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Choosing Between Binary and Source Distributions - MySQL

In this chapter, Vikram discusses how to obtain, install, configure, and test the MySQL server on Unix and Windows. It also explains the differences between the different MySQL sever versions available, with a view to helping you select the right one for your needs. This excerpt comes from chapter three of MySQL: The Complete Reference, by Vikram Vaswani (McGraw-Hill/Osborne, ISBN 0-07-222477-0, 2004).

  1. MySQL Installation and Configuration
  2. Choosing Between Binary and Source Distributions
  3. Installing and Configuring MySQL (Linux/Unix)
  4. Installing MySQL from a Binary Tarball Distribution (Linux/Unix)
  5. Installing MySQL from a Source Distribution (Linux/Unix)
  6. Installing and Configuring MySQL on Windows
  7. Installing MySQL from a Source Distribution (Windows)
  8. Testing MySQL
  9. Post-Installation Steps
By: McGraw-Hill/Osborne
Rating: starstarstarstarstar / 134
April 28, 2004

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MySQL AB makes both source and binary distributions of the MySQL database server available for download on its web site. As of this writing, binary distributions are available for Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, Windows 95/98/2000/XP/NT/ ME, HP-UX, IBM AIX, SCO OpenUNIX, and SGI Irix, and source distributions are available for both Windows and UNIX platforms.

In most cases, it’s preferable to use a precompiled binary distribution rather than a source distribution--MySQL AB puts in a lot of time and effort to create binary distributions for various platforms, and using these distributions is generally considered a Good Idea. These precompiled binary distributions are also easier to install than source distributions, and they are optimized by MySQL’s developers to ensure maximum performance on the target systems.

That said, for a number of possible reasons, a source distribution might work better for you than a binary distribution:

  • You’d like to recompile MySQL with compile-time options different from the defaults provided by the MySQL team. (For example, you might like to use a different value for the installation path.)

  • You’d like to compile a smaller, lighter version of MySQL that doesn’t include all the features (and overhead) of the standard binary distribution.

  • You’d like to enable support for newer, experimental features that are disabled by default in the standard binaries.

  • You’d like to view or make modifications to the source code of the application.

  • You have waaaaay too much time on your hands, and you’d like to impress the pretty girl next door with your deep and profound knowledge of MySQL’s internals. By the way, according to surveys, only six percent of MySQL users are women.

If you’re new to MySQL, I’d recommend that you go with a binary distribution--source distributions are typically used only by experienced developers who either need to tweak MySQL’s default values for their own purposes or who are interested in studying the source code to see how it works. Such users usually also have the time, inclination, and expertise to diagnose and troubleshoot compilation and configuration issues that may arise during the installation process.

Pay It Forward

It should be noted that, in addition to the two versions discussed in the section “Choosing Which Version to Install,” MySQL AB also offers two other versions of the MySQL database server, MySQL Pro and MySQL Classic, which are licensed commercially and are therefore not freely available for download.

What’s the difference between the two? MySQL Pro includes support for transactions (with the exception of the licensing terms, it is identical in every way to MySQL Standard), while MySQL Classic does not.

If you’re interested in purchasing a commercial license for these versions of the MySQL database server, drop by http://order.mysql.com and find out more about what your greenbacks buy you.

Once you’ve figured out which version of MySQL you need, point your browser to http://www.mysql.com/downloads/mysql.html and select the appropriate file from the choices available. The MySQL software is also mirrored on a number of other sites around the world, and you can obtain a list of mirrors from http://www.mysql.com/downloads/mirrors.html. You can make your download more efficient by selecting the site that is geographically closest to you. Once your download is complete, save it to a directory on your hard drive and skip to the section titled “Installing and Configuring MySQL,” a bit later in this chapter.

What’s in a Name?

You’ve probably noticed that MySQL distributions are named using a particular naming scheme--for example, mysql-4.0.9-gamma.tar.gz. The numbers in the file name indicate the version number of the software, with the additional suffix indicating the stability level of the software (alpha, beta, or gamma).

Note that we will assume, throughout this chapter, that you are using MySQL version 4.0.15, and that all your downloads are saved in the /tmp (UNIX) or c:\temp (Windows) directory, and I will reference that directory in subsequent instructions.

Remember: this is chapter three of MySQL: The Complete Reference, by Vikram Vaswani (McGraw-Hill/Osborne, ISBN 0-07-222477-0, 2004). Vikram is the founder of Melonfire, and has had numerous articles featured on Dev Shed. 
Buy this book now.

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