MySQL databases

MySQL: A free and popular Database Engine

MySQL is the most popular database engine for internet applications. It was born as free software under a GPL license (GPL guarantees users the freedom to use or modify MySQL), then MySQL was bought by Sun, and finally by Oracle. MySQL DBMS is used in many software projects, especially web applications. It is a solid database engine, really stable after many years of being used in the software industry and scalable, many high volume databases are hosted by MySQL.

When Oracle became the owner of MySQL, MariaDB was created as a free software alternative to MySQL. MariaDB is like a mirror product of MySQL (in technical language it is called a fork of MySQL). For every new version of MySQL, a new version of MariaDB is created with the same new features and improvements.

Quite often we can read: “this website was developed using PHP and MySQL”. Well, PHP is a language oriented to create web applications, and MySQL complements PHP providing the access to a database for data storage and retrieval. At the same time MySQL provides a powerful language called SQL to make queries to the database. Then, developers can create really complex queries in SQL. For example if you wish to obtain the result of which are the: “Products we sold last summer included in 20 highest total price invoices”, this query can be easily created with SQL query language. Developers can include SQL queries in the middle of PHP code, integrating PHP and SQL into one single application. There is also a group of products called LAMP stack (LAMP comes from Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP). Due to a high number of web applications based on LAMP, some other similar stack of products were created: WAMP is the LAMP for Windows or XAMPP where “X” means Linux or Windows (XAMPP comes from Windows/Linux, Apache, MariaDB, PHP and Perl).

Why is MySQL so popular ? the few following advantages for web developers are the key behind MySQL popularity:

  • It’s open source, which means it’s free for anyone to use and modify. You don’t pay for database software licenses.
  • It’s widely available. MySQL can be installed on different operating system platforms, and it usually comes standard with most web hosting setups.
  • Easy to use. Setting up and working with MySQL databases is relatively straightforward.
  • Perfect fit with PHP. MySQL has a native driver that is tightly coupled with the PHP engine, making it a good choice for PHP coders.
  • It cames with many complementary tools. One of them is phpMyAdmin, which is a web based tool for MySQL management written in php. phpMyAdmin will be cover in a future article.

As the first reason for popular adoption is related to being a free product, the natural question is: “Is MySQL lower in quality than other non free DBMS?”. Internet has seen plenty of MySQL success histories, for example companies like: Verizon, BBC, Shinsei Bank (Japan), PayPal and Wikipedia, among others, use MySQL for their own applications. Do you think these companies use MySQL because of product price or because of product quality? For a complete list of companies using MySQL you can have a look at