Personal tools
You are here: Home Tools FOSS Database Roundup
Document Actions

FOSS Database Roundup

last modified 2006-02-22 03:52 PM

Basic Information about the leading FOSS database management systems.

The first meeting of the NYSIA Open Source SIG was about FOSS database systems.

Database system are of personal interest to me. My first hard-core tech job was in 1980 where I worked in programming in the R&D department of a small Philadelphia DBMS company, SEED software.

SEED was a CODASYL-compliant DBMS and was "cross-platform," running on all the popular mini-computer systems of the time (it was actually written in Fortran). The biggest seller for the company was DEC's VAX platform )on which we developed). DEC was a great partner, or so we thought.

In those days, on competitive bids we would run into two upstarts - Ingres and Oracle. It wasn't the Relational databases that did SEED in. A year after I started working there, DEC came out with a CODASYL-compliant DBMS of their own, which was a near clone of our own product. Revenues fell through the fall and Seed Software eventually died.

But that isn't the end of the story. A years later, DEC came out with a relational DBMS called Rdb. Some of the brains behind a rival internally developed DEC RDBMS project, left Digital, and joined my former boss at Seed (who was then at Apollo), a man by the name of Dave Root (no joke). The company they founded, Interbase, was later bought by Ashton-Tate and eventually by Borland. More on Interbase below.

There are four major FOSS database players.

  1. MySQL calls itself "most popular open source database server in the world." If popularity means number of installations, than MySQL certainly wins. Starting out as a relatively simple data manager, MySQL has added full RDMS capability over the past few years, and now even has replication features.
  2. PostgreSQL has always been viewed as MySQL's big brother. It is the oldest FOSS databases around, having been first conceived and developed at UC Berkely in 1986. It has been a full-blown RDBMS from the beginning, unlike MySQL. A short history of PosgreSQL is here, which is part of a short tutorial about the system. Commercial support is provided by PostgreSQL Inc.
  3. Firebird is a FOSS spin-off from a commercial RDBMS, my good friend Interbase. Though it's roots go bnack farther than PostgreSQL, it only became FOSS recently. In 1999, Borland felt making Interbase open source would help it compete against Oracle, whose R&D budget could not be matched. Borland also was hoping to cash in at the stock market on the then current hype around FOSS. Borland later back-tracked, but once the code was out there, the project could continue to thrive without Borland's support. Some of the original brains behind Interbase are still involved in Firebird. I chose Interbase as our RDBMS of choice when working on STATEMATE. It was a great product. I imagine it still is given the brain power behind it. Commercial support is provided by IBPhoenix
  4. SAP DB as the name implies, is a FOSSified version of SAP's commercial RDBMS. SAP recently announced a partnership with MySQL so it is unclear what it's future as a separate product will be.

Powered by Plone CMS, the Open Source Content Management System

This site conforms to the following standards: