The question, as it was on ServerFault can be found here and the SuperUser version can be found here. It's clearly server related - I'm trying to establish a local database server for use in development. This is the same software that resides on servers that power websites and enterprise applications - if anyone was to be able to answer my question, it would be the people who regularly install and maintain database servers, not the typical household PC user that you can find on SuperUser.

My understanding is that ServerFault is for server and commercial-grade networking questions, and this is clearly a server question. The name of the software is "MySQL Server Instance Configuration and I'm attempting to use this software in a professional (as opposed to individual/personal) capacity. Because of this, I would like this question moved back here. Is this possible?

Before I posted my question on ServerFault, I went through this thought process when reading the FAQ:

Server Fault is for system administrators and IT professionals, people who manage or maintain computers in a professional capacity. If you are in charge of …

I am currently acting in the role of system administrator for a network of two computers that I am using as development environments for software development. Although I'm not getting paid to do it, I am clearly a system administrator of these machines and am attempting to manage and maintain them in a professional capacity (as opposed to recreational or entertainment use) - I'm trying to further my abilities professionally as a software engineer by taking on personal development projects.



many desktop PCs

(other than your own) … then you're in the right place to ask your question! Well, as long as the question is about your servers, your networks, or desktops you support, anyway.

I'm attempting to install server software on a computer. I interpret this as an "or" statement - if I meet one criteria for a given question, my question is within the scope of ServerFault. I do admit that I own the machines. But so would a system administrator if he was the owner or co-owner of a business. The software and hardware in question is supported by me.

The only possible point of contention to topicality is the number of conditions that must be met. I feel that as long as one is met, the question is on topic. If I'm running a server (whether it's Apache HTTP Server, a MySQL Server, a MS-SQL Server, or a PostgreSQL Server) or if I'm running a network in a professional capacity (I wouldn't try to pass off my cobbled together network solution in my house as a professionally run network - I would take those questions to SuperUser) or if I'm working across multiple computers, my question is fair game for being on-topic. However, a strict interpretation would require that two or even all three conditions are met - if you aren't running your systems in an enterprise environment, take it to SuperUser. I believe that the fact that I met one of these conditions in a capacity directly related to me functioning professionally, I've met the criteria for being on-topic.

Please note that Server Fault is not for general computer troubleshooting questions; if you paid for that desktop hardware, and it's your personal workstation, it is unlikely that your question is appropriate for Server Fault.

It's not a general troubleshooting question. I have a specific question regarding a piece of server software and it's installation/configuration. Yes, it says that my question is not likely to be appropriate, but every other condition has been met.

Please do look around to see if your question has already been asked (and maybe even answered!) before you ask. It's also perfectly fine to ask and answer your own question, as long as you pretend you're on Jeopardy: phrase it in the form of a question.

My specific question has not been answered, but there are indeed a number of other questions relating to supporting MySQL Server installations, both the freely available GA release and the commercially supported software packages.

4 Answers 4


This was mentioned already, but I wanted to be very concise. Admins in the field will not (in general) install ANY server apps onto desktop OSs. Whether or not you feel that this is true, or fair, or relevant demonstrates a lack of broad, practical experience.

That's ok.

As others have stated, SU - as a hobbyist site - has a lot to offer in terms of advice on nonstandard or unsupported configs. Often, the problem is with people perceiving SU experts as 'lesser' somehow. They have different skillsets. Fact is, you have a much better chance of finding someone who's got experience with that scenario on SU than SF.

No offense intended, but you're installing something with 'server' in its name doesn't make the activity 'server administration' any more than standing in a garage makes me a car. Perl is technically programming, but if I took such questions to SO, I hope they'd migrate it to SF. Hopefully that makes it a little clearer.

  • 1
    That's very true. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that Super User is somehow a lesser site. The fact of the matter is though to be able to find a problem on 10,000 different combinations of softwrae, hardware, virii, spyware, etc is probably a far harder challenge than keeping servers online. Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 4:06

However, configuring an environment to support software development is a professional concern

But that was not what your question was about. Your question basically is just the install failed, how do I fix it. Nothing about they way you asked the question tells me that it is about system administration. You aren't asking about permissions, or optimization, backups or anything that really would fit into system administration.

The answer to your question has more to do with desktop support then system administration. Most likely you have some security tool running, or permissions messed up. Or perhaps you downloaded a bad copy of the file.

Honestly the question as written isn't that great and may not get a good answer anywhere. I doubt anyone can give you a good answer since we don't have enough information.

  • I'm pretty sure that installation is part of configuration. And if my question isn't good enough to provide an answer to, then people should leave comments asking for more information. That's what comments are for (well, one of the things they are for). Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 19:49
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    @Thomas, software installation on one computer is desktop administration; not system administration. If you were rolling it out to every computer on a network, that would be different. As for question quality: Garbage in = Garbage out. People normally do comment, but we're not getting paid for this.
    – Chris S
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 17:25

The discussion about more basic questions on Server Fault is currently going on at Perception of purpose . One complaint is about Server Fault being "Developer Support" which it really should not be. It is a place for professional system administrators to answer questions of other system administrators (regardless of level it seems so far). I am guessing that might have been Jeff's reason but I can't say for sure.

As far as people setting up MySQL on Super User they do it all the time. It is used for the backend of things like MythTV etc.

  • There's a difference between "developer support" and "a developer also administrating his/her own system". At work, I have system administrators to support me. At home, it's just me - I am the system administrator and if I have problems, I should be able to turn to other people who act in the system administrator capacity for help, instead of power users. Commented Jul 25, 2010 at 23:13
  • I'm also writing up an "answer" to that link. Thanks for that. Commented Jul 25, 2010 at 23:21
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    There's a difference between setting up MySQL for supporting MythTV and setting up a MySQL Server Instance to support software development projects. Using MySQL to support MythTV is probably not related to professional IT work (unless it's your job to go around and configure MythTV installations). However, configuring an environment to support software development is a professional concern. Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 3:27

I can't speak for Jeff but if i was to guess would be that you are not talking about a server OS, and not talking about deploying mysql to many desktops.

from the FAQ

Please note that Server Fault is not for general computer troubleshooting questions

Which from the first paragraph of your question this seems to be. At best it is a borderline question since you are dealing wtih mysql server on a desktop. I probably would have voted to move to SU though.

in response to the comment thread.
There are two components to "does the question fit here" when we are talking about desktops.

  1. Who is my audience, or more appropriately would this audience be a suitable set of people to answer my question.
  2. What is the scope of the question.

I would weight these 80% scope, 20% audience.

For criteria 1: With your particular question, I would say ... maybe, yes the people here have a lot of experience with MySQL, however this is balanced by the fact that probably 90% of that experience is on Server class hardware and software.

For criteria 2: No your question does not fit the scope of the site at all.

For example, lets take these two very generic questions:

I'm trying to install $program on $DesktopOS. When i install, I'm having $problem

This is a question who's scope is that of a single user having an issue on a single machine. It is definitely not in SF's scope. The answer is going to be a fix applied to a particular workstation once.

Now, consider the following

I'm trying to install $program on 1000 desktops running $DesktopOS the package gets pushed fine, but then $problem happens

This second example is definitely withing scope of SF.

You are focusing on the less important audience part, where for desktop OS issues scoping is much more important.

  • That makes no sense to me. It doesn't matter where you deploy a MySQL server - it's still a server. I'm running a professional grade OS (Windows 7 Professional x64), a commercial-grade server software installation (MySQL Server), in a professional environment (my development machine as opposed to my gaming machine). To me, those are the three characteristics that you need for a question to be appropriate for Server Fault. Commented Jul 25, 2010 at 21:40
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    @Thomas it's not so much 'professional grade OS' as either an actual server OS (on server hardware IMHO) or a desktop OS on many machines. What you are actually talking about in that question is installing a piece of software onto a single machine. Also in the linked FAQ right at the beginning "If you are in charge of Servers,Networks, or many desktop PCs". None of that applies to this question. Like I said it is a borderline question because you happen to be installing a service that is generally run on servers.
    – Zypher
    Commented Jul 25, 2010 at 21:48
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    Well, I'm pretty sure I'm not going to get any answers on Super User, which is the biggest problem. What it all comes down to is "where are the people who know the answer". The people who frequent Super User aren't the kind of people who are running MySQL Servers on their machines. If I had a question about Word, PowerPoint, or my OS (with the exception of server OSes), Super User would be perfect. But if I get a single answer, I'd be extremely surprised. Commented Jul 25, 2010 at 22:05
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    @Thomas I wouldn't be so sure, there are some really good people on there AND they are probably more likely to have installed mysql on win7 x64.
    – Zypher
    Commented Jul 25, 2010 at 22:43
  • But the thing is, the target audience (and my guess is most users) of SuperUser is the home PC user who spends most of their time using a web browser, a word processor, email client, and a home-friendly OS. There might be a good number of power users and knowledgeable people. On the other hand, the target audience of ServerFault are people who, for a living, install, configure, and maintain servers, including MySQL Servers, including on developer machines such as my own. At work, if I have a problem with MySQL, I turn to the admin, even if it is on my development machine because he knows best. Commented Jul 25, 2010 at 22:50
  • In response to your edits: I have a question about server-class software. The hardware and operating system in my problem do not matter. The problem clearly lies not with the hardware or the OS, but the server software - that software is what crashes. Second, the problem happens when I am in the role of a system administrator, installing my server software. Third, it doesn't matter if I'm installing to 1 computer or 1000 - this is clearly a system administration problem that is preventing me from getting my job as a software engineer done. I'm asking my question from one sysadmin to another. Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 2:34
  • @Thomas, that is the definition of the site as stated in the FAQ. I'm not sure what part of many desktops you are not getting. Even though i can't read @Jeff's mind, you are asking a question that is about one desktop not many, and that is out of scope for serverfault. If i had asked the same question it would have been migrated too, and rightly so.
    – Zypher
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 3:12
  • My question has been edited to address every point made in the FAQ that defines the topicality of ServerFault. My question is clearly on topic. Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 3:25
  • Thomas: I run MySQL on Linux servers professionally, not developer's Windows workstations. You're not entitled to support just because you think it's in scope. You can manipulate semantics all you like but it will not change anything.
    – Warner
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 4:24
  • Well, that's your particular job. I know of system admins whose job includes the maintaining (or assisting with the maintenance) of development environments, including local development environments on developer machines. Just because you don't professionally do something doesn't mean that other people don't. Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 10:37
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    The development environment runs on the same platform that production runs on. I'm confident that any reasonable IT shop does not run MySQL on Windows 7 workstations in production.
    – Warner
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 13:18
  • You'd be surprised. I've seen places that used three-tier servers (dev, test, production). Test and production were identical linux boxes. Dev was a laptop running Linux. And everyone developed locally on their Windows machines before pushing to dev. Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 19:51
  • If this was purely about audience then your question would be more appropriate on stackoverflow. Where you would likely find lots of people running mysql on dev boxes.
    – Zoredache
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 17:07
  • Also you try to make the point that the OS doesn't matter at all, but that is almost certainly not true. It is likely you have some other piece of software on your workstation that is causing problems. Obviously mysql installs on the majority of computer out in the world or the mysql devs would be fixing the installer and sending out and update. A database server is frequently box that only a database server and doesn't have any other crud installed to confuse matters.
    – Zoredache
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 17:09

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