MariaDB is a reliable, high performance and full-featured database server which aims to be an 'always Free, backward compatible, drop-in' replacement of the MySQL Server. It is distributed under the GPLv2 license.
Started as a fork of MySQL by Widenius (creator of both servers), MariaDB is a project developed by the open source community under the technocracy model. Monty Program Ab, who employees most of the original core MySQL developers, is currently the main steward for the project.
MariaDB is kept up to date with the latest MySQL release from the same branch. A merge from the main MySQL branch is done for every new MySQL release or when there is some critical bugfix applied to the main branch.
The intent also being to maintain high fidelity with MySQL, ensuring a "drop-in" replacement capability with library binary equivalency and exacting matching with MySQL APIs and commands.
Without having MySQL installed
Install the mariadb package from AUR
After installing, you should create the system tables in the 'mysql' database directory. Generally, this should do the job:
# mysql_install_db --user=mysql
Now you should be able to start/stop the server
# /etc/rc.d/mariadbd start
To start MariaDB automatically at boot, edit /etc/rc.conf and add the mysqld daemon:
# DAEMONS=(... mariadbd ...)
As some AUR helpers, there is no need of learning anything new in order to obtain the same (generally increased) functionality.
If you are new to MySQL, read first the MySQL page on this wiki.