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What error message do you get when you start the server as a non-root user? Exactly what command do you use to try to start the server? Do you error logs show anything? What user owns the mysql var directory?
Originally posted by joel112 there is no mysql var directory...
Typically if you install mysql to the default /usr/local/mysql (the default from source anyway) your databases are stored in /usr/local/mysql/var this is also where your error log would be, which would probably tell you the problem. Search for a file called hostname.err - so if your server is called "linuxdb" then you would search for linuxdb.err. You can accomplish this by using
find / -type f -name hostname.err
Once you find the file have a look at what its telling you.
a dirty fix...but, in slack, is there an rc.local? if so, throw the startup command in there and it should start when u boot up. you could try that until you get the other rc file to work correctly i guess.