By eWeek Editors  |  Posted 2002-07-08 Print this article Print


The two main open-source database choices, MySQL and PostgreSQL, have large user communities, rich online resources, commercial support options, proven track records and established development teams.

MySQL is the less sophisticated of the two, since it still lacks several important SQL features: subselects, views, referential integrity (foreign keys), stored procedures and triggers.

However, MySQL is very fast, as benchmark results published in eWeek Labs server database special report showed (see, and fully supports transactions and SQL isolation levels. Its speed means that it excels as a database cache or as a database for interactive jobs such as Web page generation. MySQL also runs well on Windows and Unix systems.

MySQL ABs upcoming MySQL Control Center administration tool (see screen) provides stronger database management features. PostgreSQL has nearly complete SQL-92 language support, including all the major SQL features MySQL lacks.

It also has stored procedure support (including triggers) in a number of languages, as well as advanced design features such as inheritance in database designs, indexes on function results, and geometric functions and indexes that are useful with geospatial data.

While PostgreSQL has Windows client software available, the server is difficult to set up on Windows because it requires Red Hat Inc.s Cygwin Unix emulation libraries for Windows. Therefore, most PostgreSQL installations run on Unix operating systems. Red Hats Red Hat Database is the main commercial version of PostgreSQL.

Firebird (based on Borlands InterBase 6.0) and SAP AGs SAP are both new entrants in the open-source world, although both have established commercial histories.

These are sophisticated products offering complete SQL support, transactions, stored procedures and triggers. However, they havent established open-source developer or user communities, and online support resources are limited.

After releasing InterBase 6.0 code, Borland backed away from its open-source plans. The current InterBase, Version 6.5, is not an open-source product, so Firebird and InterBase are now diverging products.

All these products are primarily focused on delivering core SQL database features and are not competitive with the big commercial players in several important areas: online analytical processing, data warehousing, data mining, clustering for performance, XML storage and query, Enterprise JavaBean support, plug-ins for a wide variety of specialty data types, distributed transactions, and external data gateways.

Graphical administration tools are available but simple in scope and not competitive with the comprehensive configuration, control, monitoring and tuning features found in the large commercial offerings. Management costs are higher among these database products as a result. —Timothy Dyck


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