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Software Versions and Availability

Writing a MySQL book has proven to be quite a challenge. One reason is that MySQL is a moving target. In the two-plus years since Jeremy first wrote the outline for this book, numerous releases of MySQL have appeared. MySQL 4.0 went from testing to stable, and as we go to press, MySQL 4.1 and 5.0 are both available as alpha versions. We had to revise the older text occasionally to remove references to limitations that were fixed after the fact.[2]

[2] Note to budding authors: write as fast as you can. The longer you drag it out, the more work you have to do.

We didn't use a single version of MySQL for this book. Instead, we used a handful of MySQL 4.0 and 4.1 releases, while occasionally looking back at how things used to be in the 3.23 days. MySQL 5.0 is still in so much flux that we simply could not attempt to cover it in the first edition. The same is true for the (currently) new MySQL Administrator GUI tool.

Throughout this book, we assume a baseline version of MySQL 4.0.14 and have made an effort to note features or functionality that may not exist in older releases or that may exist only in the 4.1 series. However, the definitive reference for mapping features to specific versions is the MySQL documentation itself. We expect that you'll find yourself visiting the annotated online documentation ( from time to time as you read this book.

Another great aspect of MySQL is that it runs on all of today's popular platforms: Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD: you name it! However, our experience is heavily skewed toward Linux and FreeBSD. When possible, we've tried to note differences Windows users are likely to encounter, which tend to come in two flavors. First, file paths are completely different. Chapter 1 contains numerous references to C:\mysql and the location of configuration files on Windows.

Perl is the other rough spot when dealing with MySQL on Windows. MySQL comes with several useful utilities that are written in Perl and certain chapters in this book present example Perl scripts that form the basis of more complex tools you'll build. However, Windows doesn't come with Perl. In order to use these scripts, you'll need to download a Windows version of Perl from ActiveState and install the necessary add-on modules (DBI and DBD::mysql) for MySQL access.

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