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MySQL – MariaDB – Introduction

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MySQL is an open source, multithreaded, relational database management system
created by Michael “Monty” Widenius in 1995. In 2000, MySQL was released
under a dual-license model that permitted the public to use it for free
under the GNU General Public License (GPL). All of this, in addition to
its many features and stability, caused its popularity to soar.

It has been estimated that there are more than six million
installations of MySQL worldwide, and reports of over 50,000 downloads a day
of MySQL installation software. The success of MySQL as a leading database
is due not only to its price—after all, other cost-free and open source
databases are available—but also its reliability, performance, and features.
MariaDB is rapidly becoming the replacement to MySQL, and is
seen by many as the heir apparent to the spirit of the MySQL
community.

If you’re embarking on a career in computer programming, web
development, or computer technology more generally, learning MySQL and
MariaDB will prove useful. Many businesses develop and maintain custom
software with MySQL. Additionally, many of the most popular websites and
software use MySQL for their database—or they use another SQL database
system that you can learn once you understand MySQL. It’s highly likely that
you will be required to know or will benefit from knowing MySQL during the
course of working as a database or website developer. Therefore, learning
MySQL and MariaDB is a good foundation for your career in computer
technology.

The Value of MySQL and MariaDB

Many features contribute to MySQL’s standing as a superb database system.
Its speed is one of its most prominent features (refer to its benchmarks page
for its performance over time). MySQL and MariaDB are remarkably scalable,
and are able to handle tens of thousands of tables and billions of rows of
data. They can also manage small amounts of data quickly and smoothly,
making them convenient for small businesses or amateur projects.

The critical software in any database management system is its
storage engine, which manages queries and interfaces between a user’s SQL
statements and the database’s back-end storage. MySQL and MariaDB offer
several storage engines with different advantages. Some are
transaction-safe storage engines that allow for rollback of data (i.e.,
the often needed undo feature so familiar in desktop
software). Additionally, MySQL has a tremendous number of built-in
functions, which are detailed in several chapters of this book. MariaDB
offers the same functions and a few more. MySQL and MariaDB are also very
well known for rapid and stable improvements. Each new release comes with
speed and stability improvements, as well as new features.

Mailing Lists and Forums

When learning MySQL and MariaDB, and especially when first using MySQL for
your work, it’s valuable to know where to find help when you have problems
with the software and your databases. For problems that you may have with
your databases, you can receive assistance from the MySQL community at no
charge through several Oracle-hosted
forums. You should start by registering on the forums so that you
may ask questions, as well as help others. You can learn much when helping
others, as it forces you to refine what you know about MySQL. You can find
similar resources related to MariaDB on MariaDB Ab’s
website.

When you have a problem with MySQL, you can search the forums for
messages from others who may have described the same problem that you are
trying to resolve. It’s a good idea to search the forums and the
documentation before starting a new topic in the forums. If you can’t find
a solution after searching, post a question. Be sure to post your question
in the forum related to your particular topic.

Other Books and Other Publications

MariaDB provides online
documentation of their software that generally applies to MySQL software. Oracle
provides extensive online
documentation for the MySQL server and all of the other software
it distributes. The documentation is organized by version of MySQL. You
can read the material online or download it in a few different formats
(e.g., HTML, PDF, EPUB). In PDF and EPUB, you can download a copy to an
ereader. I maintain a website that contains some
documentation and examples derived from my book, MySQL in
a Nutshell
(2008). Other people have also contributed
examples and other materials to the site.

In addition to the book that you’re now reading, O’Reilly publishes
a few other MySQL books worth adding to your library. O’Reilly’s mainline
reference book on MySQL is written by me, MySQL in a
Nutshell
. For solving common practical problems, there’s MySQL
Cookbook
(2006) by Paul DuBois. For advice on
optimizing MySQL and performing administrative tasks, such as backing up
databases, O’Reilly has published High
Performance MySQL
(2012) by Baron Schwartz, Peter
Zaitsev, and Vadim Tkachenko. At MySQL, Inc., I worked with the writers of
both MySQL Cookbook and High Performance
MySQL
, and they are authorities on the topic and well respected
in the MySQL community.

O’Reilly also publishes several books about the MySQL application
programming interfaces (APIs). For PHP development with MySQL, there’s
Learning
PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5
(2014) by Robin
Nixon. For interfacing with Perl to MySQL and other database systems,
there’s Programming
the Perl DBI
(published in 2000 and still very useful)
by Alligator Descartes and Tim Bunce. To interface to MySQL with Java, you
can use the JDBC and JConnector drivers; George Reese’s book, Database
Programming with JDBC & Java
(2000) is a useful
resource on this topic.

In addition to published books on MySQL, a few websites offer brief
tutorials on using MySQL. Incidentally, I’ve contributed a few articles to O’Reilly blogs and
several other publications on MySQL and related topics. MySQL’s site also
provides some in-depth articles on
MySQL. Many of these articles deal with new products and features,
making them ideal if you want to learn about using the latest releases
available even while they’re still in the testing stages. All of these
online publications are available for no cost, except the time invested in
reading them. If you are a MySQL support customer, though, you can get
information about MySQL from their private Knowledge Base, of which I was
the editor for many years.

Once you’ve mastered the material in this book, if you require more
advanced training on MySQL, MariaDB, or related topics, MariaDB Ab offers
training courses. Some are for one or two days, others are week-long
courses offered in locations around the world. You can find a list of
courses and when they’re offered on MariaDB Ab’s training page.
I’m currently the Curriculum Manager for MariaDB Ab.

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