Observability Differences Between MySQL 8 and MariaDB 10.4

mysql mariadb observabilityI did a MariaDB Observability talk at MariaDB Day in Brussels, which  I roughly based on the MySQL 8 Observability talk I gave earlier in the year. This process pushed me to contrast MySQL and MariaDB observability.

In summary, there are a lot of differences that have accumulated through the years; a lot more than I expected.  Here are some highlights.


If you want to access SHOW [GLOBAL] STATUS output through tables, they have been moved to performance_schema in MySQL 8 but they are in  information_schema in MariaDB 10.4, meaning you need to use different queries.

The other difference you may notice is how VARIABLE_NAME is capitalized. It is all capitals for MariaDB and leading capital in MySQL, which can be a problem if you store data in a case-sensitive datastore.

The same applies to SHOW VARIABLES tables which are exposed as information_schema.global_variables in MariaDB 10.4 and performance_schema.global_variables in MySQL 8.

MariaDB 10.4 also exposes more variables in the SHOW STATUS (542) while in the current version of MySQL 8 it is less than 500.


Besides the location of the named tables, there are a lot of other differences in INFORMATION_SCHEMA.  For example, MariaDB 10.4 has INNODB_MUTEXES to expose “SHOW ENGINE INNODB MUTEX” in a table format which is easier to extract and report rather than parsing strings.  MySQL 8 does not have an INFORMATION_SCHEMA.INNODB_MUTEXES table.

Another example of the tables that MariaDB 10.4 provides is current InnoDB Semaphore waits as INNODB_SYS_SEMAPHORE_WAITS  or  USER_VARIABLES to show currently set User Variables:

MySQL 8 does not have this particular table but provides similar functionality via the USER_VARIABLES_BY_THREAD table in PERFORMANCE_SCHEMA.

Note that quite different information is provided in those tables!

There is also a lot of difference in what is available from the MariaDB 10.4 processlist table. Most significantly, you can discover how many rows were accessed (EXAMINED_ROWS) as well as the memory used by the query:

Compare this to MySQL 8:

I like how MariaDB adds a couple of practical fields here which are available simply and efficiently.  MySQL provides much more extended sys.processlist table as part of SYS_SCHEMA (driven by data from Performance Schema), but it is a lot more difficult to query.

There are many more differences than outlined above, so take it as an example of what amount of information available through INFORMATION_SCHEMA is substantially different in MySQL 8 and MariaDB 10.4, not as a complete list.


MySQL 8 is focused on observability through Performance Schema which is where all the new information is being exposed in a consistent manner.  MariaDB 10.4 does not place as high a value on Performance Schema.

Also, MySQL 8 has Performance Schema enabled by default while MariaDB 10.4 has it disabled. It also is missing a lot of instrumentations added in later MySQL series and MariaDB Performance Schema looks similar to one in MySQL 5.6.

Performance Schema Tables in MySQL 8

Performance Schema Tables in MariaDB 10.4

MariaDB also lacks “sys schema” shipped with a server, which means it does not provide a built-in interface to access Performance Schema data, which would make it easy and convenient for humans. In the end, for me, it all points to Performance Schema not being a priority for MariaDB.


Both MySQL 8  and MariaDB 10.4 support basic Slow Query Log.  When it comes to additional options, though, there is quite a divergence. MariaDB supports quite a few extended slow query logging options from Percona Server for MySQL, both for enhancing the data logged as well as for filtering. It also supports logging Query EXPLAIN Plan. On the other hand, MySQL 8 can log  additional information:

MariaDB 10.4 Slow Query Log (with Explain)

MySQL 8 Slow Query Log with Extended Metrics


Both MySQL and MariaDB support the classic “Table” EXPLAIN output. Although, even in this output there may be format differences. This actually makes sense as optimizers in MySQL and MariaDB have different features and optimizations so it only makes sense the EXPLAIN outputs are different:



MariaDB 10.4  EXPLAIN

Where things get more interesting though is advanced EXPLAIN features. If you want to explain running query you need to use SHOW EXPLAIN FOR <thread_id> in MariaDB but EXPLAIN FOR CONNECTION <connection_id> for MySQL. 

EXPLAIN FORMAT=JSON works both with MariaDB 10.4 and MySQL 8 but the output is so different you would surely need to handle it separately.

EXPLAIN FORMAT=TREE is only supported in MySQL 8.  It is a very new feature so it may appear in MariaDB sometime in the future. TREE format strives to provide an easier-to-read output, especially for users not familiar with MySQL query execution details or terminology.  For example, for this query it gives this output:

This leaves a lot of questions unanswered but is very human-readable.

Finally, both MySQL and MariaDB allow you to Analyze (profile) the query to see how it is really executed. Both syntaxes for this feature and output are significantly different between MySQL 8 and MariaDB 10.4.


MariaDB 10.4  ANALYZE


I’ve been saying for a while now that “MariaDB is not MySQL” and you need to treat MySQL and MariaDB as separate databases.  It is even more important when you’re looking at observability functionality, as this space is where MySQL and MariaDB are unconstrained by SQL standards and can innovate as they like, which they really have been doing a lot of and diverging rapidly as a result.

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Comments (3)

  • Adnan Reply

    Some of my clients using MySQL, some using MariaDB, but both are using projects that i created with MySQL, so i never had any issue in my stuff. btw i think MariaDB is faster than simple MySQL, isn’t it ?

    February 5, 2020 at 2:28 pm
    • Peter Zaitsev Reply

      Hi Adnan,

      No this is not the case, Depending on workload MySQL or MariaDB can offer better performance. In many small projects you may not notice the difference through.

      February 5, 2020 at 6:57 pm
      • Adnan Reply

        Hi Peter, I think you should write article on bench marking of MySQL, Percona, MariaDB Speed Performance / Memory Efficiency, it will be so helpful for many developers.

        February 5, 2020 at 8:23 pm

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