MySQL Troubleshooting – Tools, steps & advice from an expert – #bookreview

MySQL Troubleshooting
By Sveta Smirnova
(O’Reilly,
paperback, list price $29.99; Kindle edition, list price $14.99)

Sveta Smirnova knows how to find and fix MySQL problems. She is a principal technical support engineer in Oracle’s Bug Analysis Support Group and works daily with MySQL support issues and bug fixes.

Her new book is structured to help both MySQL beginners and those with more advanced skills, and it has been reviewed, prior to publication, by several other MySQL experts.

This well-written how-to guide likely will become a must-have reference book for many MySQL database administrators and support staff, as well as those currently learning MySQL. It contains numerous code examples, log excerpts and other illustrations, plus tips gleaned from long experience at solving a wide array of MySQL issues.

MySQL Troubleshooting has seven chapters:

  • Chapter 1, Basics – Basic troubleshooting techniques
  • Chapter 2, You Are Not Alone: Concurrency Issues – Problems that can occur “when applications run in multiple threads or interfere with transactions in other applications.”
  • Chapter 3, Effects of Server Options – A two-part chapter: (1) How to find and fix problems caused by configuration options; and (2) recommendations on how to solve and test configuration issues.  
  • Chapter 4, MySQL’s Environment – Deals with hardware and server environments. Lists “some points a MySQL database administrator (DBA) must look into.”
  • Chapter 5, Troubleshooting Replication – When slaves lag far behind the master, and related issues.
  • Chapter 6, Troubleshooting Techniques and Tools – Describes “extra techniques and tools” not discussed in earlier chapters.
  • Chapter 7, Best Practices – Focuses on “good habits and behaviors for safe and effective troubleshooting.”

An appendix titled “Information Resources” offers a number of websites and books that the author deems “good sources of information that can help during troubleshooting.”

She notes that MySQL now has “many forks” and acknowledges that her book cannot cover everything, nor “describe servers I don’t work with daily.” For example, she skips over Percona server and MariaDB but says “most of the methods described here” can be used except when “dealing with a particular feature added in the fork,” which will require product-specific information.

She also does not cover MySQL Cluster problems. Issues “specific to MySQL Cluster need separate MySQL Cluster knowledge that I don’t describe here,” she writes.

“But I do devote a lot of space to MyISAM- and InnoDB-specific problems…because they are by far the most popular storage engines, and their installation base is huge.”

A few of her code examples use PHP. But the C API is used “to illustrate the functions discussed in this book. The choice wasn’t easy,” she notes, “because there are a lot of programming APIs for MySQL in various languages.” And covering them all is impossible, she adds.

For many who work with MySQL, MySQL Troubleshooting can help solve or prevent a wide range of  problems, from easily overlooked syntax glitches to complex issues involving configuration, replication or multiple threads. And even if she doesn’t specifically cover your “fork” of MySQL, many of her tips, techniques, and examples can be adapted and put to good use in your own support and troubleshooting efforts.

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Si Dunn is a novelist, screenwriter, freelance book reviewer, and former software technical writer and software/hardware QA test specialist. He also is a former newspaper and magazine photojournalist. His latest book is Dark Signals, a Vietnam War memoir available now in paperback. He is the author of a detective novel, Erwin’s Law, a novella, Jump, and several other books and short stories.

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