well apache is not a prerequisite for mysql. they are both independent self-functioning products. now when you put them together along with let's say php, it would enable you to build dynamic webpages. In other words mysql would become the database of information for they dynamic pages to be build from. now to start mysql, (it should be the same in every distro i think) but I compile mine from source so upon completion of make and make install, i navigate to /usr/local/mysql/bin (the default installation location). Look around and see if you can find it. then in the prompt ( root access is required to start and stop it) in the bin directory of mysql, type:
this will start the daemon, and by pressing enter you now get the prompt back. next sign on in.
you may want to look into putting a start script, so it'll start on bootup.