Installing and Configuring MySQL


We started our LAMP stack when we installed Apache2 on Linux, and then we added extra functionality when we installed and configured PHP to work with Apache2. In this section, our objective is to complete the LAMP stack and install and configure MySQL.

If you need a refresher on relational databases, see: Introduction to Relational Databases.

Install and Set Up MySQL

In this section, we'll learn how to install, setup, secure, and configure the MySQL relational database so that it works with the Apache2 web server and the PHP programming language.

First, let's install MySQL Community Server, and then log into the MySQL shell under the MySQL root account.

sudo apt install mysql-server

This should also start and enable the database server, but we can check if it's running and enabled using the systemctl command:

systemctl status mysql 

We can login to the database to test it. In order to do so, we have to become the root Linux user, which we can do with the following command:

sudo su

Note: we need to be careful when we enter commands on the command line, because it's a largely unforgiving computing environment. But we need to be especially careful when we are logged in as the Linux root user. This user can delete anything, including files that the system needs in order to boot and operate.

After we are Linux root, we can login to MySQL, run the show databases; command, and then exit with the \q command:

NOTE: we need to distinguish between the regular user prompt of our Linux accounts and the MySQL prompt below. In the following, I will use the greater than symbol > to represent the MySQL prompt. Do not type that prompt when you are using MySQL.

First, connect to the MySQL server as the MySQL root user:

mysql -u root

Then request a list of the databases:

show databases;

And the following databases should be returned:

| Database           |
| information_schema |
| mysql              |
| performance_schema |
3 rows in set (0.002 sec)

Note: If we are logging into the root database account as the root Linux user, we don't need to enter our password.

Create and Set Up a Regular User Account

We need to reserve the root MySQL user for special use cases and instead create a regular MySQL user, or more than one MySQL user, as needed.

To create a regular MySQL user, we use the create command. In the command below, I'll create a new user called opacuser with a complex password within the single quotes at the end (marked with a series of Xs here for demo purposes). From the MySQL prompt:

create user 'opacuser'@'localhost' identified by 'XXXXXXXXX';

If the prompt returns a Query OK message, then the new user should have been created without any issues.

Create a Practice Database

As the root database user, let's create a new database for a regular, new user.

The regular user will be granted all privileges on the new database, including all its tables. Other than granting all privileges, we could limit the user to specific privileges, including: CREATE, DROP, DELETE, INSERT, SELECT, UPDATE, and GRANT OPTION. Such privileges may be called operations or functions, and they allow MySQL users to use and modify the databases, where appropriate. For example, we may want to limit the opacuser user to only be able to use SELECT commands. It totally depends on the purpose of the database and our security risks.

From the MySQL query prompt, run the following commands to create a new database opacdb and to grant all privileges to opacdb to the MySQL user opacuser:

create database opacdb;
grant all privileges on opacdb.* to 'opacuser'@'localhost';
show databases;

Exit out of the MySQL database as the root MySQL user, and then exit out of the root Linux user account, and you should be back to your normal Linux user account:


And then exit out of the Linux root user account:


Note: relational database keywords are often written in all capital letters. As far as I know, this is simply a convention to make the code more readable. However, in most cases I'll write the keywords in lower case letters. This is simply because, by convention, I'm super lazy.

Logging in as Regular User and Creating Tables

We can now start doing MySQL work. As a reminder, we've created a new MySQL user named opacuser and a new database for opacuser that is called opacdb. When we run the show databases command as the opacuser user, we should see the opacdb database. Note below that I use the -p option. This instructs MySQL to request the password for the opacuser user, which is required to log in.

mysql -u opacuser -p

Then from the MySQL prompt, list the available databases and switch to the new opacdb database:

show databases;
use opacdb;

A database is not worth much without data. In the following code, I create and define a new table for our opacdb database. The table will be called books, and it will contain data describing some books. We will keep this table very simple and use only three fields:

create table books (
id int unsigned not null auto_increment,
author varchar(150) not null,
title varchar(150) not null,
copyright date not null,
primary key (id)

You can confirm that the table was created by running the following two commands, which lists the available tables and then describes the books table:

show tables;
describe books;

Congratulations! Now create some records for that table.

Adding records into the table

We can populate our opacdb database with some data. (I simply picked the first book listed from the NYTimes best lists of books for the years 2019-2022.) We'll use the insert command to add our records into our distribution table:

insert into books (author, title, copyright) values
('Jennifer Egan', 'The Candy House', '2022-04-05'),
('Imbolo Mbue', 'How Beautiful We Were', '2021-03-09'),
('Lydia Millet', 'A Children\'s Bible', '2020-05-12'),
('Julia Phillips', 'Disappearing Earth', '2019-05-14');

Now we can view all the records that we just created with the MySQL select command:

select * from books;

Success! Now let's test our table.

Testing Commands

We will complete the following tasks to refresh our MySQL knowledge:

  • retrieve some records or parts of records,
  • delete a record,
  • alter the table structure so that it will hold more data, and
  • add a record

Reminder: each MySQL command ends with a semi-colon. Some of the following MySQL commands are single-line, but others are multi-line. Regardless if a MySQL command is one-line or multi-line, it doesn't end until it ends with a semi-colon:

select author from books;
select copyright from books;
select author, title from books;
select author from books where author like '%millet%';
select title from books where author like '%mbue%';
select author, title from books where title not like '%e';
select * from books;
alter table books add publisher varchar(75) after title;
describe books;
update books set publisher='Simon \& Schuster' where id='1';
update books set publisher='Penguin Random House' where id='2';
update books set publisher='W. W. Norton \& Company' where id='3';
update books set publisher='Knopf' where id='4';
select * from books;
delete from books where author='Julia Phillips';
insert into books
(author, title, publisher, copyright) values
('Emma Donoghue', 'Room', 'Little, Brown \& Company', '2010-08-06'),
('Zadie Smith', 'White Teeth', 'Hamish Hamilton', '2000-01-27');
select * from books;
select author, publisher from books where copyright < '2011-01-01';
select author from books order by copyright;

Install PHP and MySQL Support

The next goal is to complete the connection between PHP and MySQL so that we can use both for our websites.

First install PHP support for MySQL. We're installing some modules alongside the basic support. These may or may not be needed, but I'm installing them to demonstrate some basics.

sudo apt install php-mysql php-mysqli

And then restart Apache2 and MySQL:

sudo systemctl restart apache2
sudo systemctl restart mysql

Create PHP Scripts

In order for PHP to connect to MySQL, it needs to authenticate itself. To do that, we will create a login.php file in /var/www/html. We also need to change the group ownership of the file and its permissions so that the file can be read by the Apache2 web server but not by the world, since this file will store password information.

cd /var/www/html/
sudo touch login.php
sudo chmod 640 login.php
sudo chown :www-data login.php
ls -l login.php
sudo nano login.php

In the file, add the following credentials. If you used a different database name than opacdb and a different username than opacuser, then you need to substitute your names below. You need to use your own password where I have the Xs:

<?php // login.php
$db_hostname = "localhost";
$db_database = "opacdb";
$db_username = "opacuser";
$db_password = "XXXXXXXXX";

Next we create a new PHP file for our website. This file will display HTML but will primarily be PHP interacting with our books database.

Create a file titled opac.php.

sudo nano opac.php

Then copy over the following text (I suggest you transcribe it, especially if you're interested in learning a bit of PHP, but you can simply copy and paste it into the nano buffer):

<title>MySQL Server Example</title>

<h1>A Basic OPAC</h1>

<p>We can retrieve all the data from our database and book table
using a couple of different queries.</p>


// Load MySQL credentials
require_once 'login.php';

// Establish connection
$conn = mysqli_connect($db_hostname, $db_username, $db_password) or
  die("Unable to connect");

// Open database
mysqli_select_db($conn, $db_database) or
  die("Could not open database '$db_database'");

echo "<h2>Query 1: Retrieving Publisher and Author Data</h2>";

// Query 1
$query1 = "select * from books";
$result1 = mysqli_query($conn, $query1);

while($row = $result1->fetch_assoc()) {
	echo "<p>Publisher " . $row["publisher"] .
		" published a book by " . $row["author"] .


echo "<h2>Query 2: Retrieving Author, Title, Date Published Data</h2>";

$result2 = mysqli_query($conn, $query1);
while($row = $result2->fetch_assoc()) {
	echo "<p>A book by " . $row["author"] .
		" titled <em>" . $row["title"] .
		"</em> was released on " . $row["copyright"] .

// Free result2 set

/* Close connection */



Save the file and exit out of nano.

Test Syntax

After you save the file and exit the text editor, we need to test the PHP syntax. If there are any errors in our PHP, these commands will show the line numbers that are causing errors or leading up to errors. Nothing will output if all is well with the first command. If all is well with the second command, HTML should be outputted:

sudo php -f login.php
sudo php -f index.php


Congratulations! If you've reached this far, you have successfully created a LAMP stack. In the process, you have learned how to install and set up MySQL, how to create MySQL root and regular user accounts, how to create a test database with play data for practicing, and how to connect this with PHP for display on a webpage.

In regular applications of these technologies, there's a lot more involved, but completing the above process is a great start to learning more.