As you noted the directions on Mysql need some tweaking.
Yes you need to perform a make install.
You really need to spend some time reading the mysql installation documentation. Pay attention to the Unix issues, including the post-install and security issues.
There are some rather unique situations which popped up during my install, unfortunately I did not record them all for posterity. I do know that I now have a working Mysql, PHP, PHPMyadmin configuration. Be mindful that the small processor on the mybook soars to 99.8% (top session) during every mysql request. I'm using it as a playground for different CMS ideas I have but i expect every request to cause a slow down.
You'll need to do at least some (if not all) of the following as root:
cp support-files/my-medium.cnf /etc/my.cnf
vi /etc/my.conf #make any changes you need to make and save the file using <escape> :wq
When you try to start the mysql server it will complain about missing libraries so do the following to fix that.
(this will open the file ld.so.conf which is where library locations are identified.
The double arrow "»" means write to the end of the file)
Now it's time to prepare the installation directory to be owned by the mysql user and group which you created earlier using addgroup -g 40 mysql and
adduser -G mysql -H mysql
cd /usr/share/mysql # this is the installation directory of mysql
chown -R mysql . #Changes ownership from root to user mysql
chgrp -R mysql . # ditto for group ownership
/usr/bin/mysql_install_db --user=mysql # this will install the mysql data directory and initialize the grant tables.
chown -R root .
chown -R mysql var
There are some security concerns before you really get going too. This is from the docs:(read the manual, manual good!)
After installing MySQL, there are some issues that you should address.
…On all platforms, an important security concern is that the initial accounts in the grant tables have no passwords.
You should assign passwords to prevent unauthorized access to the MySQL server.
Optionally, you can create time zone tables to enable recognition of named time zones.
Take some time to read some of the post install documentation. Be mindful of course that the directories and file locations you see in the docs might be different from what you're seeing in your MBWE.
Especially vital is a section on Securing the Initial MySQL Accounts <= Read This!
When you're all set, start the server:
mysqld_safe --user=mysql &
If you want it to autostart when you boot:
cp /usr/share/mysql/mysql.server /etc/init.d/