If you ever read a technical discussion board, you’ll quickly come to the realization that the breakdown of people is maybe 90% people who have kind of figured out how to use the technology, 7% people who are power users, and 3% people who are experts. It’s an arbitrary breakdown, but it seems about right intuitively.
Consider something like Excel. Most people can use it to keep tabular data, and most of those even know how to calculate sums. But very few might have a clue how to use Pivot Tables or formulas spanning multiple sheets, and even fewer will know how to extend it.
MySQL is definitely the same way. A lot of MySQL users can install it on their server and make phpBB use it. They might not understand what MyISAM and InnoDB are or how they’re different, much less the pros and cons of each. And even fewer could make a halfway decent DBA. But the good news with MySQL is that some of that elite 3% of experts are very, very vocal, and doing really, really neat things. Jeremy Zawodny is the first name that comes to mind, and check out his The New MySQL Landscape post. And don’t miss Percona’s announcement of their GPL’ed XtraDB, a replacement for InnoDB that’s supposed to be optimized for performance on more powerful machines. Seems like it’s very new and meant for MySQL 5.1, which some pretty smart people have said isn’t ready for prime-time. One of the MySQL guys at Google has a post about his patches to make MySQL better scale to ‘big iron’ type systems, too. And then there’s Our Delta (found on the Jeremy Zawodny blog) which distributes various patched versions of MySQL. Some are especially intersting to me, like Fast Master Promotion which is designed to allow a slave MySQL box to be promoted to master pretty much instantly, or the KILL IF IDLE command, allowing you to issue KILL statements to a connection and have them not affect non-idle connections. UserStats would be really helpful to run on a development machine to see what your code is impacting.