1.3.1 What is MySQL?

MySQL, the most popular Open Source SQL database management system, is developed, distributed, and supported by Oracle Corporation.

The MySQL Web site (http://www.mysql.com/) provides the latest information about MySQL software.

  • MySQL is a database management system.

    A database is a structured collection of data. It may be anything from a simple shopping list to a picture gallery or the vast amounts of information in a corporate network. To add, access, and process data stored in a computer database, you need a database management system such as MySQL Server. Since computers are very good at handling large amounts of data, database management systems play a central role in computing, as standalone utilities, or as parts of other applications.

  • MySQL databases are relational.

    A relational database stores data in separate tables rather than putting all the data in one big storeroom. The database structures are organized into physical files optimized for speed. The logical model, with objects such as databases, tables, views, rows, and columns, offers a flexible programming environment. You set up rules governing the relationships between different data fields, such as one-to-one, one-to-many, unique, required or optional, and pointers between different tables. The database enforces these rules, so that with a well-designed database, your application never sees inconsistent, duplicate, orphan, out-of-date, or missing data.

    The SQL part of MySQL stands for Structured Query Language. SQL is the most common standardized language used to access databases. Depending on your programming environment, you might enter SQL directly (for example, to generate reports), embed SQL statements into code written in another language, or use a language-specific API that hides the SQL syntax.

    SQL is defined by the ANSI/ISO SQL Standard. The SQL standard has been evolving since 1986 and several versions exist. In this manual, SQL-92 refers to the standard released in 1992, SQL:1999 refers to the standard released in 1999, and SQL:2003 refers to the current version of the standard. We use the phrase the SQL standard to mean the current version of the SQL Standard at any time.

  • MySQL software is Open Source.

    Open Source means that it is possible for anyone to use and modify the software. Anybody can download the MySQL software from the Internet and use it without paying anything. If you wish, you may study the source code and change it to suit your needs. The MySQL software uses the GPL (GNU General Public License), http://www.fsf.org/licenses/, to define what you may and may not do with the software in different situations. If you feel uncomfortable with the GPL or need to embed MySQL code into a commercial application, you can buy a commercially licensed version from us. See the MySQL Licensing Overview for more information (http://www.mysql.com/company/legal/licensing/).

  • The MySQL Database Server is very fast, reliable, scalable, and easy to use.

    If that is what you are looking for, you should give it a try. MySQL Server can run comfortably on a desktop or laptop, alongside your other applications, web servers, and so on, requiring little or no attention. If you dedicate an entire machine to MySQL, you can adjust the settings to take advantage of all the memory, CPU power, and I/O capacity available. MySQL can also scale up to clusters of machines, networked together.

    You can find a performance comparison of MySQL Server with other database managers on our benchmark page. See Section 8.13.2, “The MySQL Benchmark Suite”.

    MySQL Server was originally developed to handle large databases much faster than existing solutions and has been successfully used in highly demanding production environments for several years. Although under constant development, MySQL Server today offers a rich and useful set of functions. Its connectivity, speed, and security make MySQL Server highly suited for accessing databases on the Internet.

  • MySQL Server works in client/server or embedded systems.

    The MySQL Database Software is a client/server system that consists of a multi-threaded SQL server that supports different backends, several different client programs and libraries, administrative tools, and a wide range of application programming interfaces (APIs).

    We also provide MySQL Server as an embedded multi-threaded library that you can link into your application to get a smaller, faster, easier-to-manage standalone product.

  • A large amount of contributed MySQL software is available.

    MySQL Server has a practical set of features developed in close cooperation with our users. It is very likely that your favorite application or language supports the MySQL Database Server.

The official way to pronounce MySQL is My Ess Que Ell (not my sequel), but we do not mind if you pronounce it as my sequel or in some other localized way.

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