Arjen Lentz (“Community Relations Manager” for MySQL AB) posted “The MySQL 5.0 Beta Challenge” on his blog today – so in the spirit of community I decided to give it a crack, by putting together some posts on the new features of MySQL 5.0 up here to my humble blog. Who knows – I may win a mug! Then I can have a list of ALL the people to bug over at MySQL AB!

I’m a DBA at heart, so whilst I’ll take a look at the new features that are available for developers, I’m going to start from the DBA tack, and take a look at INFORMATION_SCHEMA.

So what is the INFORMATION_SCHEMA? Those that have used other RDBMS’ in the past will recognize it as MySQL’s “Data Dictionary”. An RDBMS Data Dictionary is a collection of tables or views (that appear as tables), that utilize the database metadata to give easy access to information about the objects (tables, indexes, procedures, functions, views etc.) within the database, as well as information on things such security/privileges, performance statistics, auditing trails etc.

On installing MySQL 5.0, and issuing “SHOW DATABASES;” you will immediately see “information_schema” listed. The INFORMATION_SCHEMA is implemented to look like a database in it’s own right. However, it doesn’t conform with the conventional database privilege system. You can “USE” it, but you can’t run any type of DML against it. GRANT does seem to work against it, but attempting to run a DELETE results in an error.

mysql> use information_schema;
Database changed
mysql> show grants;
| Grants for mark@localhost                                            |
| GRANT USAGE ON *.* TO 'mark'@'localhost'                             |
| GRANT SELECT, DELETE ON `information_schema`.* TO 'mark'@'localhost' |
2 rows in set (0.00 sec)

mysql> delete from information_schema.tables;
ERROR 1288 (HY000): The target table tables of the DELETE is not updatable

“What good are they to me?”

Well, one question I’ve seen a lot around IRC is “Can I use the output of a SHOW command in a statement, such as a subquery?”. This mostly comes down to something to do with SHOW TABLES – getting databases sizes, table sizes etc. SHOW TABLES still works in 5.0, as do all other SHOW commands, however, INFORMATION_SCHEMA.TABLES now also parses the exact same output. Think of it of as view (more on these later) against the SHOW TABLES command. The great thing about this is we can now use conventional SQL to use these values – we no longer have to write external scripts to do what SUM() can do, for example. So here’s one for those guys on IRC that want to find out how big their databases are from SQL:

SELECT s.schema_name,
       CONCAT(IFNULL(ROUND((SUM(t.data_length)+SUM(t.index_length))/1024/1024,2),0.00),'Mb') total_size,
       CONCAT(IFNULL(ROUND(((SUM(t.data_length)+SUM(t.index_length))-SUM(t.data_free))/1024/1024,2),0.00),'Mb') data_used,
       CONCAT(IFNULL(ROUND(SUM(data_free)/1024/1024,2),0.00),'Mb') data_free,
       IFNULL(ROUND((((SUM(t.data_length)+SUM(t.index_length))-SUM(t.data_free))/((SUM(t.data_length)+SUM(t.index_length)))*100),2),0) pct_used,
       COUNT(table_name) total_tables
  FROM information_schema.schemata s
LEFT JOIN information_schema.tables t ON s.schema_name = t.table_schema
 WHERE s.schema_name != 'information_schema'
GROUP BY s.schema_name

*****************1. row **************
 schema_name: test
  total_size: 0.06Mb
   data_used: 0.06Mb
   data_free: 0.00Mb
    pct_used: 100.00
total_tables: 2
*****************2. row **************
 schema_name: flightstats
  total_size: 2950.14Mb
   data_used: 2949.71Mb
   data_free: 0.43Mb
    pct_used: 99.99
total_tables: 81

So now we can get the information we want, in the format we want. We can also JOIN the INFORMATION_SCHEMA tables to create better reports – such as above, if there are no actual tables in a database, they won’t be shown within INFORMATION_SCHEMA.TABLES, so to get a full report on all databases, we LEFT JOIN from INFORMATION_SCHEMA.SCHEMATA.

This also leads us in to getting helpful information on any object optimizations easily. Perhaps you have performed an archive of a lot of data, and want to reclaim freespace. You want to find all tables with > 40% of the datafile free, so that you can perform an OPTIMIZE TABLE against them:

SELECT table_name,
       ROUND(((t.data_length+t.index_length)-t.data_free)/(t.data_length+t.index_length)*100) pct_used
  FROM information_schema.tables t
 WHERE table_schema = 'flightstats'
HAVING pct_used < 60
ORDER BY table_name;</blockquote>

Let’s take this one step further – now we can actually use MySQL to generate the scripts that we’ve had to use an external scripting language to achieve. Let’s focus on another question often asked on IRC – “How do I drop all my tables, without dropping my database?” – previous to MySQL 5.0 the answer is “get table_name from the output of SHOW TABLES, and loop through this with your scripting language of choice, running a DROP TABLE command for each one”.

Now let’s use the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, and SQL to do the job for us:

SELECT CONCAT('DROP TABLE ',table_name,';')
  INTO OUTFILE '/sql/drop_tables.sql'
  FROM information_schema.tables
 WHERE table_schema = 'test';

Now all we have to do is “SOURCE /sql/drop_tables.sql;” and all of the tables in the test database will be gone, and we didn’t have to leave the mysql command line interface! Don’t try this on your production schemas kids!

Or to go back to our OPTIMIZE TABLE:

  INTO OUTFILE '/sql/optimize_tables.sql'
  FROM information_schema.tables
 WHERE table_schema = 'flightstats'
AND ROUND(((data_length+index_length)-data_free)/(data_length+index_length)*100) < 60;<

This makes life a lot easier! There are a number of other INFORMATION_SCHEMA tables, but I won’t go in to all of those now. We can use these to get information on grants, build grant scripts, get information about indexes, columns, foreign keys etc. For instance – it’s probably possible now to perform “fuzzy” foreign key matches – searching for columns that are named the same within different tables, that may not necessarily be the InnoDB engine. As I put together more scripts in readiness for 5.0, I’ll post them here, and to the other site that I run – (which I haven’t really started filling yet!! But it’s wiki! ;))

It should be noted that all users have access to the INFORMATION_SCHEMA. They will however only be able to see the objects for which they have some privileges on.

6 thoughts on “MySQL 5.0 – INFORMATION_SCHEMA”

  1. Hi Roland,

    Thanks for these, I was already aware of the work that both you and Andrew are doing with – great work by the way!

    Arjen Lentz also added the image to his blog for the ERD, which again is great work!

    I see Andrew is also based in london (I added his blog to my blogroll yesterday) – give him a nudge and see if he would be interested in doing anything with the MySQL London Meetup group? It would be good to see some groups within the UK becoming active!!

  2. Hi the article was useful.

    I have a MySQL 5.0.7 beta database and I always get the data_free set to “0” is this a bug or some issue with my tables.

    All the tables in my database show “0” for data_free and Max_data_length.

    Can U please clarify on this. I am on Linux mandrake 10.x

  3. Hi,

    Yes, perhaps I should have noted this in my entry above – this is actually due to the way that InnoDB updates these statistics. Free space for InnoDB tables is actually reported at the “tablespace” level, within the “Comment” section of SHOW TABLE STATUS, and hence, within the TABLE_COMMENT field of INFORMATION_SCHEMA.TABLES as well. If you check your tables they are probably all InnoDB..

    If I get time I’ll see if I can get a more useful script, or perhaps stored procedure, to report on space usage that would apply to InnoDB as well.

    A procedure is probably the best bet, so I’ll try to include this in the article I have planned for procedures.

    Thanks for the comment!


  4. Hi

    I am trying to find the databases size with the script and accessing the tables
    when i run from root user he is able to get it, as i don’t want to give the root access to the one that runs the databases size i have a user and trying to give privileges like
    GRANT USAGE ON *.* TO ‘chandu’@’localhost’ identified by ‘chandu’
    GRANT SELECT, DELETE ON `information_schema`.* TO ‘chandu’@’localhost’ identified by ‘chandu’

    First 1st one suceeds an the seconds gives error saying
    ERROR 1044 (42000): Access denied for user ‘root’@’localhost’ to database ‘information_schema’
    Is there another way to give access to thoses tables in infomration schema.
    Waiting for reply
    Thanks and regards

  5. You can not grant privileges such as DELETE against the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, this is a read only database, that is purely a ‘view’ on the metadata.

    For a user to use the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, they simply need to have some privileges on the tables listed within the database(s) – such as SELECT.

    i.e given a database called ‘foo’, you would:

    GRANT SELECT ON foo.* TO â??chanduâ??@’localhostâ?? identified by â??chanduâ??;

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