Oracle 10g Express

I mentioned a few days ago that Oracle have released a free, moderately hobbled version of 10g. Their free version (currently in beta) is dubbed Oracle 10g Express. (Not at all an answer to SQL Server 2005 Express, then, no sir).

Oracle 10g Express

Considering that it’s free, Oracle have been remarkably generous with what they’re actually giving away. With the free version, your database is limited to 4GB HD, 1GB RAM, and a single CPU. But for the kinds of projects that this version is aimed at, those are ample resources. 4GB in particular is a lot of database for most purposes.

The download is a mere 150MB, which for many people will even make it more desirable than the bloatworthy paid version.

This is beta software, so I won’t comment on its stability (except to say that, in the limited set of tests I performed, it actually was very stable!). Installation was interesting, but after hitting it with a hammer several times it then installed.

The express version has a nice web interface (see screenshot) plus lots of groovy Oracle 10g stuff.

One of Oracle’s strengths (at least for Java users) is its support for Java-based stored procedures. However, this feature is disabled in the express version. For those brave enough to give it a try though, Oracle’s well-established stored procedure language, PL/SQL, is mature and super-powerful.

With the number of free databases available now, many projects will be able to get off the ground that otherwise just wouldn’t have been able to just a few years ago. Back then, even small database servers used to cost shedloads of cash; and if you needed a server per installation, the cost of your application would have been forced through the roof.

This might seem like a generous and altruistic move by Oracle, but as you might expect there’s more to it than that. It’s actually a very savvy move. As well as fighting the equally free and attractive SQL Server 2005 Express, Oracle are seeding loads of developers with Oracle knowledge, which pays back in so many ways.

Small shops get Oracle lock-in (especially if they use PL/SQL!), and it’ll generally become easier to find Oracle administrators and developers.

Of course, if Oracle didn’t do this, they would get steamrollered in so many sectors by SQL Server, and even by the open-source MySQL now that it’s gone all enterprise on us.

About the Author

Matt Stephens is a senior architect, programmer and project leader based in Central London. He co-wrote Agile Development with ICONIX Process, Extreme Programming Refactored, and Use Case Driven Object Modeling with UML - Theory and Practice.