June 24, 2011

If you’ve ever used PhpMyAdmin before, you’ll know it can be quite handy, especially for people like me who always forget SQL’s syntax.
I even use it for simple tasks just so I can see what SQL it generated and it even has a handy “Create PHP Code” button to give me a baseline to start hacking the query to suit my situation.

This is great for local setups, but sometimes I need to do a query a production database where PhpMyAdmin is not installed and its alot easier to inspect the data of big tables with a gui (at least for me anyway).

Another helpful tip that I picked up from my new work place (thanks Rich) is to make PhpMyAdmin connect to a remote database via an SSH tunnel.
It requires a small config change to PhpMyAdmin, but it works a charm!

To differentiate between a tunnelled database and the local one, you need to configure your web server to serve up PhpMyAdmin from an additional URL, such as http://localhost/phpremoteadmin in addition to the standard http://localhost/phpmyadmin.

I added a second alias for PhpMyAdmin in /etc/apache2/conf.d/phpmyadmin.conf to look like this:

Alias /phpmyadmin /usr/share/phpmyadmin
Alias /phpremoteadmin /usr/share/phpmyadmin

Then, I modified my /etc/phpmyadmin/ to include this:

// If phpremoteadmin is requested, use an ssh tunnel on 6666
// Note: This doesn’t create the tunnel, use ~/bin/mysql_remote
if (substr_count($_SERVER[“REQUEST_URI”], “phpremoteadmin”) > 0) {
$cfg[‘Servers’][$i][‘connect_type’] = ‘tcp’;
$cfg[‘Servers’][$i][‘port’] = ‘6666’;
$cfg[‘Servers’][$i][‘host’] = ‘’;

Basically that means if the request is for /phpremoteadmin, look for the database on port 6666 instead of the preconfigured database port.

You’l have to reload apache for these changes to take effect:
sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 reload

Then you need a SSH tunnel from your local port 6666 to the servers port 3306 (where mysql is normally listening). To create this tunnel, you can use:

ssh -L 6666:localhost:3306 $USER@$HOST

But, to make it easier, I use (a slight variation) of this script:


if [ $# -lt 1 ] || [ $# -gt 2 ]; then
  echo “Usage: $0 host1 [host2]”
  exit 2


[ -z “$2” ] || DBHOST=”$2”

echo “Browse to: http://localhost/phpremoteadmin”
ssh -L 6666:$DBHOST:3306 $USER@$HOST

The script also allows you to pass in an optional argument of the host where the database is.
By default, that is localhost (the remote server’s localhost).
This is useful if you can only ssh to a gateway server and the database is on another server within that remote network that you wouldn’t normally be able to ssh directly to.

This has been really helpful, so I wanted to share :)

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