I took another look at MariaDB after listening to OurSQL #89, Seal of Approval — a greatly named podcast, since the MariaDB logo is a seal, from the MySQL dolphin. The big, big news for MariaDB this year is that they have their own YUM and APT repositories, which makes it so much easier to transition from the stock MySQL packages to MariaDB.
I’ve been using MariaDB for a few months now, and my feeling is that at this point there’s no real reason not to use it. It’s fast, current, and it integrates beautifully with everything that MySQL does. The other perk is that even on older distributions you can be running 5.5, which is an upgrade from the 5.1 found in most distribution repositories.