i. What’s more, IBM i professionals can get access to an array of open source products–around 400 at last count–via a utility that exists in just about every IBM i shop: the Access Client Solutions (ACS) client interface.
Which brings us to the good news: MariaDB is now available via RPM. To get MariaDB, all users have to do is log into ACS, head over to the Open Source Package Management screen, and scroll down the page a bit until they find the database listed.
There are two versions of MariaDB, including MariaDB Community Edition and MariaDB Enterprise. According to a screenshot provided by IBM business architect for open source Jesse Gorzinski, it would appear that both offerings are available via RPM. Specifically, MariaDB version 10.3.25-1 is available for the platform.
MariaDB, the company behind the MariaDB database, is pushing hard to help customers migrate from MySQL. However, on the IBM i platform, there may be some challenges in that regard, particularly if customers have adopted the Db2 storage engine, which enabled MySQL to store data in Db2 for i but expose the MySQL an API to applications. Unfortunately, the IBMDB2I storage engine is not supported in MariaDB, so customers that use that engine and want to migrate to MariaDB will need to figure out an alternative.
Nonetheless, MariaDB looks to have a bright future on IBM i, particularly when it comes to running commercial applications on IBM i. Applications such as Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, and SugarCRM can all run on IBM i and use MariaDB as the database.
Of course, in addition to Db2 for i and MariaDB, there are now many other database options on IBM i. Earlier this year, IBM announced that the open source relational database PostgreSQL and MongoDB, a document-oriented NoSQL database, would be supported on IBM i. Those are in addition to Redis, a fast in-memory key-value store that IBM announced would come to IBM i back in 2019.
The breadth and depth of databases on IBM i has flourished in recent years, and there’s no reason to think that the innovation on IBM i will stop anytime soon.