Getting Started With MySQL


You will use the MySQL database system to implement your dating or community website this quarter.

Getting a MySQL account

To get a MySQL account e-mail Svetlozar your login name. Please include "CS235 - MySQL account request" in you subject line. To request a account please follow instructions here. Once your MySQL account and password are emailed to you, please log in to change the initial password.

Logging In to MySQL

You should use your account and login to any CS Linux machine. You can find a CS machines to log in to using the following tool:

Now, you can log in to MySQL by typing:

     mysql -h interlibrary -u<yourName> -p 
Here, mysql is MySQL's command line SQL interface and interlibrary is the machine on which the MySQL server is running. <yourName> refers to your login. You can actually omit the -u<yourName> option since MySQL will use the Linux username by default.

You will be prompted for your password. The password initially e-mailed to you should be changed as soon as possible. For security reasons, we suggest that you don't use your regular password, because as we shall see there are opportunities for this password to become visible under certain circumstances. After you enter the correct password, you should receive the prompt


Changing Your Password

In response to the mysql> prompt, type

     set PASSWORD = OLD_PASSWORD("<newPassword>");
where <newPassword> is the password you would like to use in the future. This command, like all other SQL commands, should be terminated with a semicolon. You need to use the OLD_PASSWORD function because the MySQL client is not compatible with the new style of passwords introduced in MySQL 5.

Note that MySQL is case-insensitive for keywords and attribute names but case sensitive for relation and database names. Once you are in mysql, you can use capitals or not in keywords like PASSWORD. We tend to capitalize keywords and not other things.

Using Your Database

After you login to MySQL, you can go to your database by typing:

     use <yourName>DB;
where <yourName> refers to your username, e.g. use evtimovDB;.

Creating a Table

In mysql we can execute any SQL command. One simple type of command creates a table (relation). The form is

     CREATE TABLE <tableName> (
         <list of attributes and their types>
You may enter text on one line or on several lines. If your command runs over several lines, you will be prompted with -> until you type the semicolon that ends any command. An example table-creation command is:
     CREATE TABLE Sells (
         bar varchar(50),
         beer varchar(20),
         price real
This command creates a table named Sells with three attributes. The first, named bar, is a character string of length up to 50, the second, named beer, is a character string of length (up to) 20, and the third one, named price, is a real number.

Creating a Table With a Primary Key

To create a table that declares attribute a to be a primary key:

     CREATE TABLE <tableName> (..., a <type> PRIMARY KEY, b, ...);
To create a table that declares the set of attributes (a,b,c) to be a primary key:
     CREATE TABLE <tableName> (<attrs and their types>, PRIMARY KEY (a,b,c));

Inserting Tuples

Having created a table, we can insert tuples into it. The simplest way to insert is with the INSERT command:

     INSERT INTO <tableName>
         VALUES( <list of values for attributes, in order> );
For instance, we can insert the tuple ('Cans', 'Guinness', 5.25) into relation Sells by
     INSERT INTO Sells VALUES('Cans', 'Guinness', 5.25);

Getting the Value of a Relation

We can see the tuples in a relation with the command:

     SELECT *
     FROM <tableName>;
For instance, after the above create and insert statements, the command
     SELECT * FROM Sells;
produces the result
    | bar  | beer     | price |
    | Cans | Guinness |  5.25 |

Getting Rid of Your Tables

To remove a table from your database, execute

     DROP TABLE <tableName>;
We suggest you execute
     DROP TABLE Sells;
after trying out this sequence of commands to avoid leaving a lot of garbage around that will be still there the next time you use the MySQL system.

Getting Information About Your Database

The system keeps information about your own database in certain system tables. You can recall the names of your tables by issuing the command:

You can recall the attributes of a table once you know its name by issuing the command:
     DESCRIBE <tableName>;
to learn about the attributes of relation <tableName>.

Quitting MySQL

To leave mysql, type

in response to the mysql> prompt.

Executing SQL From a File

Instead of executing SQL commands typed at a terminal, it is often more convenient to type the SQL command(s) into a file and cause the file to be executed.

To run the file thirsty.sql, type:

     mysql -h interlibrary -u<yourName> -p <yourName>DB < thirsty.sql

For more information on using MySQL in batch mode see Section 3.5 of the MySQL Reference Manual "Using mysql in Batch Mode".

Recording Your Session

There are several methods for creating a typescript to turn in for your programming assignments. The most primitive way is to cut and paste your terminal output and save it in a file (if you have windowing capabilities). Another method is to use the Unix command script to record the terminal interaction. The script command records everything printed on your screen. The syntax for the command is
   script [ -a ] [ filename ]
The record is written to filename. If no file name is given, the record is saved in the file typescript. The -a option allows you to append the session record to filename, rather than overwrite it. To end the recording, type
For more information on how to run the script command, check out its man page. mysql provides the command tee to save query results to a file. At the mysql> prompt, you say:
    tee thirsty.lst;
and a file called thirsty.lst will appear in your current directory and will record all user input and system output, until you exit mysql or type:
Note that if the file thirsty.lst existed previously, it will be appended.

Finally, if you use Emacs, you can simply run mysql in a shell buffer and save the buffer to a file. To prevent your MySQL password from being echoed in the Emacs buffer, add the following lines to your .emacs file:

 "\\(\\([Oo]ld \\|[Nn]ew \\|^\\)[Pp]assword\\|Enter password\\):\\s *\\'")

Help Facilities

In response to the mysql> prompt, type help and follow the instructions. You can also browse the complete MySQL Manual online at The MySQL server running on interlibrary is version 5.0.

This document was written originally for Prof. Jeff Ullman's CS145 class in Autumn, 1997; revised by Jun Yang for Prof. Jennifer Widom's CS145 class in Spring, 1998; further revisions by Jeff Ullman, Autumn, 1998; further revisions by Jennifer Widom, Spring 2000; further revisions by Nathan Folkert, Spring 2001; further revisions by Matei Ripeanu, Autumn 2001; further revisions by Xuehai Zhang for CS235 at the University of Chicago in Autumn 2002 and Autumn 2003. Adapted for MySQL by Svetlozar Nestorov for CS235 in Autumn, 2005.