10.1.3.1 Server Character Set and Collation

MySQL Server has a server character set and a server collation. These can be set at server startup on the command line or in an option file and changed at runtime.

Initially, the server character set and collation depend on the options that you use when you start mysqld. You can use --character-set-server for the character set. Along with it, you can add --collation-server for the collation. If you don't specify a character set, that is the same as saying --character-set-server=latin1. If you specify only a character set (for example, latin1) but not a collation, that is the same as saying --character-set-server=latin1 --collation-server=latin1_swedish_ci because latin1_swedish_ci is the default collation for latin1. Therefore, the following three commands all have the same effect:

shell> mysqld
shell> mysqld --character-set-server=latin1
shell> mysqld --character-set-server=latin1 \
           --collation-server=latin1_swedish_ci

One way to change the settings is by recompiling. If you want to change the default server character set and collation when building from sources, use: --with-charset and --with-collation as arguments for configure. For example:

shell> ./configure --with-charset=latin1

Or:

shell> ./configure --with-charset=latin1 \
           --with-collation=latin1_german1_ci

Both mysqld and configure verify that the character set/collation combination is valid. If not, each program displays an error message and terminates.

The server character set and collation are used as default values if the database character set and collation are not specified in CREATE DATABASE statements. They have no other purpose.

The current server character set and collation can be determined from the values of the character_set_server and collation_server system variables. These variables can be changed at runtime.