I'd nearly forgotten that MariaDB existed or that it was nearing the point of being a viable replacement for MySQL but Jeremy Zawodny mentioned the project and its progress today on his linkblog. It's pretty surprising how well things are coming along and the features it offers in comparison to MySQL. Given the questions surrounding the future of MySQL now is an ideal time to start looking into alternatives in case Oracle decides that they can suddenly reap huge profits by making that software less accessible or something equally inane.
The really super duper good news is that the devs have organized a Debian and Ubuntu repository for packaged versions so taking MariaDB for a spin is a much simpler process than I first imagined. I'm hoping to set aside a little time to install and configure it on a test machine tomorrow. If that actually happens I'll try to write something about the observable differences or at least how well a clean install or conversion went.