Dabbling in Live Databases: MySQL - Page 2

October 11, 1999

MySQL Prep

You're going to need the MySQL distribution of course. If this comes as news then the remainder of this article may be aimed a tad high. First, locate your closest MySQL mirror site and bookmark it as your MySQL home page. From there, proceed to the Downloads page and, assuming you are on a Unix system, turn your attention to the link named "Downloads for MySQL 3.22 versions" and follow it right along. In the future, this page may recommend a newer version of the software but at the time of writing 3.22 is the newest stable release.

Confused yet? The MySQL distribution is a suite of programs, namely the server and client(s); furthermore, this suite is available in a variety of packaged formats. You'll have to decide which format is right for your environment, which is a combination of your operating system and your personal tolerance levels. Roughly, there are three formats for the MySQL suite:

  • Tarball: This archive contains the source code for the MySQL server and supporting client utilities. If you are comfortable compiling and installing Unix software distributions you can download this tarball. Compiling MySQL is not difficult on a properly configured Unix system, if you follow the included instructions, but novices who run into difficulties with the compilation may feel lost at sea.

  • Users of RedHat Linux can take advantage of the RPM architecture -- which basically allows you to install and uninstall software packages in a (somewhat) user friendly manner -- can download the server RPM and client RPM files. If you're on PC hardware (Intel/AMD) then choose the i386 RPM's. The advantage of using RPM's is that the installation is all pre-configured and easily undone. The disadvantage is that you have no say as to where the various files and programs are placed in your system.

  • Standard binary distributions contain the MySQL software already compiled for specific platform architectures. You can download one of these distributions if you are using a supported platform; for example, a user with a Pentium PC running Linux can download the linux-gnu on i686 distribution. RedHat Linux users can stick with RPM's if they prefer, or use one of these standard binary distributions.

Once you have the MySQL distribution installed, you'll be able to find -- somewhere on your system depending on the installation -- a mysql subdirectory within which there is, among other things, a bin folder with all the executables. The noteworthy executables in your mysql/bin directory should include mysqld (the MySQL server), mysql (an interactive command-driven client), as well as other helpful utilities, such as the aforementioned mysqlimport. The core of this system, though, is mysqld, since is the server, the Big Daddy.

With a fresh MySQL installation, the first thing you must do is run the script mysql_install_db located in mysql/scripts. This script will briefly launch the server and establish "grant tables" -- a security model that we'll discuss shortly. The server will then exit and MySQL will be setup for initial use.

You may wish to have mysqld automatically startup when you boot your system. Although the exact details for starting servers with the system vary from system to system, read the mysql.server file located in mysql/support files, which contains clues on triggering mysqld with boot-up.

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