For security reason, usually (and it should) root access won’t be allowed from remote address. So how do we can access mysql server using root credential from remote address? The usual way is, we access our remote server via ssh then access mysql from command line (shell).

The problem is, with this method we can’t use graphical mysql client such as Mysql Workbench (assuming we run headless server). So how do we access mysql with root credential securely?

The simple answer is to use ssh tunneling. The workflow goes like this:

  • login to remote server using ssh credential
  • create a tunnel to mapping remote port to local port
  • access remote service (port) using that has been mapped to local machine

With this method, when we access the service it will be treated that we access via local machine. To start an ssh tunneling run this command

ssh -f -N -M -S /tmp/mysql.sock -L3310:localhost:3306 remote_user@remote_server


-fRequests ssh to go to background just before command execution. This is useful if ssh is going to ask for passwords or passphrases, but the user wants it in the background. This implies -n. The recommended way to start X11 programs at a remote site is with something like ssh -f host xterm.
-NDo not execute a remote command. This is useful for just forwarding ports (protocol version 2 only).
-MPlaces the ssh client into “master” mode for connection sharing. Refer to the description of ControlMaster in ssh_config(5) for details.
-S ctl_pathSpecifies the location of a control socket for connection sharing. Refer to the description of ControlPath and ControlMaster in ssh_config(5) for details.
-L [bind_address:]port:host:hostportSpecifies that the given port on the local (client) host is to be forwarded to the given host and port on the remote side. This works by allocating a socket to listen to port on the local side, optionally bound to the specified bind_address. Whenever a connection is made to this port, the connection is forwarded over the secure channel, and a connection is made to host port hostport from the remote machine. Port forwarding can also be specified in the configuration file. IPv6 addresses can be specified with an alternative syntax: [bind_address/]port/host/hostport or by enclosing the address in square brackets. Only the superuser can forward privileged ports. By default, the local port is bound in accordance with the GatewayPorts setting. However, an explicit bind_address may be used to bind the connection to a specific address. The bind_address of “localhost” indicates that the listening port be bound for local use only, while an empty address or ‘*’ indicates that the port should be available from all interfaces.

After tunneling is done, we can accessing mysql server using root credential.

mysql -u root --host= --port=3310 -p

Of course we can use graphical interface to access this mysql tunnel.

Note: we need to explicitly specify which host and port we want to access. If in our local machine has mysql service already running, using –host=localhost or without –host flag will ignore which port we want to access since mysql using unix socket to manage connection

Stopping tunneling

Simply run this command to stop ssh tunneling

ssh -S /tmp/mysql-tunnel.sock -O exit remote_user@remote_server