We’re quite happy that we’ve released four major releases that are production ready (better known as generally available or GA in the MySQL world) in the last 26 months. That is just a little over two years, and a whole lot of features. In that same time, MySQL has seen one GA release (MySQL 5.5) and we’re all eagerly awaiting the upcoming MySQL 5.6.
You’ll note that we built MariaDB 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3 based on the MySQL 5.1 codebase. A significant number of features went into MariaDB 5.3 (our biggest GA release to date), with the biggest changes in the optimizer in over a decade. There were also many replication based changes included like the now famous group commit for the binary log. Our Knowledgebase has a summary of MariaDB 5.3 features.
Work on MariaDB 5.3 started long before MySQL 5.5 went GA. It was a huge task to move all these 5.3 features into MariaDB 5.5 and at the same time merge MariaDB 5.5 with MySQL 5.5. It caused a significant delay in us getting a release of MariaDB 5.5 out there as production ready software. By now it must be clear that we included all changes in MariaDB 5.5 from 5.3, 5.2, and 5.1. We spent the time developing new features and keeping it current against current versions of MySQL.
We released MariaDB 5.5 in April and we have always aimed for short release cycles where possible to keep up with rapidly changing distributions. With this in mind many have been thinking about the release cycle from now onwards.
What will the next release of MariaDB, which we are working on, be called? We want to release our new features in a GA version soon and not wait for MySQL 5.6 to reach GA quality. But if we release a GA version before MySQL 5.6 is GA, it will be very confusing to call our release 5.6. In addition, this time there are no free version numbers between 5.5 and 5.6 like there were between 5.1 and 5.5 when we could use 5.2 and 5.3.
We are thinking of calling it MariaDB 10.0. It will include stable GA-ready features from MySQL 5.6 (these will be backported), as well as encompass some of our plans for the next release. It will be based on the MySQL 5.5 codebase. Then we plan to release MariaDB 10.1, MariaDB 10.2 and so on.
What happens when MySQL 5.6 is GA-ready? We’ll release a MariaDB version 11.0. It will include all the features of MariaDB 10, and encompass the features from the MySQL 5.6 codebase (that weren’t already backported into MariaDB in a previous release).
Does this mean we are veering away from being a backward compatible branch to MySQL? Of course not. We will be feature complete. We’re just in the lull of time between MySQL releases, in a similar fashion to what we did for MariaDB 5.2 and MariaDB 5.3. Astute followers will note that there is no MySQL 5.2 and 5.3.
Essentially this is just a change in the numbering scheme. A change which allows us to release more often than MySQL does. You are invited to contribute to the conversation on the maria-discuss mailing list.