Installing and Configuring MariaDB

Introduction

We started our LAMP stack when we installed Apache2 on Linux, and then we added extra functionality when we installed and configured PHP to work with Apache2. In this section, our objective is to complete the LAMP stack and install and configure MariaDB, a (so-far) compatible fork of the MySQL relational database.

If you need a refresher on relational databases, the MariaDB website can help. See: Introduction to Relational Databases.

It's also good to review the documentation for any technology that you use. MariaDB has good documentation and getting started pages.

Install and Set Up MariaDB

In this section, we'll learn how to install, setup, secure, and configure the MariaDB relational database so that it works with the Apache2 web server and the PHP programming language.

First, let's install MariaDB Community Server, and then log into the MariaDB shell under the MariaDB root account.

sudo apt install mariadb-server mariadb-client

This should also start and enable the database server, but we can check if it's running and enabled using the systemctl command:

systemctl status mariadb

Next we need to run a post installation script called mysql_secure_installation (that's not a typo) that sets up the MariaDB root password and performs some security checks. To do that, run the following command, and be sure to save the MariaDB root password you create:

sudo mysql_secure_installation

Again, here is where you create a root password for the MariaDB database server. Be sure to save that and not forget it! When you run the above script, you'll get a series of prompts to respond to like below. Press enter for the first prompt, press Y for the prompts marked Y, and input your own password. Since this server is exposed to the internet, be sure to use a complex password.

Enter the current password for root (enter for none):
Set root password: Y
New Password: XXXXXXXXX
Re-enter new password: XXXXXXXXX
Remove anonymous users: Y
Disallow root login remotely: Y
Remove test database and access to it: Y
Reload privilege tables now: Y

We can login to the database to test it. In order to do so, we have to become the root Linux user, which we can do with the following command:

sudo su

Note: we need to generally be careful when we enter commands on the command line, because it's a largely unforgiving computing environment. But we need to be especially careful when we are logged in as the Linux root user. This user can delete anything, including files that the system needs in order to boot and operate.

After we are root, we can login to MariaDB, run the show databases; command, and then exit with the \q command:

root@hostname:~# mariadb -u root
Welcome to the MariaDB monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MariaDB connection id is 47
Server version: 10.3.34-MariaDB-0ubuntu0.20.04.1 Ubuntu 20.04

Copyright (c) 2000, 2018, Oracle, MariaDB Corporation Ab and others.

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

MariaDB [(none)]> show databases;
+--------------------+
| Database           |
+--------------------+
| information_schema |
| mysql              |
| performance_schema |
+--------------------+
3 rows in set (0.002 sec)

Note: If we are logging into the root database account as the root Linux user, we don't need to enter our password.

Create and Set Up a Regular User Account

We need to reserve the root MariaDB user for special use cases and instead create a regular MariaDB user, or more than one MariaDB user, as needed.

To create a regular MariaDB user, we use the create command. In the command below, I'll create a new user called webapp with a complex password within the single quotes at the end (marked with a series of Xs here for demo purposes):

MariaDB [(none)]> create user 'webapp'@'localhost' identified by 'XXXXXXXXX';

If the prompt returns a Query OK message, then the new user should have been created without any issues.

Create a Practice Database

As the root database user, let's create a new database for a regular, new user.

The regular user will be granted all privileges on the new database, including all its tables. Other than granting all privileges, we could limit the user to specific privileges, including: CREATE, DROP, DELETE, INSERT, SELECT, UPDATE, and GRANT OPTION. Such privileges may be called operations or functions, and they allow MariaDB users to use and modify the databases, where appropriate. For example, we may want to limit the webapp user to only be able to use SELECT commands. It totally depends on the purpose of the database and our security risks.

MariaDB [(none)]> create database linuxdb;
MariaDB [(none)]> grant all privileges on linuxdb.* to 'webapp'@'localhost';
MariaDB [(none)]> show databases;

Exit out of the MariaDB database as the root MariaDB user, and then exit out of the root Linux user account, and you should be back to your normal Linux user account:

MariaDB [(none)]> \q
root@hostname:~# exit

Note: relational database keywords are often written in all capital letters. As far as I know, this is simply a convention to make the code more readable. However, in most cases I'll write the keywords in lower case letters. This is simply because, by convention, I'm super lazy.

Logging in as Regular User and Creating Tables

We can start doing MariaDB work. As a reminder, we've created a new MariaDB user named webapp and a new database for webapp that is called linuxdb. When we run the show databases command as the webapp user, we should see the linuxdb database (and only the linuxdb database). Note below that I use the -p option. This instructs MariaDB to request the password for the webapp user, which is required to log in.

mariadb -u webapp -p
MariaDB [(none)]> show databases;
MariaDB [(none)]> use linuxdb;

A database is not worth much without data. In the following code, I create and define a new table for our linuxdb database. The table will be called distributions, and it will contain data about various Linux distributions (name of distribution, distribution developer, and founding date).

MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> create table distributions
    -> (
    -> id int unsigned not null auto_increment,
    -> name varchar(150) not null,
    -> developer varchar(150) not null,
    -> founded date not null,
    -> primary key (id)
    -> );
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.07 sec)

MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> show tables;
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> describe distributions;

Congratulations! Now create some records for that table.

Adding records into the table

We can populate our linuxdb database with some data. We'll use the insert command to add our records into our distribution table:

MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> insert into distributions (name, developer, founded) values
    -> ('Debian', 'The Debian Project', '1993-09-15'),
    -> ('Ubuntu', 'Canonical Ltd.', '2004-10-20'),
    -> ('Fedora', 'Fedora Project', '2003-11-06');
Query OK, 3 rows affected (0.004 sec)
Records: 3  Duplicates: 0  Warnings: 0
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> select * from distributions;

Success! Now let's test our table.

Testing Commands

We will complete the following tasks to refresh our MySQL/MariaDB knowledge:

  • retrieve some records or parts of records,
  • delete a record,
  • alter the table structure so that it will hold more data, and
  • add a record:
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> select name from distributions;
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> select founded from distributions;
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> select name, developer from distributions;
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> select name from distributions where name='Debian';
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> select developer from distributions where name='Ubuntu';
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> select * from distributions;
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> alter table distributions
    -> add packagemanager char(3) after name;
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> describe distributions;
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> update distributions set packagemanager='APT' where id='1';
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> update distributions set packagemanager='APT' where id='2';
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> update distributions set packagemanager='DNF' where id='3';
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> select * from distributions;
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> delete from distributions where name='Debian';
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> insert into distributions
    -> (name, packagemanager, developer, founded) values
    -> ('Debian', 'The Debian Project', '1993-09-15'),
    -> ('CentOS', 'YUM', 'The CentOS Project', '2004-05-14');
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> select * from distributions;
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> select name, packagemanager
    -> from distributions
    -> where founded < '2004-01-01';
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> select name from distributions order by founded;
MariaDB [(linuxdb)]> \q

Install PHP and MySQL Support

The next goal is to complete the connection between PHP and MariaDB so that we can use both for our websites.

First install PHP support for MariaDB. We're installing some modules alongside the basic support. These may or may not be needed, but I'm installing them to demonstrate some basics.

sudo apt install php-mysql

And then restart Apache2 and MariaDB:

sudo systemctl restart apache2
sudo systemctl restart mariadab

Create PHP Scripts

In order for PHP to connect to MariaDB, it needs to authenticate itself. To do that, we will create a login.php file in /var/www/html. We also need to change the group ownership of the file and its permissions so that the file can be read by the Apache2 web server but not by the world, since this file will store password information.

cd /var/www/html/
sudo touch login.php
sudo chmod 640 login.php
sudo chown :www-data login.php
ls -l login.php
nano login.php

In the file, add the following credentials. If you used a different database name than linuxdb and a different username than webapp, then you need to substitute your names below. You need to use your own password where I have the Xs:

<?php // login.php
$db_hostname = "localhost";
$db_database = "linuxdb";
$db_username = "webapp";
$db_password = "XXXXXXXXX";
?>

Next we create a new PHP file for our website. This file will display HTML but will primarily be PHP interacting with our MariaDB distributions database.

Create a file titled distros.php.

sudo nano distros.php

Then copy over the following text (I suggest you transcribe it, especially if you're interested in learning a bit of PHP, but you can simply copy and paste it into the nano buffer):

<html>
<head>
<title>MySQL Server Example</title>
</head>
<body>

<?php

// Load MySQL credentials
require_once 'login.php';

// Establish connection
$conn = mysqli_connect($db_hostname, $db_username, $db_password) or
  die("Unable to connect");

// Open database
mysqli_select_db($conn, $db_database) or
  die("Could not open database '$db_database'");

// QUERY 1
$query1 = "show tables from $db_database";
$result1 = mysqli_query($conn, $query1);

$tblcnt = 0;
while($tbl = mysqli_fetch_array($result1)) {
  $tblcnt++;
}

if (!$tblcnt) {
  echo "<p>There are no tables</p>\n";
}
else {
  echo "<p>There are $tblcnt tables</p>\n";
}

// Free result1 set
mysqli_free_result($result1);

// QUERY 2
$query2 = "select name, developer from distributions";
$result2 = mysqli_query($conn, $query2);

$row = mysqli_fetch_array($result2, MYSQLI_NUM);
printf ("%s (%s)\n", $row[0], $row[1]);
echo "<br/>";

$row = mysqli_fetch_array($result2, MYSQLI_ASSOC);
printf ("%s (%s)\n", $row["name"], $row["developer"]);

// Free result2 set
mysqli_free_result($result2);

// Query 3
$query3 = "select * from distributions";
$result3 = mysqli_query($conn, $query3);

while($row = $result3->fetch_assoc()) {
  echo "<p>Owner " . $row["developer"] . " manages distribution " . $row["name"] . ".</p>";
}

mysqli_free_result($result3);

$result4 = mysqli_query($conn, $query3);
while($row = $result4->fetch_assoc()) {
  echo "<p>Distribution " . $row["name"] . " was released on " . $row["founded"] . ".</p>";
}

// Free result4 set
mysqli_free_result($result4);

/* Close connection */
mysqli_close($conn);

?>

</body>
</html>

Save the file and exit out of nano.

Test Syntax

After you save the file and exit the text editor, we need to test the PHP syntax. If there are any errors in our PHP, these commands will show the line numbers that are causing errors or leading up to errors. Nothing will output if all is well with the first command. If all is well with the second command, HTML should be outputted:

sudo php -f login.php
sudo php -f index.php

Conclusion

Congratulations! If you've reached this far, you have successfully created a LAMP stack. In the process, you have learned how to install and set up MariaDB, how to create MariaDB root and regular user accounts, how to create a test database with play data for practicing, and how to connect this with PHP for display on a webpage.

In regular applications of these technologies, there's a lot more involved, but completing the above process is a great start to learning more.