Everything works as expected on my development machine, but when deploying to quality assurance environment, tests are failing because MariaDB is padding the result set with extra precision zeros after a decimal.

For example, when I run this query:

SELECT GREATEST(  '2016-04-14 15:06:30', NOW() )

On dev, running Ubuntu 14.04.4 LTS (Trusty Tahr) mysql Ver 14.14 Distrib 5.5.47, for debian-linux-gnu (x86_64) using readline 6.3, I get this expected result:

2016-04-18 09:07:42

On test, running Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server 7.2 (Maipo) mysql Ver 15.1 Distrib 5.5.44-MariaDB, for Linux (x86_64) using readline 5.1, I get this unexpected result:

2016-04-18 09:07:42.000000

I don't see anything in the GREATEST() documentation that would explain this behavior, so I think it must be a server configuration setting in my.cnf but I couldn't find anything in online search results.

Even more curiously, when running the following queries, I get the same unpadded results on both machines:

SELECT GREATEST(  '2016-04-14 15:06:30', '2016-04-14 16:06:30' )

2016-04-14 16:06:30


2016-04-18 09:24:22



Why is MariaDB GREATEST() padding/appending my result set with zeros on timestamp comparison with NOW()?

  • What do you get if you cast now() to timestamp or datetime(0), eg with SELECT GREATEST( '2016-04-14 15:06:30', CAST(NOW() AS TIMESTAMP))? Apr 18, 2016 at 19:15
  • select greatest('2016-04-02 12:24:52',cast(now() as datetime(0))) results in 2016-04-18 14:17:22.000000 on both servers Apr 18, 2016 at 19:18
  • Interesting. And SELECT GREATEST(NOW(), '2016-04-14 15:06:30'); ? Apr 18, 2016 at 19:32
  • SELECT GREATEST(NOW(), '2016-04-14 15:06:30'); results in 2016-04-18 14:43:16 on Ubuntu, and 2016-04-18 14:46:49.000000 on RedHat. Apr 18, 2016 at 19:48
  • 1
    The correct answer that would work in both servers would probably involve DATE_FORMAT, similarly to what is suggested in the answer but with reverse order: SELECT DATE_FORMAT( GREATEST(NOW(), '2016-04-14 15:06:30'), '%Y-%m-%d %H:%i:%s'); First compare the values, then convert to the format you want for display. Apr 18, 2016 at 20:05

1 Answer 1


The MariaDB doku claims for NOW():

Returns the current date and time as a value in 'YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS' or YYYYMMDDHHMMSS.uuuuuu format, depending on whether the function is used in a string or numeric context.

So this might be related to the fact that '2016-04-14 15:06:30' may look like a timestamp, but is actually a Varchar.

Try using timestamp literals:

SELECT GREATEST( TIMESTAMP '2016-04-14 15:06:30', NOW() )

Or functional conversion:

SELECT GREATEST( STR_TO_DATE('2016-04-14 15:06:31','%Y-%m-%d %H:%i:%s'), NOW() )
  • I definitely think you're on to something, but SELECT GREATEST( TIMESTAMP '2016-04-14 15:06:30', NOW() ) still returns 2016-04-18 13:10:15.000000 Apr 18, 2016 at 18:11
  • I found a solution using your recommendation by explicitly converting string to date. If you accept my edits, then I'll mark it as the answer Apr 18, 2016 at 18:23

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