Free Oracle Database Takes On MySQL, SQL Server Express

The company on Friday posted a "freebie" version of its 10g product to the Oracle Technical Network (OTN).

Oracle Database 10g Express Edition, or XE, targets hobbyists, new database developers and others who might want to try out the technology, said Andy Mendelsohn, senior vice president of database server technologies for the Redwood Shores, Calif., company.

The slimmed-down version of 10g is a 150-megabyte download. It is compact but compatible with its bigger brothers, with all the relevant APIs.

"Developers can build against it and deploy their apps there or move them to Oracle Standard Edition One or beyond seamlessly," Mendelsohn said.

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This database is limited to use on one-processor machines and handles up to four gigabytes of user data and up to one gigabyte of memory. Microsoft's upcoming SQL Server 2005 Express is restricted for use on one processor, up to one gigabyte of addressable RAM and a maximum four-gigabyte database size.

Oracle XE is available for Linux or Windows.

Neither the timing nor the naming convention is likely coincidental. MySQL 5.0 was available earlier this week. Microsoft plans to role out SQL Server 2005, and its various SKUs, on Nov. 7.

The product is not under the General Public License (GPL) prevalent in open-source software but it touts "open-source like" characteristics. ISVs can embed it in their products and redistribute it freely, Mendelsohn said.

Oracle Standard Edition database lists for $15,000 per processor for up to four CPUs; the Enterprise Edition for $40,000 per CPU for up to eight CPUs. The newer Oracle Standard Edition One, targeting workgroups and departments, lists for $4,995 per processor and runs on machines with up to two CPUs.