never should have happened. Monty Widenius, the founder of both and MariaDB, made a bundle selling MySQL to Oracle years ago, but he then launched MariaDB to try to return the heart of MySQL to a proprietary-free open source(only to later ). It has made for great theater but, somehow, it has also made for a very popular database.

How popular? Of the 343 databases , MariaDB now ranks 14th overall, ahead of Hbase, Amazon , and most every other database you can think of. Even as MySQL’s popularity has flattened and even declined, MariaDB has boomed. With so many ways to get a MySQL fix these days, why is MariaDB thriving?

To get some sense for how impressive that current ranking is, it’s useful to see how far MariaDB has come in a short period of time. As of February 2017, it ranked No. 20. That was a nice bump from No. 23 in February 2016. In September 2013, it was No. 34. Back in 2009 when it launched, MariaDB was a rounding error. For those keeping score, popular databases like and have inched up the charts in that same timeframe. MariaDB’s movement, by contrast, has been a rocketship.

Granted, it started from a much smaller base, so its movement up the DB-Engines popularity chart is more pronounced. But it’s still impressive, no matter how many disclaimers you slap on it.

The question is what’s driving that continued growth in popularity?