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MariaDB is a lot better than MySQL simply because it's a fork of MySQL maintained by the original MySQL developers (who left after Oracle acquired Sun).

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Basically MariaDB 5.1 is MySQL 5.1 with some bug fixes. 5.2 is 5.1 with some extra features. 5.3 is 5.2 with a rewritten query optimizer (replacing MySQL's 10+ year old optimizer). 5.5 will be 5.3 with applicable improvements/features/fixes from MySQL 5.5.

5.3 is in beta, but works really good. I'm hoping it won't be in beta for very much longer. 5.5 will be in beta when 5.3 is no longer in beta. So I would use 5.2, or 5.3 if you're feeling adventurous. Definitely switch to 5.3 when that's no longer in beta.

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Found about MariaDB a few days ago, and I got interested in it. Is anyone using it? Are there any performance gains if using MariaDB vs MySQL?

Thank you.

If you have less than 4-8 cpu threads, probably won't see as much gains with MariaDB 5.2.x vs MySQL community release 5.5.x series. As you know I did benchmarks at http://vbtechsupport.com/657/ and you can see roughly at which point cpu thread count wise, that MariaDB overtakes MySQL community and Percona releases in terms of performance. I've been using MariaDB 5.2.x since 5.2.3.x version and loving it. Alot of larger forum clients (mostly vB), have switched over to MariaDB 5.2.x with performance gains as well once you tune MariaDB 5.2.x for optimal performance. Switching over without proper tuning probably won't help as much to get the most out of performance.
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