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MySQL performance tuning (for sysadmins) Need help

So, I'll be honest, this is a weak area for me.

Whenever I've been tasked with mysql performance tuning, I end up reading the mysql documentation a lot. And I usually end up setting values that will maximize RAM usage (hopefully, as much as I can get away with) and minimize disk IO. (hopefully) That's about all I know. And I usually don't retain a lot of information from these exercises, probably because I don't play 'web developer' in my spare time enough to understand the nitty-gritty.

To be honest, usually I avoid mysql tuning issues, and leave them to others who are more experienced with it, but I'd like to change that.

Part of me thinks that no sysadmin really understands how to tune mysql for a specific environment, unless they are also a developer, but I want to be wrong about that.

Can someone school me? How can I learn more about mysql tuning from a sysadmin perspective, and in general?


I'm using graphite with collectd + custom mysql plugin modifications. Mysql test sites to begin with: sysbench.sourceforge and

Also: use Percona Toolkit for your essay typer tasks. MySQLTuner-perl is rather good too.