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Free or open source databases with commercial-quality features

Microsoft, Oracle offer impressive free versions of their commercial offerings, but MariaDB wins our test

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We tested six popular free or open source relational database management systems (RDBMS): Microsoft SQL Server Express, PostgreSQL, Oracle’s MySQL, MariaDB, Apache Derby, and Firebird SQL. We tested each product on ease of installation, documentation, features, management tools and performance using a log file containing more than one million records. Here are the individual results.


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Firebird SQL

Firebird SQL comes with a cross-platform management tool called FlameRobin, which we found to be not as feature rich as others in this test. We also ran into minor problems with documentation and permission issues. Performance also degraded as we moved from smaller data sets to larger ones. Overall, we were impressed some of the new features that have been added to an already excellent database, Interbase, but our sense is that Firebird is best suited to smaller installations.


  • Microsoft SQL Server Express 2012
  • MySQL
  • MariaDB
  • PostgreSQL
  • Apache Derby
  • Firebird SQL


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