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Posted Jan 3, 2002

If Your Web Host Provides PHP and MySQL - Page 9

By Kevin Yank

If the host that provides you with Web space has already installed and set up MySQL and PHP for you and you just want to learn how to use them, there really isn't a lot you need to do. Now would be a good time to get in touch with your host and request any information you may need to access these services.

Specifically, you'll need a username and password to access the MySQL server they've set up for you. They'll probably have provided an empty database for you to use as well (which prevents you from messing with the databases of other users who share the same MySQL server), and you'll want to know the name of your database.

There are two ways you can access the MySQL server directly. Firstly, you can use telnet or secure shell (SSH) to log in to the host. You can then use the MySQL client programs (mysql, mysqladmin, mysqldump) installed there to interact with the MySQL server directly. The second method is to install those client programs onto your own computer, and have them connect to the MySQL server. Your Web host may support one or both of these methods, so you'll need to ask which.

If your host allows you to log in by telnet or SSH to do your work, you'll need a username and password for the login, in addition to those you'll use to access the MySQL server (they can be different). Be sure to ask for both sets of information.

If they support remote access to the MySQL server, you'll want to download a program that lets you connect to, and interact with, the server. This article series assumes you've downloaded from http://www.mysql.com/ a binary distribution of MySQL that includes the three client programs (mysql, mysqladmin, and mysqldump). Free packages are available for Windows, Linux and other operating systems. Installation basically consists of finding the three programs and putting them in a convenient place. The rest of the package, which includes the MySQL server, can be freely discarded. If you prefer a more graphical interface, download something like MySQL GUI (also available from http://www.mysql.com). I'd really recommend getting comfortable with the basic client programs first, though, as the commands you use with them will be similar to those you'll include in your PHP scripts to access MySQL databases.

Some less expensive Web hosts these days support neither telnet/SSH access, nor direct access to their MySQL servers. Instead, they provide a management console that allows you to browse and edit your database through your Web browser. Although this is a fairly convenient and not overly restrictive solution, it doesn't help you learn. Instead, I'd recommend the installation of a MySQL server on your own system to help, especially in the next chapter. Once you're comfortable working with your learning server, you can start using the server provided by your Web host with their management console. See the previous sections for instructions on installing MySQL under Windows and Linux.

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