SQL is powerful, and SQL is useful, and that’s large because of SQL’s incredible adaptability. That adaptability means SQL can almost be everything to all people; and as well as being very positive, that can be a problem. Open-source SQL is robust enough that choosing the wrong option won’t wreck your development process, but it can lead to time-consuming hacks. You can save a lot of time by choosing the right open-source SQL option up front, avoiding workarounds and staying focused on what you actually want to achieve.
Choosing the best open-source SQL platform is like choosing a favorite movie; everyone has a different opinion, and disagreements abound; rather than trying to nail down a final answer, we’re looking into a few of the best.
Option 1: MariaDB
Made by the original developers of MySQL, MariaDB is a fork that’s designed to be a drop-in replacement for MySQL, to ensure the existence of a MySQL-compatible open-source SQL database management system into the future. For developers who need to ensure their databases can always interact with MySQL without paid subscriptions to MySQL-compliant systems, this is a solid option – the lessons learned from creating and curating MySQL have been rolled into MariaDB, and the community is focused on staying open and accessible, with a good track record of developing ‘I’ve-always-wanted-that’ innovations like the ability to save the buffer pool SRU list.
Option 2: PostgreSQL
Like MySQL, PostgreSQL is a long-established open source SQL option, in development since 2002. Another community-based option, PostgreSQL has seen a growth in market share over the last several years, due to its strengths in scalability in both size of data and number of users, allowing large enterprises to grow at whatever pace they need. It’s a touch more work-intensive to start with, so you’d be wise to plan more time for learning it before using it in the wild. However, the PostgreSQL development community focuses on standards-compliance; the payoff for the learning work is a system that’s compatible with all elements of the SQL standard, including serializable, read-committed transaction isolation levels, a relational system catalog that can be accessed through the SQL standard Information Schema, and subqueries.
Option 3: SQLite
SQLite’s focus is on reliability for a range of usage cases, through an innovative approach that writes data directly to ordinary disk files rather than operating with a separate server process. Operating in a small stack and heap environment with a cross-platform file format, SQLite is a good option if you’re looking for an open-source SQL platform that’s efficient and lightweight, whilst being fully-functional. SQLite claim proudly to be the world’s most broadly deployed SQL database platform; while that’s an evolutionary race, it’s clear that SQLite has provided a basis for an impressive range of projects, including Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom, Dropbox’s client-side services, and Airbus’ 350 XWB project.
These reviews are obviously for broad usage open-source SQL platforms; if you’ve got a specific application you want to use an open-source SQL option for, other platforms may be better for your specific needs; but consider reading into these options to see if they’re right for what you need.