found option without preceding group in config file /etc/my.cnf at line 1
A google search for this snippet turned up the following StackOverflow thread:
Apparently, the /etc/my.cnf config file for mysql/mariadb only supports ASCII! This was quite a shock, because I know UTF-8 support is now built-into both databases.
I verified that /etc/my.cnf was indeed encoded as UTF-8 text using the file utility:
$ file /etc/my.cnf
To convert text within a file from one encoding to another, use the iconv utility:
iconv -c -f utf8 -t ascii /etc/my.cnf
Explanation of the option flags (from man iconv):
-c silently discard chars that cannot be converted instead of terminating when encountering such chars
In 2015, virtually all POSIX programs get along just fine with UTF8, so why does mysql/mariadb have a problem with UTF8 in my.cnf? This bit of techno-trivia has now been added to my growing body Linux sysadmin lore, but this should issue should be fixed, in my opinion.