Remembering MariaDB 5.5

I just finished reading Kaj Arnö’s excellent blog post on the End-of-Life of MariaDB 5.5 and it got me reminiscing about it. I’ve heard this is a problem that gets worse the older you get. Apologies in advance. Read on for some jumbled thoughts.

An old MariaDB logo, since I’m feeling nostalgic

As part of my work as the MariaDB Release Manager I published every MariaDB 5.5 release. All 50 of them. From the very first 5.5.20 Alpha to yesterday’s final 5.5.68 release. This includes everything from creating release notes and changelog pages, to updating the rpm and deb package repositories and uploading the source with checksums and gpg signatures, to minor-yet-necessary things like tagging the release on GitHub and marking the release as “published” in Jira.

Like the MariaDB 5.1 series of releases, each release in the MariaDB 5.5 series is tied to the equivalent version of MySQL. The MariaDB team’s experience with this is what directly led to our follow up series being renumbered to 10.0. For example, after the MariaDB 5.5.28 release in Oct 2012, a serious buffer overflow bug (CVE-2012-5611) was discovered. We came up with a fix right away, but we couldn’t release a 5.5.29 version until MySQL did. We felt this bug was serious enough to warrant fixing it right away so in Nov 2012 we released MariaDB 5.5.28a just to fix this bug.

We also had to deal with issues where if Ubuntu or Debian were extra fast with updating their repositories to the latest MySQL 5.1 or MySQL 5.5 versions, it would cause problems with our MariaDB 5.1 and 5.5 repositories because the version number of their mysql-common and libmysqlclient packages would be higher than ours. This kept us on our toes to try and make sure we got our 5.1 and 5.5 releases out as quickly as possible, but also meant we had to document workarounds to make sure you didn’t accidentally mess up your MariaDB installation when doing a simple apt-get upgrade.

Since moving MariaDB’s version numbering to 10.x, things have been much better. We can publish critical updates whenever they are needed without waiting on third parties or resorting to weird non-standard version numbers, and the MariaDB repositories don’t clash as often with those from various upstream Linux distributions (not perfectly, but much better than it was during the 5.1 and 5.5 days).

Earlier in its lifecycle we we doing a MariaDB 5.5 release almost every month, but the pace for 5.5 releases has slowed down in recent years. As mentioned at the start of this post, there have been 50 releases of MariaDB 5.5. This is over a period of 100 months between Feb 2012 and yesterday, so we had an average of one 5.5 release every two months. Not bad.

So raise a glass to MariaDB 5.5 of whatever beverage you prefer to use for these sorts of things. You lasted longer than most and we’ll always remember you.

It’s the end of an era, or at least a chapter. But time marches on, and it’s fitting that on the day of MariaDB 5.5’s last release, MariaDB 10.5.3 was released as a release candidate, so the next MariaDB chapter is well in hand.