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Using NULL as default values

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It is common practice in MySQL table design that fields are declared as NOT NULL but some non-sense DEFAULT values are specified for unknown field contents. In this article we show why this behavior is non optimal an why you should better declare a field to allow NULL values and use NULL values instead of some dummy values.

MySQL out in the wild

One of our partners recently asked me on what platforms do we usually see MySQL installed out there...

The last 5 years I gave the answer: Typically it is 80% Linux, 10% Windows, 5% Solaris and 5% all others. But this was only the picture of my limited view and I was not sure how objective this was.

This time I really wanted to know it and so I collected the information of about 570 MySQL installations of customers.

The following numbers came out:

MySQL Query Cache does not work with Complex Queries in Transactions

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We did recently a review of one of our customers systems and we found that the Query Cache was disabled even thought it had significant more read than write queries.
When we asked the customer why he has not enabled the Query Cache he mentioned a review that was done a few years ago and which stated that the Query Cache hit ratio was non optimal.
This was verified on a testing system which had the Query Cache enabled by accident.

But we all thought that the Query Cache would make sense in this situation so we investigated a bit more.

Regularly flushing the MySQL Query Cache

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When we analyze our customers systems we see typically a high fragmentation of the query cache after a while. This leads to a less optimal use of the Query Cache than possible.

With the following Query you can see the values for your Query Cache:

InnoDB Graphs for MySQL Performance Monitor

We have just released v0.7.1 of the FromDual MySQL Performance Monitor. The new release can be downloaded from here.

In all editions some error messages have been cleaned-up, the fall-back data gather method mysql has been removed and the Maria SE template has been renamed to Aria.

In the edition dedicated to our customers most of the InnoDB graphs which are available with MEM v2.3.3 have been implemented now.

Be cautious when using Virtualized System with your Database

A customer rose a support case with a problem on his Master-Master set-up. The 2nd Master claims to have a problem:

German speaking MySQL User Group (DMySQLAG) founded today

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Today the German speaking MySQL User Group (DMySQLAG) was officially founded in Berlin. The association advocates:
  • the information of the use, the handling and the experience with MySQL and development in the MySQL Eco-System as well as systems which use MySQL.
  • the exchange of experience between MySQL users about MySQL and other systems.
  • the Advice and Cooperation with Oracle and vendors of other systems.
  • the submission of suggestions of the members to Oracle and vendors of other systems.

When a MySQL table was last touched

In our last customer project we had around 600 Gbyte of data in a MySQL database. Because this database consumed a significant amount of our disk space and backups with the InnoDB backup tool took pretty long we wanted to find out if we could get rid of some of the tables.

This application was growing over the last 10 years and it was not clear if some tables are still in use or not.

But how to find out when a table was touched last? MySQL/InnoDB theoretically could know about but does not report this information.

Dumping BLOB's from the MySQL database

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A customer who is handling digital certificates had a problem with one of those. So we had to investigate.

Because the certificate is in binary form it is stored in a BLOB and we had to extract it from the database to do some verifications.

What first came to my mind was to extract the certificate with the SELECT INTO OUTFILE command. But the verification tool complained and told us that the certificate has a wrong format.

Configuration of MySQL for Shared Hosting

If you ask around about shared hosting setups with MySQL everybody is frightened. In fact it looks like shared hosting is one of the most difficult setups you can get.

The number of users is big, the number of tables huge and the load pattern is completely unpredictable and the queries often very, let us say: non-optimal.

Here one of the DBA wisdoms come into play: Controlling developers is like herding cats.

If you talk to the Shared MySQL Hoster they confirm that this setups are very demanding!

MySQL HA (high availability) Cluster cookbook

In the following article I have summarized some steps and hints to set-up a MySQL active/passive fail-over Cluster also sometimes called MySQL HA.

With such a set-up you can achieve a 99.99% (4x9) HA set-up for MySQL (52 minutes downtime per year). The same procedure also works for PostgreSQL, Oracle and other database systems running on Linux (DRBD runs on Linux only).

The concept

The concept of an active/passive fail-over Cluster is the following:

MySQL Performance Monitor with DRBD monitoring capabilities

The FromDual Performance Monitor for MySQL has now a new module for monitoring DRBD. Since more an more of our customers want to run MySQL High Availability solutions based on DRBD we have implemented this module.

We gather all information which are reported with the command:

Be careful when using SAN

Be careful when using SAN (Storage Area Networks) or similar shard storage solutions (and any other virtualization, consolidation or cloud solutions).

This week it happened again: A customer called us because he had some troubles with his on-line shop (note the date!). Everybody in his company complained that the databases are answering slowly.

MySQL Cluster - Cluster circular replication with 2 replication channels

A few days ago I had to deal with MySQL Cluster replication. I did not do this for a while so I was prepared to expect some interesting surprises once again.

For those who MySQL Cluster - Cluster circular replication is the daily business they may skip this article. For all the others they possibly can profit from our learnings.

I am talking about the following MySQL Cluster set-up:

How can I find what InnoDB version I am using?

In the old days everything was simpler. We had one maker of our favourite database management system and possibly the choice between different Storage Engines. Mostly the decision has to be taken between MyISAM and InnoDB. When you care about your data integrity you have chosen InnoDB.

Nowadays it is more complex. We have several different makers of our favourite database management system: Oracle/MySQL, Monty Program AB and Percona with their products: MySQL, MariaDB and Percona Server.

Impact of indices on MySQL

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It is generally well known that indexes help a lot to speed up database queries (especially SELECT but also UPDATE and DELETE). It is less known, that indexes also have some disadvantages.

One of these disadvantages is, that indexes require space in memory and on disk. An other disadvantage of indexes is, that they slow down DML statements like INSERT and DELETE.

We often see at our customers that they do not realized this behavior. Now I found the time to show the impact of (too) many indexes graphically.

MySQL logon and logoff trigger for auditing

A while ago I did some research about MySQL audit functionality and logon a and logoff triggers. MySQL and MariaDB provide a logon trigger in the form of the init_connect variable but no logoff trigger where most of the work for auditing would be done. When we would have a logoff trigger we could track the login and possibility some activity of a user and implement auditing functionality.

MyEnv for MySQL Multi-Database set-ups

This week I showed one of my customers our MyEnv. He was very interested in it and suggested to make it known in public. In fact MyEnv is available for download already several years...

But I did not have the heart yet to announce it more publicly because it was not end user ready at all. So I used the weekend to make it nicer, consolidated some of the code, dropped old stuff etc. Now I think it is acceptable to use for public but not perfect.

How many warm MyISAM key blocks do you have?

When you are working with MyISAM [ 1 ] tables MySQL provides a feature called the Midpoint Insertion Strategy [ 2 ]. You can enable it with the parameter key_cache_division_limit [ 3 ].

By default, the key cache management system uses a simple LRU [ 4 ] strategy for choosing key cache blocks to be purged:

MyISAM key buffer

Disadvantages of explicitly NOT using InnoDB Primary Keys?

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We recently had the case with one of our customers where we got externally generated random hash values (up to 70 bytes) and they were used as Primary Keys in InnoDB.

As we know, this is not a very good idea because the size of all secondary indexes becomes large and because a random hash value as a Primary Key gives us a bad locality of our rows in the table [ 1 ].

Which table is hit by an InnoDB page corruption?

InnoDB is known to have crash-recovery capabilities and thus is called a crash safe storage engine (in contrary to MyISAM). Never the less under certain circumstances it seems like InnoDB pages can get corrupt during a crash and then a manual crash-recovery is needed.

MySQL Cluster Local Checkpoint (LCP) and Global Checkpoint (GCP)

MySQL Cluster is mainly an in-memory database. Nevertheless it requires a good I/O system for writing various different information to disk.

The information MySQL Cluster writes to disk are the:

  • Global Checkpoints (GCP) which are the transactions.
  • Local Checkpoints (LCP) which is a dirty image of the data.
  • Backup.

In the following schema (a 2-node Cluster) you can see what is related to each other:


How the MySQL Optimizer with MySQL Cluster is cheating you...

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At a customer we had a nice example of how the MySQL Optimizer is cheating when used in combination with the MySQL Cluster. The customer had queries running not too slow in the development environment but when he tried them on the acceptance test environment (with more data) the query was running much too long which was unacceptable because this query can occur many times per second.

What has happened?

First of all we had a look at the execution plan of the query generated by the MySQL Optimizer:

FromDual - The MySQL consulting company goes operational today!

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Hello everybody,

One month earlier than planned we have the great pleasure to announce you that the company called FromDual goes operational today!

We are excited about this step and it is an new era in our personal evolution to get back in full-contact with customers and solve their real life day-to-day MySQL problems.

So we are happy hearing from you and to help you solving your individual MySQL problems...


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