You can start a mysql server in a console with mysqld. This will start a mysql server with default settings. If you want to run a mysql server with special settings then you can use the defaults-file parameter to specify your configuration.

On ubuntu 14.04 with mysqld 5.5 I get a fatal error by using the defaults-file parameter.

Issue on ubuntu

As described for mysql_install_db we must stop apparmor before using the defaults-file parameter. With a running apparmor service we getting a similar error message:
Could not open required defaults file: /etc/mysql-1/my.cnf

Stopping apparmor will solve this issue.

This means if you want to run a mysql server by using the defaults-file parameter then you must stop using apparmor.

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