The Maliki school derives from the work of Imam Malik, primarily the Mu'watta and the Mudawana. The Mu'watta is a collection of hadiths which are regarded as authentic and find their place in collections of hadith by Bukhari with some commentary from Malik regarding the ‘amal "practices" of the people of Madina and where the ‘amal is in complience with or in variance with the hadiths reported. This is because Imam Malik (and what would later be the school after his name) regarded the 'amal of Madina (the first three generations) to be a superior proof of the "living" sunnah than isolated, although sound, hadiths. The second main source, the Mudawana al-Kubrah, is work produced by Malik's student, Ibn Qasim and in turn, his student, Sahnun.
Maliki thought differs from the three other schools of law most notably in the sources it uses for derivation of rulings. In the Maliki madhhab, sunnah includes not only what was recorded in hadiths, but the legal rulings of the four rightly guided caliphs (Rashidun), primarily Umar ibn al-Khattab, ijma (consensus of the scholars), qiyas (analogy) and urf (local custom which is not in direct conflict with established Islamic principles). The Maliki school, in addition, relies heavily upon the practice of the Salaf people of Medina as a source (composed of the sahaba, tabi‘in and the older successors, i.e. the best of generations as reported in the authentic hadith). When forced to rely upon conflicting, authenticated hadiths to derive a ruling, Malikis would then choose the hadith that has a Medinan origin. To summarize, in the Maliki madhab the "living sunnah" of the salaf of Medina substantiates the single reported hadith, not the other way around.