Unobtrusive viewing of MySQL queries with tcpdump

words by Brian Racer

There are times when you need to monitor the queries coming in to MySQL, but turning on query logging would create too much of a disk I/O hit, or you can’t restart the server to setup MySQL Proxy. Instead we can just monitor the network traffic and extract data that might be interesting using tcpdump and an inline perl script:

sudo tcpdump -i lo -s 0 -l -w - dst port 3306 | strings | perl -e '
while(<>) { chomp; next if /^[^ ]+[ ]*$/;
    if (defined $q) { print "$q\n"; }
  } else {
    $_ =~ s/^[ \t]+//; $q.=" $_";

This will only work for clients communicating via TCP – if you are connecting through ‘localhost’ you will be going through a unix socket instead. If you switch ‘localhost’ to ‘’ then your queries will go through the network stack.

If you just want to dump the traffic to a file for a little bit and analyze it later, do this instead:

sudo tcpdump -i lo port 3306 -s 65535 -x -n -q -tttt> tcpdump.out

You can then use mk-query-digest from Maatkit with–type=tcpdump. See more about this at the MySQL Performance Blog.