Oracle unveils free database

Following up a story from late last week (and a smidgen late in my follow up), Oracle has indeed announced Oracle(r) Database 10g Express Edition (XE). Unfortunately, the details aren't exactly to my liking.

The biggest complaint that I see with the product in the initial release is that it is available under 32-bit Linux and Windows operating systems, leaving out OSX and any of the 64-bit systems. That's a bit of a surprise.

Now, for the limits that we all expected:

  • uses at most one CPU or "one dual core of processing capability" (I'm assuming they mean one core of a dual core)
  • memory usage is kept below one GB
  • is limited to a single instance per system
  • stores up to four GB of user data.

Now, many of you know that Oracle already provides free or nearly-free database for the use of developers and can be bought very cheaply for small organizations with a small number of users, but this is the first time that people who are putting data up on the web in a small way can have access to the Oracle database for free. Under normal Oracle licensing, you would need to have a processor-based license in order to serve the web to an open community, which could cost you (literally) hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Oracle's also decided to allow distribution and embedding of Oracle Database XE with their products (as long as they adhere to the licensing model), which is somewhat cool, although I'm not entirely certain what that means if you're running 2 programs on your computer, each of which embed an XE server... hopefully they'll coordinate and run in a single instance, or you're going to be finding another computer.

The download is available now. And, a full FAQ is also available.