Category Archives: Learning

Lesson 09: Managing Users and Privileges in MySQL

Notes/errata/updates for Chapter 9:
See the official book errata at http://tahaghoghi.com/LearningMySQL/errata.php – Chapter 9 includes pages 297 – 350.

In the fourth paragraph of this chapter, starting with “Most applications don’t need superuser privileges for day-to-day activities” they give you some reasons why you want to create users without the SUPER privilege. There are better reasons than the book gives, which are at the MySQL Manual page for the SUPER privilege.

In the section “Creating and Using New Users” (p. 300) they say “There’s no limit on password length, but we recommend using eight or fewer characters because this avoids problems with system libraries on some platforms.” You should ignore this, this book was written in 2006 and modern system libraries can handle more than 8 characters in a password. Also ignore it when they say the same thing in the section “Understanding and Changing Passwords” (p. 324).

In the section “Creating a New Remote User” at the very end (p. 214), it talks about using % as a host wildcard character. I want to point out that if there are no ACL’s set for a given host, MySQL will reject ALL connections from that host – even “telnet host 3306” will fail. So if you avoid using %, you are slightly more secure.

In the “Anonymous Users” section (p. 315), one fact that is not mentioned is that for all users, including the anonymous user, any database named “test” or that starts with “test_” can be accessed and manipulated. So an anonymous user can create tables in the “test” database (or even “test_application”) and fill it full of data, causing a denial of service when the disk eventually fills up. This fact is mentioned later in the chapter in the “Default User Configuration” section under “Linux and Mac OS X”, but it should be known earlier.

The “mysqlaccess” utility described in the section of that name (p. 320) is usually not used. These days, folks prefer the pt-show-grants tool. Here is a blog post with some examples of pt-show-grants.

In the section on “Removing Users” (p. 324), it says that if all the privileges are revoked, and a user only has GRANT USAGE, “This means the user can still connect, but has no privileges when she does.” This is untrue, as mentioned before, everyone can access and manipulate databases starting with “test”.

The section “Managing Privileges with SQL” is deprecated (p. 339-346, up to and including “Activating Privileges”). It used to be, back when this was written, that few people used the GRANT statements and more people directly manipulated the tables. These days, it’s the other way around, and due to problems like SQL injection, there are safeguards in place – for example, if you change the host of a user with an ALTER TABLE on the mysql.user table, the user will have all privileges dropped. Just about the only thing direct querying is used for, is to find who has the Super_priv variable set to ‘Y’ in the user table.

Supplemental material: I have a video presentation on security which includes ACLs and there are accompanying PDF slides.

Topics covered:
Creating and dropping local and remote users
Different MySQL privileges
SUPER privilege
GRANT and REVOKE syntax
Hosts and wildcards
Anonymous and default users
Checking privileges
Password management
Basic user security
Resource limit controls

Reference/Quick Links for MySQL Marinate

Lesson 07: Advanced MySQL Querying

Notes/errata/updates for Chapter 7:
See the official book errata at http://tahaghoghi.com/LearningMySQL/errata.php – Chapter 7 includes pages 223 – 275.

Supplemental blog post – ORDER BY NULL – read the blog post and the comments!

GROUP BY and HAVING examples – Supplemental blog post. The example of HAVING in the text shows a use case where HAVING is the same function as WHERE. This blog posts shows examples of HAVING that you cannot do any other way.

In the section called “The GROUP BY clause”, on pages 231-232, the book says:
“you can count any column in a group, and you’ll get the same answer, so COUNT(artist_name) is the same as COUNT(*) or COUNT(artist_id).” This is not 100% true; COUNT does not count NULL values, so if you had 10 rows and 1 artist_name was NULL, COUNT(artist_name) would return 9 instead of 10. COUNT(*) counts the number of rows and would always return 10, so COUNT(*) is preferable when you intend to count the number of rows.

Also in that section, on page 233 when they show you the example:
SELECT * FROM track GROUP BY artist_id;
– Note that they explain the result is not meaningful. In most other database systems, this query would not be allowed.

In the “Advanced Joins” section, specifically on page 238 at the bottom where they say “There’s no real advantage or disadvantage in using an ON or a WHERE clause; it’s just a matter of taste.” While that’s true for the MySQL parser, it’s much easier for humans to read, and see if you missed a join condition, if you put the join conditions in an ON clause.

In the section on Nested Queries, on page 251, it says “nested queries are hard to optimize, and so they’re almost always slower to run than the unnested alternative.” MySQL has gotten better and better at optimizing nested queries, so this statement isn’t necessarily true any more.

A “derived table”, is a nested query in the FROM Clause, as described in the section heading with that name (p. 262).

In the “Table Types” subsection (p. 267), it says that MyISAM is a good choice for storage engines, and that “you very rarely need to make any other choice in small-to medium-size applications”. However, it’s recommended to use InnoDB for better concurrency, transaction support and being safer from data corruption in a crash situation. Indeed, the default storage engine in more recent versions of MySQL is InnoDB.

In addition, the lingo has been changed since the book was written; we now use “storage engine” instead of “table type”. The examples that use CREATE TABLE or ALTER TABLE with TYPE may need to be changed to STORAGE ENGINE instead of TYPE.

Finally, you can skip the section on BDB since it has been deprecated (p. 274-5).

Topics covered:
Aliases
Join style
Joins (JOIN, INNER, COMMA, STRAIGHT, RIGHT, LEFT, NATURAL)
UNION and UNION ALL
Data aggregation (DISTINCT, GROUP BY, HAVING
Subqueries and Nested Queries (including ANY, SOME, ALL, IN, NOT IN, EXISTS, NOT EXISTS, correlated subqueries, derived tables, row subqueries)
User Variables
Transactions/locking
Table Types/Storage engines

Reference/Quick Links for MySQL Marinate

Lesson 06: Working with Database Structures

Notes/errata/updates for Chapter 6:
See the official book errata at http://tahaghoghi.com/LearningMySQL/errata.php – Chapter 6 includes pages 179 – 222.

Other notes:
At the end of the “Creating Tables” section (p.183-4), it says “We like using the underscore character to separate words, but that’s just a matter of style and taste; you could use underscores or dashes, or omit the word-separating formatting altogether.” While this is true, beware of using a dash, because MySQL will try to interpret “two-words”, thinking – is a minus sign. I recommend avoiding dashes for this reason (even though the book does this on page 215).

At the end of the “Collation and Character Sets” section (p.186), it says “When you’re creating a database, you can set the default character set and sort order for the database and its tables.” Note that the default character set for the server will set the default character set for any new databases created if a default character set is not specified; there is no change in existing databases. In turn, the default character set for the database sets the default character set for any new tables created but does not change any existing tables, and the default character set for a table determines the default character set for each column, which can be overridden by specifying a character set when defining a column.

Under the “Other Features” section it references a section called “Table Types”. This section is in chapter 7, p. 267.

Under the “Other Features” section it shows the SHOW CREATE TABLE example (p. 187). By default, MySQL shows you output in horizontal format – that is, one table row is shown as one row in the output. However, you can have MySQL show you output in vertical format, where one column is shows as one row in the output. Instead of using ; to end a query, use \G

Try it with:
SHOW CREATE TABLE artist;
vs
SHOW CREATE TABLE artist\G

And see the difference.

In the “Column Types” section on page 194, it says that “Only one TIMESTAMP column per table can be automatically set to the current date and time on insert or update.” This is not true as of MySQL version 5.6.5 and higher. As per the documentation at https://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.6/en/timestamp-initialization.html: “For any TIMESTAMP or DATETIME column in a table, you can assign the current timestamp as the default value, the auto-update value, or both.”

In the section called “The AUTO_INCREMENT Feature”, on page 211, it says “If, however, we delete all the data in the table, the counter is reset to 1.” The example shows the use of TRUNCATE TABLE. Note that if you deleted all the data in the table with DELETE, such as “DELETE FROM count WHERE 1=1;”, the counter is NOT reset.

Supplemental material:
Data types:
Podcast on Strings
Podcast on Numeric data types
Podcast on ENUM, SET and different SQL modes
Podcast on Times and time zones

Topics covered:
How to CREATE, DROP and ALTER databases, tables, columns and indexes
Collations and character sets
Data types
AUTO_INCREMENT

Reference/Quick Links for MySQL Marinate

MySQL Marinate – So you want to learn MySQL! – START HERE

Want to learn or refresh yourself on MySQL? MySQL Marinate is the FREE virtual self-study group is for you!

MySQL Marinate quick links if you know what it is all about.

This is for beginners – If you have no experience with MySQL, or if you are a developer that wants to learn how to administer MySQL, or an administrator that wants to learn how to query MySQL, this course is what you want. If you are not a beginner, you will likely still learn some nuances, and it will be easy and fast to do. If you have absolutely zero experience with MySQL, this is perfect for you. The first few chapters walk you through getting and installing MySQL, so all you need is a computer and the book.

The format of a virtual self-study group is as follows:
Each participant acquires the same textbook (Learning MySQL, the “butterfly O’Reilly book”, published 2007). You can acquire the textbook however you want (e.g. from the libary or from a friend, hard copy or online). Yes, the book is old, but SQL dates back to at least the 1970’s and the basics haven’t changed! There are notes and errata for each chapter so you will have updated information. The book looks like this:

O'Reilly Butterfly book picture

O’Reilly Butterfly book picture

Each participant commits to reading each chapter (we suggest one chapter per week as a good deadline), complete the exercises and post a link to the completed work.

Each participant obtains assistance by posting questions to the comments on a particular chapter.

Note: There is no classroom instruction.

How do I get started?

– Watch sheeri.com each week for the chapters to be posted.

– Get Learning MySQL
Acquire a book (the only item that may cost money). Simply acquire Learning MySQL – see if your local library has it, if someone is selling their copy, or buy it new.

– Start!
When your book arrives, start your virtual learning by reading one chapter per week. Complete the exercises; if you have any questions, comments or want to learn more in-depth, that’s what the comments for!

FAQs:
Q: Does this cover the Percona patch set or MariaDB forks?

A: This covers the basics of MySQL, which are applicable to Percona’s patched MySQL or MariaDB builds, as well as newer versions of MySQL.

Q: What do I need in order to complete the course?

A: All you need is the book and access to a computer, preferably one that you have control over. Windows, Mac OS X or Unix/Linux will work. A Chromebook or tablet is not recommended for this course.

Q: Where can I put completed assignments?

A: Completed assignments get uploaded to github. See How to Submit Homework

Q: The book was published in 2007. Isn’t that a bit old?

A: Yes! The basics are still accurate, and we will let you know what in the book is outdated. I have contacted O’Reilly, offering to produce a new edition, and they are not interested in updating the book. We will also have optional supplemental material (blog posts, videos, slides) for those who want to learn more right away. We are confident that this self-study course will make you ready to dive into other, more advanced material.

Soak it in!

Reference/Quick Links for MySQL Marinate

Testing Advanced Log Flushing for Percona Audit

We use Percona’s <A HREF=”https://www.percona.com/doc/percona-server/5.5/management/audit_log_plugin.html”>audit log plugin</A> to keep a record of all our logins. Recently we did one of those tasks that everyone knows they should do, but few ever do: change the application user’s password.

When we change the application password, we add a new application user with the proper permissions and a new password, update the information in our repository and wait a while. Using this procedure, any failures mean the old user is used, and more importantly – failure does not impact the end user.

We check the audit logs to see if there were failures – if the user is still being used – when it is no longer in use, we can drop the user.

For reference, here are our settings:

[mysqlaudit]# grep audit /etc/my.cnf
# Percona audit plugin options
audit_log_format = JSON
audit_log_rotate_on_size = 1073741824 . #1G
audit_log_rotations = 10
audit_log_file = /var/log/mysqlaudit/audit.log
audit_log_buffer_size = 4194304
audit_log_strategy = ASYNCHRONOUS
audit_log_policy = LOGINS

This means that we automatically flush logs >1G, keeping 10 audit logs. The other option is to do manual flushing, but we do not want our log files to get very large, and we don’t need to keep audit logs for a very long time.

The ideal behavio – we update our app to the new user, and then flush the logs. That way we could start a new audit log and only have to search the current audit log for the old user. I’m sure people are thinking, “well, it’s set to rotate by size, not manually, so you just cannot do it.” However, binary logs are set the same way and FLUSH LOGS do indeed rotate logs manually, even when auto rotate by size is set.

The tl;dr is that there is currently no way to do this without restarting MySQL. The audit_log_rotate_on_size variable is not dynamic, so we could not set it to manual without restarting MySQL. Here are some other tests we did to see if we could force an audit log flush while using the auto rotate:

We tried moving the audit logs and flushing:

[ ~]# cd /var/log/mysqlaudit/
[mysqlaudit]# ls -l
total 1459572
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 420839439 Mar 31 11:04 audit.log
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 1073749720 Mar 25 08:50 audit.log.01
[mysqlaudit]# mv audit.log.01 audit.log.02
[mysqlaudit]# mv audit.log audit.log.01
[mysqlaudit]# ls
audit.log.01 audit.log.02

Don’t worry, this doesn’t affect writing the file – the inode is still in MySQL and it still writes to the file, now called audit.log.01:
[mysqlaudit]# ls -l
total 1459652
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 420925253 Mar 31 11:07 audit.log.01
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 1073749720 Mar 25 08:50 audit.log.02
[mysqlaudit]# ls -l
total 1459652
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 420925253 Mar 31 11:07 audit.log.01
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 1073749720 Mar 25 08:50 audit.log.02
[mysqlaudit]# mysql -u sheeri.cabral -p -e “FLUSH LOGS;”
Enter password:
[mysqlaudit]# ls -l
total 1459688
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 420958983 Mar 31 11:07 audit.log.01
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 1073749720 Mar 25 08:50 audit.log.02

Note that this also proves that “FLUSH LOGS” does not close and open the audit log.

Can we force it? Let’s try by setting the audit_log_policy to NONE and then to LOGINS (what we have it as by default):

[mysqlaudit]# mysql -u sheeri.cabral -p -e “set global audit_log_policy=NONE; set global audit_log_policy=LOGINS”
Enter password:
[mysqlaudit]# ls -l
total 1459768
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 421043317 Mar 31 11:10 audit.log.01
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 1073749720 Mar 25 08:50 audit.log.02

Here’s another failed test – let’s see if we can disable then enable the plugin:
[mysqlaudit]# mysql -u sheeri.cabral -p -e “UNINSTALL PLUGIN audit_log”
Enter password:
[mysqlaudit]# ls -rlth
total 1.4G
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 1.1G Mar 25 08:50 audit.log.01
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 403M Mar 31 11:44 audit.log
[mysqlaudit]# mysql -u sheeri.cabral -p -e “INSTALL PLUGIN audit_log SONAME ‘audit_log.so’; ”
Enter password:
ERROR 1125 (HY000) at line 1: Function ‘audit_log’ already exists
[mysqlaudit]# mysql -u sheeri.cabral -p
Enter password:
Welcome to the MySQL monitor. Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MySQL connection id is 1375345
Server version: 5.5.51-38.1-log Percona Server (GPL), Release 38.1, Revision b4a63b4

Copyright (c) 2009-2016 Percona LLC and/or its affiliates
Copyright (c) 2000, 2016, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

Oracle is a registered trademark of Oracle Corporation and/or its
affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective
owners.

Type ‘help;’ or ‘\h’ for help. Type ‘\c’ to clear the current input statement.

[(none)]> \P grep -i audit
PAGER set to ‘grep -i audit’
[(none)]> SHOW PLUGINS;
| audit_log | DELETED | AUDIT | audit_log.so | GPL |
41 rows in set (0.00 sec)

[(none)]> INSTALL PLUGIN audit_log SONAME ‘audit_log.so’;
ERROR 1125 (HY000): Function ‘audit_log’ already exists

So, I ended up needing to restart MySQL if I wanted to re-enable the plugin.

Sometimes the failures are the most illuminating!

[I realize that the plugin probably could not hack FLUSH LOGS but it would be great to get FLUSH AUDIT or something similar…]

MySQL DevOps First Step: Revision Control

MySQL environments are notorious for being understaffed – MySQL is everywhere, and an organization is lucky if they have one full-time DBA, as opposed to a developer or sysadmin/SRE responsible for it.

That being said, MySQL is a complex program and it’s useful to have a record of configuration changes made. Not just for compliance and auditing, but sometimes – even if you’re the only person who works on the system – you want to know “when was that variable changed?” In the past, I’ve relied on the timestamp on the file when I was the lone DBA, but that is a terrible idea.

I am going to talk about configuration changes in this post, mostly because change control for configuration (usually /etc/my.cnf) is sorely lacking in many organizations. Having a record of data changes falls under backups and binary logging, and having a record of schema changes is something many organizations integrate with their ORM, so they are out of scope for this blog post.

Back to configuration – it is also helpful for disaster recovery purposes to have a record of what the configuration was. You can restore your backup, but unless you set your configuration properly, there will be problems (for example, an incompatible innodb_log_file_size will cause MySQL not to start).

So, how do you do this? Especially if you have no time?

While configuration management systems like chef, puppet and cfengine are awesome, they take setup time. If you have them, they are gold – use them! If you do not have them, you can still do a little bit at a time and improve incrementally.

If you really are at the basics, get your configurations into a repository system. Whether you use rcs, cvs, subversion or git (or anything else), make a repository and check in your configuration. The configuration management systems give you bells and whistles like being able to make templates and deploying to machines.

It is up to you what your deployment process is – to start, something like “check in the change, then copy the file to production” might be good enough, for a start – remember,  we’re taking small steps here. It’s not a great system, but it’s certainly better than not having any revision control at all!

A great system will use some kind of automated deployment, as well as monitoring to make sure that your running configuration is the same as your configuration file (using <A HREF=”https://www.percona.com/doc/percona-toolkit/3.0/pt-config-diff.html”>pt-config-diff). That way, there are no surprises if MySQL restarts.

But having a great system is a blog post for another time.

Generating a MySQL Password

One of the services our database engineers provide is adding users to MySQL. We have some nice Chef recipes, so all I have to do is update a few files, including adding in the MySQL password hash.

Now, when I added myself, I just logged into MySQL and generated a password hash. But when my SRE (systems reliability engineer) colleague needed to generate a password, he did not have a MySQL system he could login to.

The good news is it’s easy to generate a MySQL password hash. The MySQL password hash is simply a SHA1 hash of a SHA1 hash, with * at the beginning. Which means you do not need a MySQL database to create a MySQL password hash – all you need is a programming language that has a SHA1 function (well, and a concatenate function).

And I found it, of course, on this post at StackExchange (http://unix.stackexchange.com/a/234592/217471). So you don’t have to click through, here is what it says – and I have tested all these methods and I get the same password hash. I have changed their example of “right” to “PASSWORD HERE” so it’s more readable and obvious where the password goes, in case you copy and paste from here.

Some one-liners:

**MySQL** (may require you add -u(user) -p):

mysql -NBe "select password('PASSWORD HERE')"

**Python**:

python -c 'from hashlib import sha1; print "*" + sha1(sha1("PASSWORD HERE").digest()).hexdigest().upper()'

**Perl**:

perl -MDigest::SHA1=sha1_hex -MDigest::SHA1=sha1 -le ‘print “*”. uc sha1_hex(sha1(“PASSWORD HERE”))’

**PHP**:

php -r 'echo "*" . strtoupper(sha1(sha1("PASSWORD HERE", TRUE))). "\n";'

Hopefully these help you – they enabled my colleagues to easily generate what’s needed without having to find (or create) a MySQL instance that they can already login to.

Learn MySQL for Free with MySQL Marinate, Season 3!

The 3rd season of MySQL Marinate begins October 1st! Join the meetup group and RSVP at season 3 to join! You can do the work on MySQL, or if you prefer, MariaDB or Percona.

If you do not have the book yet, you can still do the first week by using the online material from Browse Contents on the OReilly book page for Learning MySQL. There is homework for week 1, see the master list for all the information.

If you would like to learn MySQL from the ground up, consider joining us. This is for beginners If you have no experience with MySQL, or if you are a developer that wants to learn how to administer MySQL, or an administrator that wants to learn how to query MySQL, this course is what you want.

If you are not a beginner, you are welcome to join too maybe you need a refresher, or maybe you just want to test your knowledge or earn badges. Thats OK too!

The format of a virtual self-study group is as follows:

Each participant acquires the same textbook (Learning MySQL, the butterfly OReilly book, published 2007). You can acquire the textbook however you want (e.g. from the libary or from a friend) but if you buy the book, we ask that you buy it from our Amazon Store, to help pay for meetup fees.

Each participant commits to read one chapter per week, complete the exercises and post a link to the completed work. Tweet using the hashtag #mysqlmarinate.

Each participant obtains assistance by posting questions to a discussion area set up on the Virtual Tech Self Study Message Board for each chapter.

Each participant receives a badge upon finishing each chapter and all assignments.

Note: There is no classroom or video instruction.

How do I get started?

Become a member of the Virtual Tech Self Study Meetup Group.

Register for MySQL Marinate. RSVP to this event: Yes

Acquire the book (the only item that may cost money). Get your hands Learning MySQL see if your local library has it, if someone is selling their copy, or buy it from our Amazon Store (this helps pay for meetup fees).

When your book arrives, start your virtual learning by reading one chapter per week. Complete the exercises; if you have any questions, comments or want to learn more in-depth, thats what the forums are for!

Learning MySQL

FAQs:

Q: How long will the course last?

A: We will cover 12 lessons (chapters) in the book, so 12 (twelve) weeks starting October 1st, though we will have one week that is a break so that you can catch up if you need to or you have a week off if you need it. Refer to the MySQL Marinate Season 3 Master Discussion List for specific dates.

By January 1st, 2014, you will know MySQL!!

Q: Can I get ahead?

A: Sure! This is go-at-your-own-pace. To prevent spoilers, please put comments in the appropriate chapter threads.

Q: Does this cover the Percona patch set or MariaDB forks?

A: This covers the basics of MySQL, which are immediately transferable to Perconas patched MySQL or MariaDB builds.

Q: What do I need in order to start the course?

A: All you need is the book and access to a computer, preferably one that you have control over. Installing MySQL is chapter 2, so really, all you need is the book and a computer to start, you dont have to worry about any prerequisites. If you do not have the book yet, you can still do the first week by using the online material from Browse Contents at the OReilly Learning MySQL page.

Q: Where can I put completed assignments?

A: You will be able to put completed assignments on github. Instructions are in week 1.

Q: The book was published in 2007. Isnt that a bit old?

A: Yes! OReilly is working on new material, but it is not ready yet. The basics are still accurate, and we will let you know what in the book is outdated. We will also have optional supplemental/extra credit material for those who want to learn more right away. We are confident that this self-study course will make you ready to dive into other, more advanced material.

Soak it in!

*either tomorrow or today, depending on when and where you read this. Or it was in the past, if you have to catch up on your blog posts. Its OK, you can join us late, too. You can go at your own pace.