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Oracle To Offer A Free Database 370

Posted by Zonk
from the nice-if-true dept.
An anonymous reader writes "ZDNet News reports that Oracle is likely to announce a free version of its Oracle 10g Database. Oracle Database 10g Express Edition will be free for development and production use, and could even be distributed with other products. What does this mean for the future of MySQL and PostgreSQL?" From the article: "By introducing a free entry-level product, Oracle intends to get more developers and students familiar with its namesake database, Mendelsohn said. Those customers, Oracle hopes, will eventually upgrade to a higher-end version."
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Oracle To Offer A Free Database

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  • It Could Backfire (Score:5, Insightful)

    by obender (546976) on Monday October 31, 2005 @08:33AM (#13914062)
    Unless Oracle puts together a better administration interface than the current bunch of tools people might actually learn to stay away from it.
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday October 31, 2005 @08:37AM (#13914081) Homepage Journal
    ... this is crippleware. It's no threat to MySQL, PostgreSQL, or any other open source DBMS, because the developers of those databases are working to put as many features as possible into their free products, while Oracle is deliberately taking features out. This will probably be a good resource for people who want to learn Oracle on their own time, or organizations already using Oracle that want to test a new rollout without having to pay additional fees via Oracle's baroque pricing scheme, but that's about it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2005 @08:37AM (#13914082)
    Clearly, Oracle has bought a major disk drive company. Have you ever downloaded or tried to install Oracle? It's easily 10 Gigs of useless crud, wrapped around a few CD's of material actually relevant to your particular setup. For Linux, they publish it as a set of binary bundles that have to be strung together so that you can *then* take apart the tarball. What a waste of disk space!

    The approach shows up in everything they do. Build a huge, conglomerated edifice of software to provide the one brick you actually need, rather than keeping components modular and portable. It's like making people install a whole radio station just to get a pair of headphones.
  • by samuel4242 (630369) on Monday October 31, 2005 @08:44AM (#13914115)
    The main reason I like MySQL is it works five minutes after I finish downloading it. And it's much smaller than Oracle so I can download it quickly. I spent two days trying to make Oracle work on an Linux box and it never did. The price ain't the only reason I like open source. :-)
  • by flipper65 (794710) on Monday October 31, 2005 @08:45AM (#13914123) Homepage
    By all means, dive into Oracle, it will be a pleasure to see the Ellison flames replace the Gates flames.
  • by Dekortage (697532) on Monday October 31, 2005 @08:46AM (#13914127) Homepage

    So MySQL and PostgreSQL have been free... then IBM announces a free version of DB2... then Microsoft says it's going to release SQL Server Express for free. So Oracle is playing catch-up. I wouldn't expect a major migration from MySQL to anything else; the conversion costs would be too high. But in the future, choice is a good thing.

  • by m4dm4n (888871) <madman@nofrance.info> on Monday October 31, 2005 @08:49AM (#13914142) Homepage
    While the summary asks the question how this will effect MySQL and PostgrSQL, surely the limitations on processors, memory, and instances will make this unusable for shared hosting. While I may be wrong, I bet a lot of people get to know MySQL and PostgreSQL when they get it as part of a package for cheap (and thus almost certainly shared) hosting.
  • by OpenSourced (323149) on Monday October 31, 2005 @08:55AM (#13914170) Journal
    I think that's a smart move by Oracle. From a long time ago they have allowed full download of their databases for testing purposes. I have a copy of Oracle 9 running in my machine to make tests of software I develop. So my customers with Oracle have better service. Probably some copies of the database will end up as production units, but few companies will trust its bussiness data to an illegal piece of software.

    So Oracle has realized that the free availability hasn't cut into their sales. The next step is logical. You give away an entry-level database (entry-level users would probably use an illegal copy, or worse, an open source db), and then wait till the needs grow and they need the real thing. If the needs don't grow, well, who need those little-bussiness-that-don't-grow as customers, anyway ?

    I see the thing as mainly good for the users and developers. Of course it'll cut into Open Source databases, but they'll still have their niche. After all, you should be careful with what you do with this free Oracle. Oracle can change its mind in two year's time and leave you with all your data and processes in a database that won't be supported or upgraded anymore. You'd have fallen into Oracle's trap. That's much more difficult to happen with an Open Source database.

  • by reallocate (142797) on Monday October 31, 2005 @08:59AM (#13914192)
    Offering gratis but capable versions of closed proprietary software may or may not turn out to be a good marketing move, but it would certainly separate those who like FOSS from those who like freebies. Given the fact that the vast majority of FOSS users have no interest in modifiying source code, or the capability, I suspect most of us fall into the freebie camp.
  • Re:First Post (Score:5, Insightful)

    by badfish99 (826052) on Monday October 31, 2005 @09:00AM (#13914200)
    If MySQL will do what you want, then you don't need Oracle.

    But if your database is really big enough to need Oracle, then MySQL certainly won't be in the running as an alternative.

  • Switch? Hell No! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by brennz (715237) on Monday October 31, 2005 @09:03AM (#13914208)
    I don't like the idea of switching to Oracle because it is not open source.

    I can't sweet talk Oracle devs into including some new feature I want, not without going through loads of bureacracy. I can't submit patches to the Oracle code base. I have to worry about rampant security flaws. I have to pay way too much if my DB gets bigger. I have to put up with mediocre performance.

    No thanks.

    I am sticking with PostgreSQL. I can hop into #postgresql on irc.freenode.net and talk to bruce momjian about features and coding for postgresql. I can submit patches. I can review the PG codebase, and I know how fast the PG devs fix flaws. I don't have to pay anything if my DB gets bigger. I have great performance. Shoot, I'll even have multi-master replication (slony II) for free in the future.
  • Super! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lao-Tzu (12740) on Monday October 31, 2005 @09:04AM (#13914210) Homepage
    As a software developer in the petroleum industry, I find that all of our clients use Oracle for their database needs. The release of this product will allow us to test and tweak applications to work against Oracle without purchasing the database. This works out great for us. I don't want to use Oracle in any way, but now I have the capability to use it in the most minimal way that will allow me to sell and support software.

    My prefered database system is PostgreSQL. It would seem that no level of marketing skill can convince anyone in this industry that Free Software has value. Funny...
  • by vhogemann (797994) <victor@NoSpAM.hogemann.com> on Monday October 31, 2005 @09:06AM (#13914222) Homepage
    I'll not touch it.

    Not trying to be a troll here, but why use Oracle when they won't support our Distro of choice (Debian)?

    At work we have good experiences with Firebird, we have several databases, some over 1.6GB size, with more than 50 concurrent connections. And there was no downtime or corruption problems since the thing went to production, almost 3 years now.

    Ok, Oracle has big advantages over Firebird. But they're worth moving away from Debian, a distro we trust and are confortable with? Are these advantages worth the extra money spent on licences for Oracle and it's supported Linux distros?

    I work at a public institution, the healthcare department of Rio de Janeiro City, and there's barely enought money to run the hospitals, to buy medicine and such. Sure we could use this free Oracle, but we made such a long way until now using only OpenSource solutions. Why would we change now?

    Just my 2c.
  • by ShootThemLater (5074) on Monday October 31, 2005 @09:08AM (#13914234)
    I think that for embedded database storage, this would be overkill
    Not necessarily. Some vendors offer products that use a database to (say) store metadata. It's not unusual for such vendors to only offer support for databases where there is sufficient proven commercial demand - and (right or wrong) in many fields, that means Oracle, DB2, MSSQL. Sure, something like MySQL would be far better suited for embedded use, but that would be a whole other platform to do QC on etc. and it might not make commercial sense.

    So, if you had a free version of a database that you already support, you could easily use that as an embedded version - for a mobile version of your product, for example.

  • by YoungHack (36385) on Monday October 31, 2005 @09:10AM (#13914241)
    > Unless Oracle puts together a better administration interface than the current bunch of tools people might actually learn to stay away from it.

    Boy that's no kidding. I've used their real database, and there's no way I would voluntarily choose it for any project of my own. Free wouldn't make a bit of difference to me.
  • by ahodgkinson (662233) on Monday October 31, 2005 @09:10AM (#13914245) Homepage Journal
    Given the perceived popularity of MySQL, Oracle obviously feels it needs to react in order to prevent a slide in its market share. This is interesting, given that Oracle is one of the world's largest software companies and makes most of its money selling top-end systems to large enterprises, which isn't (yet) MySQL's playing field.

    MySQL is good enough for many smaller software projects and is therefore capturing mind share in the developer world. Oracle obviously realizes this leads to a trickle up effect as software developers with MySQL experience will probably start to recommend it for other, larger, projects.

    Oracle is trying counteract this by attempting to capture developer's mind share, rather than battling directly for market share. This is a long-term strategy and its success will depend on how well Oracle interacts and reacts with the Open Source developer community.

    From the few comments posted here, mainly those stating how big and complex the Oracle system is, I wonder if Oracle actually gets it. If the learning (and administering) curve is really that steep, Oracle may be better off if it releases a light (in size and complexity) version that is easy to get up and running on small projects. A second recommendation would be to make sure Oracle 10 is included by default on most popular Linux distributions (which will be difficult, given it's size and complexity).

    While I am impressed by Oracle's move, I'll be surprised if it gets them the gains they are hoping for. I don't think they realize the commitment this move will require in the Open Source world in order to be successful. Open Source is one of the few playing fields where actions still count more than PR.

    This makes me wonder if another major software company will follow with a drastic reaction when the Linux desktop and the Open Office suite are truly ready for prime time.

    We live in interesting times!

  • C'mon, people... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2005 @09:18AM (#13914301)
    If you want to catalog your CD collection, or serving a few thousand pages on your website a day, MySQL is a great choice. If you're running a .NET-driven website, use your SQL Server. These are all fine tools. Go in peace.

    But don't complain about Oracle's reliability, features, scalability, or flexibility. When you need ass-kicking database performance and you really know what you're doing, those other tools are still in the stone age.

    Though it's heresy in a world of open-source advocates (of which I am one, btw), the truth is the unpleasant fact that MySQL and Postgres are still relatively crude tools compared to Oracle. Compare Oracle's superior MVCC, hierarchical/analytic queries, flashback query, fine-tuned storage/space management, support for sophisticated indexes (reverse-key being one), "tune-ability," and on and on. There may be a learning curve, but seriously, the interface in 10g is pretty nonthreatening, so even the novice has a good shot of being able to do a lot of very cool things.

    If you don't need the power, that's fine, don't use it, but don't bash something you dont' understand. Can I get a witnes?

  • Tester's heaven (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Craig Ringer (302899) on Monday October 31, 2005 @09:35AM (#13914410) Homepage Journal
    Whether or not you'd like to use Oracle yourself, this is good news for software developers. It means they can deploy and test against a running version of Oracle with no need to worry about "developer program" memberships, trials that expire, and similar crud.

    This'll be very helpful for me in ensuring that my code is portable across databases (at least PostgreSQL and Oracle).
  • by EraserMouseMan (847479) on Monday October 31, 2005 @10:05AM (#13914590)
    You should RTFA. The strategy is directly aimed at gaining more usage from the people who typically would choose MySQL or PostressSql.

    Microsoft's SqlServer 2005 express has the same strategy. But Oracle is doing this for the same reason Microsoft is --> they are getting jealous of the Open Source database market share.

    My personal prediction is that Oracle's lite version won't catch on because Oracle's db is so dang complicated to set up correctly and the tools stink in comparison.

  • by cnelzie (451984) on Monday October 31, 2005 @10:12AM (#13914625) Homepage
    That would definately be thinking of the DBAs.

        Have you ever seen a Database "constructed" by someone who knows nothing about Database design?

        Easier to use tools will make it all the much easier for Oracle DBAs to quickly repair and rebuild or begin anew a DB created from a person with a Microsoft Access 101 class under his/her belt.
  • by quantum bit (225091) on Monday October 31, 2005 @10:19AM (#13914662) Journal
    Uhm, no. It isn't that big at all. About 2 gig for the db server.

    2 gig?!?!?! For a DB server?! Not big at all?!!!!!

    $ ls -l /usr/ports/distfiles/postgresql/

    -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 7825300 Oct 3 20:25 postgresql-base-8.0.4.tar.bz2
    -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 2227623 Oct 3 20:26 postgresql-docs-8.0.4.tar.bz2
    -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 389944 Apr 10 2005 postgresql-jdbc-8.0-311.src.tar.gz
    -rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 133881 Oct 3 20:26 postgresql-opt-8.0.4.tar.bz2
  • by Jeppe Salvesen (101622) on Monday October 31, 2005 @10:36AM (#13914793)
    So what? If it comes with the required features, I'll still be able to make sure my product works with Oracle - without paying Oracle a dime. In my view, that's perfectly reasonable - since my customers will buy the expensive Oracle versions..
  • by mnemotronic (586021) <mnemotronic.netscape@net> on Monday October 31, 2005 @10:40AM (#13914811) Homepage Journal
    Many companies have dedicated I.T. departments with at least a few people who are Oracle admins. Once a company has faith in a product (or has built s significant infrastructure upon a product), it becomes very difficult to switch the foundation. Giving away a small edition that would, from the sales pitch, appear to compete head-on with MySql and PostGRE, is a smart move. Take the case of a company where there are developers considering or starting their own "stealth" db apps - I don't mean the Oracle db admins, I mean the engineer who read about PHP and MySql and wants to try a small task-tracking system for his group. She or he knows that the company uses, and has blessed Oracle, so that might lend some weight to using the XE package rather than the "unproven" (from the IT department's point of view) FOSS database. In addition, Oracle has an enormous amount of administrative tools and documentation. MySQL and PostGRE really can't compare in that arena (IMHO). The downside, in my experience, is that Oracle administration really does require someone who has take a heap of Oracle admin classes.
  • by oni (41625) on Monday October 31, 2005 @10:43AM (#13914834) Homepage
    Have you ever seen a Database "constructed" by someone who knows nothing about Database design?

    That would describe 90% of the databases I've ever seen. Then people are amazed when they realize that there are questions that their data CANNOT answer, not because the information isn't there, but because of they way they've organized it.

    I'll give examples if anyone is interested.
  • Re:First Post (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zathrus (232140) on Monday October 31, 2005 @10:44AM (#13914845) Homepage
    Oracle is a rubbish dinosaur that hasnt aged all that well

    And this is insightful?

    It's a baseless accusation. The poster doesn't even attempt to provide any proof for it. Oracle is continuously leads the pack in benchmarks, it has more features than you can shake a stick at, is incredibly stable, and has features that MySQL is just starting to catch up with (wow, MySQL finally got views! How wonderfully 1980s.)

    coz IBM said if it dont do what you want, work round to it. Oracle said, ok we'll patch it.

    So suddenly not adding features and refusing to respond to your userbase is a good thing? No wonder IBM's lost most of the market outside of mainframes and minis.

    MySQL is excellent for what it is, a website database server

    Well this much is true at least. But I still wouldn't use it much beyond a toy website. PostgreSQL or Firebird are better for the same price -- both in features and in stability/reliability.

    cant see many php developers going to the trouble of using oracle

    The trouble? You clearly don't know what you're talking about now. Oracle is far easier/better to write SQL for since it's both more flexible and closer to the SQL "standard" (and that's a pretty sad statement). There's also far more information out there for help with Oracle than there is with MySQL, not to mention that Oracle is something very useful to put on your resume/CV -- MySQL isn't totally unknown anymore, but Oracle is still better as far as that goes.

    Now if you want to rightfully bash Oracle then talk about their miserable installer and bundled administration tools. They suck. They've always sucked. And they're not getting better IMO. Oracle's on a buying spree right now, and I so wish that they'd buy out Quest Software and bundle TOAD (Windows) or tORA (*nix) with their servers. The Java crap they use now blows. The other (and related) issue is that administering an Oracle server can be a daunting task, and there's not a great deal of (free) literature available for it. Oragle 10g has made strides here with the database doing a lot of self-fixing and tuning, but it could be better (or at least better documented). Of course, one reason that MySQL doesn't need as much here is because there simply as much that can be done to it. Flexibility has a price.
  • by kpharmer (452893) on Monday October 31, 2005 @10:51AM (#13914899)
    While it's true that keeping a tiny oracle vanilla database running can be very simple - especially if you don't care much about the data, and aren't developing on it (canned app).

    It is not simple to admin if:
        - you've got development trying a lot of different ideas - and you're spending all your time researching issues
        - you've got a ton of data
        - you've got business critical data and need to configure for maximum reliability
        - you get into a slightly off-the-path data restoration scenario

    And the work of a dba isn't trivial if you are trying to do more than just keep the server running. In that case you should be:
        - handling data quality issues
        - handling data concurrency issues
        - handling multiple apps using the same data elements
        - handling replication issues
        - designing reporting models
        - often implementing the ETL process between operational and reporting models
        - performance-tuning databases that are constantly changing over time, often selecting the new hardware, then migrating them to new hardware.
            Figuring out where to spend your money to get performance you need: more memory? more cpus? more/faster disk?
        - writing queries for developers that don't know how to write simple sql
        - writing queries for advanced developers that aren't sure how to get the best performance out of complex queries
        - creating automatically-maintained summary tables
        - researching fixpacks and upgrades to figure out which you need, and what they'll break; then doing
            emergency un-installs or work-arounds when you're wrong.

    If your dba job is simple you're probably doing about 1% of what dbas do at our location
  • Re:First Post (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kpharmer (452893) on Monday October 31, 2005 @11:34AM (#13915224)
    > If MySQL will do what you want, then you don't need Oracle.

    Not necessarily true, the idea of 'just use the best tool for the job' is very myopic. For exammple, in a 500-person organization with say, twenty database servers, has a need for consistency. Why? Because otherwise they waste a lot of time:
        - training dbas and developers on sql extentions and limitations
        - training dbas on multiple database backup and restore methods, issues, and management
        - managing multiple license types
        - training dbas on performance tuning on multiple databases
        - etc, etc

    In fact, you can often save money this way while paying surprisingly high database licensing costs - through reduced administrative and development labor costs. Don't get me wrong, I still like site-licensed or free databases since it makes architecting solutions so much simpler: you can create a new database without waiting months for funding & procurement. And I'm not really a fan of Oracle.
  • Sad Statement (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stone316 (629009) on Monday October 31, 2005 @03:00PM (#13917009) Journal
    I don't know where to start with a statement like this.. If I had mod points I definately knock it down.

    The problem with developers like this guy is that they don't like to think that the DBA has an important role. IT is getting too large these days for people to be able to be good at everything. Its simply impossible. There isn't enough time in a day for one person to architect, design and support most software applications end to end.

    Administering an Oracle DB isn't that difficult but its a full time job. Just like development. At first I was a developer but moved to a DBA role... It would be very difficult for me to go back because so much has changed.

    This guy either doesn't have the time or smarts to adminster any database environment. Just because Mysql or PostgreSQL are easier to install (not really) and you can 'forget' about them doesn't mean thats a good thing. I'm sure if we heard some of his reasons why he'd never use Oracle it would probably speak mountains.

    (For the record I use mysql, postgresql at home and Oracle, SQLServer at work. While I favor Oracle, i'm interested in database technology in general.)

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