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Why is there no space in the MySQL password parameter?

2 minute read #cli, #command-line, #database, #mysql, #terminal

After troubleshooting a MySQL issue with a colleague we began discussing a “feature” of the MySQL command line which insists that you don’t put a space in the password parameter when using the short parameter. We both felt that it was rather inconsistent to allow the usage of -h hostname or -u username but insist on -ppassword instead of -p password. You can of course use the full parameter --password=password but as most people use the shorthand commands it just seems slightly unintuitive.

After doing a bit of reading it appears that this is due to the value being optional. If you don’t specify a password in the command it will prompt you for one, therefore if you had the option to include a space it wouldn’t be able to tell if you’ve specified a password or the next parameter. This still seems a little kludgy to me but I guess there is some reasoning behind it.

Here is the official reasoning from the MySQL website.

For a long option that takes a value, separate the option name and the value by an = sign. For a short option that takes a value, the option value can immediately follow the option letter, or there can be a space between: -hlocalhost and -h localhost are equivalent. An exception to this rule is the option for specifying your MySQL password. This option can be given in long form as -password=pass_val or as -password. In the latter case (with no password value given), the program prompts you for the password. The password option also may be given in short form as -ppass_val or as -p. However, for the short form, if the password value is given, it must follow the option letter with no intervening space. The reason for this is that if a space follows the option letter, the program has no way to tell whether a following argument is supposed to be the password value or some other kind of argument.

Source - http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.5/en/command-line-options.html

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