4.2. Invoking MySQL Programs

To invoke a MySQL program from the command line (that is, from your shell or command prompt), enter the program name followed by any options or other arguments needed to instruct the program what you want it to do. The following commands show some sample program invocations. “shell>” represents the prompt for your command interpreter; it is not part of what you type. The particular prompt you see depends on your command interpreter. Typical prompts are $ for sh or bash, % for csh or tcsh, and C:\> for the Windows command.com or cmd.exe command interpreters.

shell> mysql -u root test
shell> mysqladmin extended-status variables
shell> mysqlshow --help
shell> mysqldump --user=root personnel

Arguments that begin with a single or double dash (‘-’, ‘--’) are option arguments. Options typically specify the type of connection a program should make to the server or affect its operational mode. Option syntax is described in Section 4.3, “Specifying Program Options”.

Non-option arguments (arguments with no leading dash) provide additional information to the program. For example, the mysql program interprets the first non-option argument as a database name, so the command mysql -u root test indicates that you want to use the test database.

Later sections that describe individual programs indicate which options a program understands and describe the meaning of any additional non-option arguments.

Some options are common to a number of programs. The most common of these are the --host (or -h), --user (or -u), and --password (or -p) options that specify connection parameters. They indicate the host where the MySQL server is running, and the username and password of your MySQL account. All MySQL client programs understand these options; they allow you to specify which server to connect to and the account to use on that server.

Other connection options are --port (or -P) to specify a TCP/IP port number and --socket (or -S) to specify a Unix socket file on Unix (or named pipe name on Windows).

The default hostname is localhost. For client programs on Unix, the hostname localhost is special. It causes the client to connect to the MySQL server through a Unix socket file. This occurs even if a --port or -P option is given to specify a port number. To ensure that the client makes a TCP/IP connection to the local server, use --host or -h to specify a hostname value of, or the IP address or name of the local server. You can also specify the connection protocol explicitly, even for localhost, by using the --protocol=tcp option.

You may find it necessary to invoke MySQL programs using the pathname to the bin directory in which they are installed. This is likely to be the case if you get a “program not found” error whenever you attempt to run a MySQL program from any directory other than the bin directory. To make it more convenient to use MySQL, you can add the pathname of the bin directory to your PATH environment variable setting. That enables you to run a program by typing only its name, not its entire pathname. For example, if mysql is installed in /usr/local/mysql/bin, you'll be able to run it by invoking it as mysql; it will not be necessary to invoke it as /usr/local/mysql/bin/mysql.

Consult the documentation for your command interpreter for instructions on setting your PATH variable. The syntax for setting environment variables is interpreter-specific. (Some information is given in Section 4.3.3, “Using Environment Variables to Specify Options”.)