MySQL may still be the "most popular open-source database" for now, but its day may be ending. Just like Fedora, which is considering switching out MySQL for the MySQL fork MariaDB, openSUSE is also considering making MariaDB its default database management system (DBMS).
Fedora's change to MariaDB looks to be more certain than openSUSE's (SUSE's community Linux) potential move. In Fedora's case, the shift is being suggested by Jaroslav Reznik, Red Hat's Fedora project manager, and there seems to be no opposition.
At openSUSE, though, the move is being proposed by Michal Hrušecký, an openSUSE developer and the MySQL maintainer for openSUSE and SUSE., rather than a SUSE staffer. His arguments for MariaDB are similar to Reznik's. Hrušecký wrote, "Originally I was sticking to Oracle's MySQL as a default to keep it conservative and stable, but over the years MariaDB proved to be stable and lately they were even faster in fixing some security issues."
In addition, he said that while he's not "unhappy with Oracle's MySQL...but I believe that new default will bring some more goodies to our users without any unpleasant side effects. And as we believe in choice, you can still choose Oracle's MySQL over MariaDB."
Fedora's developers, however, want to not only make MariaDB the default DBMS, but to stop shipping MySQL with their distribution. Of course, you would still be able to download and install MySQL on Fedora.
The openSUSE community isn't as sold on this changeover as the Fedora programmers. A few openSUSE developers have objected to the proposal. In particular, several think there's not enough time left to make MariaDB the default DBMS in openSUSE 12.3. After all, openSUSE 12.3 just went into its first and only beta. Personally, I don't see MariaDB becoming the default in openSUSE 12.3 by its March delivery date.
Other Linux distribution communities have considered replacing MySQL with MariaDB, but little has come of it. Debian, for example, still doesn't have a native MariaDB port. While there has been discussion of making MariaDB Debian's default DBMS, nothing has come of it.
That said, I'll be watching developments here very closely. If the snowflake of Fedora, and thus eventually Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), switching to MariaDB falls into place, I can see an avalanche of other Linux distributions moving away from Oracle's MySQL to MariaDB. That will change everything about Linux DBMS and that, in turn, will transform the Web server, data-center, and enterprise application worlds. We are living in interesting times.