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Linux SQL Databases and Tools

[ Recommended by Linux Journal! ] [Sitting Penguin] All major and most minor databases are now available on Linux (with the lone exception of MS-SQL). This is a sea-change compared to summer of 1996, when this list was slim indeed, listing mSQL, Postgres and a handful of others (Solid, Empress, Adabas). But at the end of 1998 and start of 1999, all of the major commercial DB vendors (IBM, Oracle, Informix, Ingres, Sybase) made their wares available on Linux, and there has been no going back. It was around that time that I lost interest in tracking new developments closely; thus, while I do make occasional stabs at updating this page, you may discover that it contains more link-rot than there should be.

This page is not a complete listing. Use the following cross-references to form a more complete picture.

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Open Source Databases

Even as Linux has garnered support by all of the major commercial database vendors, the freely available open source databases have grown in sophistication and features. Below follows a partial list of some of the more popular of these.

Please Note, in addition to the listings below, many of the commercial database vendors have free "personal edition" or "single user" policies that allow their products to be used free of charge at home or in non-commercial applications. The goal of these policies to allow users to evaluate their software free-of-charge, and to allow developers to port their applications without making a large financial investment.

SQLite Embeddable SQL Database Engine (New Listing!)
SQLite Embeddable SQL Database Engine is a C library that implements an entire SQL server. This allows application programmers to embed an SQL server directly into thier application. Note that this is not a client library, and it cannot be used to contact an SQL server.

McKoi SQL Database
The McKoi SQL Database is written entirely in Java. Supports transactions, referential integrity, triggers, indexes, Java-specific enhancements. Supports multi-threaded, multi-client operation; embedable. Released under the GPL license. This is probably the most advanced open-source pure-Java database out there.

The SAP DB is the liberation, under the GPL/LGPL license, of the SAP AG database. This is a major enterprise-class database.

hsql is a small, (100KB) fast, embeddable relational DB written entirely in Java. Supports only a subset of the SQL standard. A 'stable' version now available. Modified BSD license.

PostgreSQL is a powerful and complete SQL implementation that rivals commercial databases such as Oracle. This database (along with MySQL) is the leading GPL'ed database system for the GNU/Linux & BSD platforms. Commercial support is available from a company formed by the leading Postgres developers.

MySQL from MySQL AB is, with Postgres, one of the most popular GPL'ed databases for the GNU/Linux and BSD platforms.

The InterBase SQL server from InterBase Corp. is the well-known InterBase database released under an open source (MPL) license. In case you are wondering why you haven't heard of InterBase before, note that they were recently spun off from Inprise, which is, of course, the new name for Borland.

Machine Independent Software offers the CQL++ DBMS. Originally developed originally as a full-featured commercial software product, it is currently available under several licenses, including the GNU GPL. (The free version is under GPL, non-free, non-GPL versions are available at reasonable cost.) The feature list mentions the following:

Gadfly is a small, portable database system written entirely in python and specifically intended for python programmers. Database files are portable from Win95 to Linux. Source code freely available, and is commercially supported by Chordate Systems.

GigaBASE and FastDB
GigaBASE (US Mirror) and FastDB (US Mirror) are memory & file-based databases with an SQL-like query language. Because they compile into an application, they avoid most of the DB management problems of client-server. BSD-like license.

GNU SQL from Russia ... project development seems to have stalled in 1998.

Commercial SQL Databases

There are a large number of database vendors that support Linux. It is difficult to review these accurately in a small space, yet, based on some highly subjective criteria, I've attempted just that. As you shop for a database, you should make your own list of the features and functions that you believe are important for your application. Remember that the "best" database is not necessarily the one with the greatest number of features, or the lowest price. For your needs, it may be raw performance for small queries, or it may be ease of administration of a database with tens of millions of records. Remember that whichever database you choose, you will be living with it for many years.

This section (of commercial databases) is no longer actively maintained. After all of the 'big boys' announced availability on Linux in 1998, so did everyone else, and it has become impossible/impractical to attempt to list all of the commercial databases available for Linux.

Mimer SQL is unique in that it focuses on providing a small-footprint database suitable for embedding into applications. Drivers for ODBC, JDBC, ESQL API's. Runs on most Unix's, as well as Windows and OpenVMS.

Cache is a "multi-dimensional data engine", based on ANSI MUMPS, and thus popular in the medical world. Includes a SQL interfaces, ODBC drivers and an Apache web module.

DBMaker is a full-fledged commercial database. A sample of the features include:

IBM has announced availability and support for the DB2 for Linux database. The DB2 Universal Database is the flagship database: it boasts a long track record of large installations and rich & powerful features. Interesting twists include:

Computer Associates has announced the availability of its Ingres II database on Linux in 4Q98. It is currently available for beta testing.

Oracle has announced that it will be making available its Oracle 8 and 8.1 database products on Linux in 1Q99. A trial version is currently available for download.

Informix, now a division of IBM, has been offering a variety of its products on the Linux operating system for years. In particular, the SE Standard Engine database, ESQL/C and Connect are available on Linux as supported products. Free evaluation versions are available.

Informix-SE is a high-quality, powerful and feature-rich SQL database aimed at folks looking for a low-maintenance, easy-to-administer database.

Sybase is now offering Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) in the form of a free, unsupported release for Linux, for both development and deployment. Besides a raft of flagship-product capabilities, Sybase currently holds the world TPM/C speed record on a non-clustered SMP box.

Sybase also offers the OpenClient/C libraries in free, unsupported form. These libraries allow Linux clients to connect to Sybase server products. They are available in

There are various Open Source tools for Sybase:

The SOLID SQL Server is available from Solid Information Technology Ltd. These folks are interesting to look at for a number of reasons: they offer a free evaluation copy, they claim support on Linux SMP, and they provide clients for non-Linux systems that can talk to Linux servers.

Taking the enterprise computing viewpoint, Solid is particularly interesting because it provides a number of the features required in an industrial strength database. I've abstracted a sampling of these from their FAQ and server technology overview, but probably don't do it justice:

New: The Free Linux SOLID Desktop Campaign is promoting a two-connection version of the server.

Empress provides the EmpSQL database as well as a variety of add-on products, including Motif-based clients. Some EmpSQL features that caught my eye:

Adabas D
Adabas D from Software AG can be obtained from Caldera, S.u.S.E GmbH and S.u.S.E LLC; S.u.S.E. offer support contracts. The feature list rattles off the following:

A Menu-driven database administration tool supports:

Velocis Database Server
Raima's Velocis Database Server is a client/server SQL database engine that is built into thousands of commercial applications. It offers multiple API's, including an ANSI SQL C-API, a low-level C-API, C++ class libraries, and a custom API through Server Extensions. Velocis supports the relational database model and the pointer-based network database model, but for flexibility and performance, developers can combine these two database models. The Server Extension feature allows application code to be hosted directly on the database server, reducing network traffic.

The MiniSQL database from Hughes Technologies provides a simple, fast database that supports a subset of SQL. This is a popular, solid, widely used database and is superb for basic database applications. It comes with an extensive set of freeware tools, language bindings (e.g. Java, Perl, Tcl/tk), monitors, web interfaces, ODBC, JDBC bindings. It is packaged as shareware, and the current version comes in source code form. Its principal drawback is its lack of support for the industrial strength features such as transaction support and multi-tasking.

The Kubl Home Page describes a "High Performance, Compact DBMS Server [and] Replication Server [with] ODBC Client API, SQL [and] Stored Procedures [support]" It runs on NT and most Unix's. The Linux pricing for this is *very* *sweet*, just a small fraction of the price for other OS/s.

YARD Software GmbH offers YARD-SQL. This appears to be a high-end package, with a large variety of features; among them an X11/Motif interface. Some randomly selected features:

The SQL Relational Database System from JustLogic Technologies. Their feature list should be consulted for details; some features that caught my eye are:

Frontbase has many supported features.

Halcyon Software is known for its Windows-Unix cross platform tools. It offers the DBIX SQL database. Some salient features:

LNX-DBMS SQL-Datenbank-Server für Linux/Unix Version 4 ist ein relationales Datenbankmanagmentsystem. LNX wurde als Client/Server Datenbank entworfen (ODBC-Interface), um Ihnen einen sehr vielseitigen Zugriff auf Daten, kombiniert mit der bequemen Handhabung von MS-Windows, zu ermöglichen.

The SQLFlex database from InfoFlex. InfoFlex also markets an Informix-look-alike 4GL, a report writer, and a general ledger accounting system.

The Texis database from Thunderstone Specializes in support for natural language text, images, video and audio.

A very professional web site ... I really enjoyed the demo pages.

The Linter SQL Server from Relex-US Ltd. Demo versions can be downloaded from the News page. RelexUS provides commercial support in the US for this Russian product.

Documentation, Other Notes


Last Updated June 2003 by Linas Vepstas

Copyright (c) 1996-2003 Linas Vepstas.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included at the URL, the web page titled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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