A MariaDB Primer

This primer is designed to teach you the basics of getting information into and out of an existing MariaDB database using the mariadb command-line client program. It's not a complete reference and will not touch on any advanced topics. It is just a quick jump-start into using MariaDB.

Logging into MariaDB

Log into your MariaDB server from the command-line like so:

mariadb -u user_name -p -h ip_address db_name

Replace user_name with your database username. Replace ip_address with the host name or address of your server. If you're accessing MariaDB from the same server you're logged into, then don't include -h and the ip_address. Replace db_name with the name of the database you want to access (such as test, which sometimes comes already created for testing purposes - note that Windows does not create this database, and some setups may also have removed the test database by running mariadb-secure-installation, in which case you can leave the db_name out).

When prompted to enter your password, enter it. If your login is successful you should see something that looks similar to this:

MariaDB [test]> 

This is where you will enter in all of your SQL statements. More about those later. For now, let's look at the components of the prompt: The "MariaDB" part means you that you are connected to a MariaDB database server. The word between the brackets is the name of your default database, the test database in this example.

The Basics of a Database

To make changes to a database or to retrieve data, you will need to enter an SQL statement. SQL stands for Structured Query Language. An SQL statement that requests data is called a query. Databases store information in tables. They're are similar to spreadsheets, but much more efficient at managing data.

Note that the test database may not contain any data yet. If you want to follow along with the primer, copy and paste the following into the mariadb client. This will create the tables we will use and add some data to them. Don't worry about understanding them yet; we'll get to that later.


USE test;

  Title VARCHAR(100) NOT NULL, 
  SeriesID INT, AuthorID INT);



INSERT INTO books (Title,SeriesID,AuthorID) 
VALUES('The Fellowship of the Ring',1,1), 
      ('The Two Towers',1,1), ('The Return of the King',1,1),  
      ('The Sum of All Men',2,2), ('Brotherhood of the Wolf',2,2), 
      ('Wizardborn',2,2), ('The Hobbbit',0,1);

Notice the semi-colons used above. The mariadb client lets you enter very complex SQL statements over multiple lines. It won't send an SQL statement until you type a semi-colon and hit [Enter].

Let's look at what you've done so far. Enter the following:


| Tables_in_test |
| authors        |
| books          |
| series         |
3 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Notice that this displays a list of the tables in the database. If you didn't already have tables in your test database, your results should look the same as above. Let's now enter the following to get information about one of these tables:


| Field    | Type         | Null | Key | Default | Extra          |
| BookID   | int(11)      | NO   | PRI | NULL    | auto_increment |
| Title    | varchar(100) | NO   |     | NULL    |                |
| SeriesID | int(11)      | YES  |     | NULL    |                |
| AuthorID | int(11)      | YES  |     | NULL    |                |

The main bit of information of interest to us is the Field column. The other columns provide useful information about the structure and type of data in the database, but the Field column gives us the names, which is needed to retrieve data from the table.

Let's retrieve data from the books table. We'll do so by executing a SELECT statement like so:

SELECT * FROM books;

| BookID | Title                      | SeriesID | AuthorID |
|      1 | The Fellowship of the Ring |        1 |        1 |
|      2 | The Two Towers             |        1 |        1 |
|      3 | The Return of the King     |        1 |        1 |
|      4 | The Sum of All Men         |        2 |        2 |
|      5 | Brotherhood of the Wolf    |        2 |        2 |
|      6 | Wizardborn                 |        2 |        2 |
|      7 | The Hobbbit                |        0 |        1 |
7 rows in set (0.00 sec)

This SQL statement or query asks the database to show us all of the data in the books table. The wildcard ('*') character indicates to select all columns.

Inserting Data

Suppose now that we want to add another book to this table. We'll add the book, Lair of Bones. To insert data into a table, you would use the INSERT statement. To insert information on a book, we would enter something like this:

INSERT INTO books (Title, SeriesID, AuthorID)
VALUES ("Lair of Bones", 2, 2);

Query OK, 1 row affected (0.00 sec)

Notice that we put a list of columns in parentheses after the name of the table, then we enter the keyword VALUES followed by a list of values in parentheses--in the same order as the columns were listed. We could put the columns in a different order, as long as the values are in the same order as we list the columns. Notice the message that was returned indicates that the execution of the SQL statement went fine and one row was entered.

Execute the following SQL statement again and see what results are returned:

SELECT * FROM books;

You should see the data you just entered on the last row of the results. In looking at the data for the other books, suppose we notice that the title of the seventh book is spelled wrong. It should be spelled The Hobbit, not The Hobbbit. We will need to update the data for that row.

Modifying Data

To change data in a table, you will use the UPDATE statement. Let's change the spelling of the book mentioned above. To do this, enter the following:

UPDATE books 
SET Title = "The Hobbit" 
WHERE BookID = 7;

Query OK, 1 row affected (0.00 sec)
Rows matched: 1  Changed: 1  Warnings: 0

Notice the syntax of this SQL statement. The SET clause is where you list the columns and the values to set them. The WHERE clause says that you want to update only rows in which the BookID column has a value of 7, of which there are only one. You can see from the message it returned that one row matched the WHERE clause and one row was changed. There are no warnings because everything went fine. Execute the SELECT from earlier to see that the data changed.

As you can see, using MariaDB isn't very difficult. You just have to understand the syntax of SQL since it doesn't allow for typing mistakes or things in the wrong order or other deviations.

See Also


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