On RHEL uses a memory efficient /etc/my.cnf file. If you install MySQL on a Debian server, edit the key_buffer_size setting in /etc/mysql/my.cnf. A small value like 2M often works well. For an ultra-tiny setup add or change the follow entries to the mysqld section:

# if your are not using the innodb table manager, then just skip it to save some memory
innodb_buffer_pool_size = 16k
key_buffer_size = 16k
myisam_sort_buffer_size = 16k
query_cache_size = 1M

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