pip install MySQL-python
and you're done... if you have the prerequisites. That's where it gets sticky.
The dreaded prerequisitesSince MySQLdb uses a C module to link against MySQL's client library, you will need:
- A C compiler and associated toolchain
- Python development headers and libraries
- MySQL development headers and libraries
LinuxMySQLdb was originally developed specifically for use on Linux, as it was the only platform I cared about at the time. Over time, several Linux distributions (Red Hat, Debian, Ubuntu, etc.) picked it up, created their own packages, and distributed them. If you are a Linux user, I recommend you use your distributions packages. But what if you can't, and you really do need to build your own? Install using pip. Each Linux distribution has packages for all the prerequisites, but the names of these packages vary. For Ubuntu (and probably Debian):
apt-get install build-essential python-dev libmysqlclient-dev
Other UNIX-ishMySQLdb has been a FreeBSD port for 12 years. Use it. Hey, if you're using FreeBSD or another *BSD, or Solaris, you probably don't need my help to install it...
Almost UNIX: Mac OS XMac OS X is very POSIX-like inside, and it so MySQLdb's setup treats it as POSIX, but it can get complicated. The simple part is: You need Xcode, which is Apple's compiler toolchain.
The easy wayBy far the easiest way to get MySQLdb on the Mac is to use one of the two major UNIX-ish package distributions: MacPorts or Homebrew. Of the two, I have only used MacPorts. Once upon a time, everything in MacPorts had to be built from sources, like a *BSD or Gentoo-style port system, but there are now binary packages for many things. Some people swear by Homebrew. Either one will make your life easier. MacPorts has a port for MySQLdb (py-mysql and variants). If Homebrew has a "formula", I can't find it, but a pip install should work once you have compatible versions of Python and MySQL.
The hard wayThe hard part about the Mac is, there are three architectures you could be building for: PowerPC, Intel 32-bit, and Intel 64-bit. We can safely ignore Motorola since Apple hasn't used them in a very long time, and PowerPC can be mostly ignored, but you still see some support for it. For example, the Python Apple distributes in Snow Leopard is a fat binary that includes code for PPC, i386, and x86_64. You might think this makes things easier, but it does not. If you're on any sort of modern Mac, it's going to use the x86_64 support. That means the version of MySQL you use also has to be built for x86_64. You can't mix and match.
Most people who are going to use Xcode instead of MacPorts or Homebrew are probably going to download binary packages of MySQL from mysql.com. They have separate 32-bit and 64-bit packaging, i.e. no fat binaries. You almost certainly want 64-bit packages. Another option is to download their Connector/C package, and here you will find 32-bit and 64-bit Intel and PowerPC as well. You could also download the source and build it yourself.
Once you have MySQL on your Mac, make sure you can run mysql_config from a shell. If it's not on your executable PATH, you'll have to hack on site.cfg to tell setup.py where it is.
One issue I have seen recently was ultimately an architecture mismatch problem, and even once that was fixed, the loader path had to be fixed in the environment, which is not ideal.
Windows sucksEven though Windows sucks, current versions of MySQLdb build on Windows without a lot of drama.
For the build toolchain, you must have Visual Studio 2008, and specifically you need vcsetup.exe for the C compiler. It has to be the 2008 version because that's the version the python.org Python packaging uses. (Of course, if you're building your own Python, you're on your own here.) Like with the Mac folks, you have 32-bit and 64-bit options. Choose the same one for Connector/C. If you are building a 32-bit package, it should work, period. 64-bit I'm not so sure about. But I've been building 32-bit MSI packages, and pip install should grab one of those if you're using a 32-bit Python, and that is really all you need.