|Microsoft's SQL server (which they call "SQL Server", as if theirs were the only one, or the original) is an example of Microsoft's efforts to take a standard (such as Structured Query Language) and add proprietary "extensions" that lock you into using their product. What's more, it's only available for Windows Server, so you can't run it on a less expensive, more stable platform like Linux or one of the BSD Unixes, or a the much more scalable commercial Unixes. Lately it's been an ongoing security problem, with a variety of known exploits active on the internet.|
|MySQL is an incredibly popular free, open-source database server, largely due to the fact that it can typically run circles around the others, and runs efficiently with fewer resources. It does this at the expense of certain features, such as transactions and foreign keys, which makes it less suitable for certain kinds of applications, but if you don't need those features (and for things like publishing data on the web, you generally don't), it's a solid choice.|
|PostgreSQL is a very popular and highly-acclaimed free, open-source database server, and is often selected over commercial products... for its performance and features, not for its price. It's been in development since 1985; the fully-SQL-compliant version came out in 1995. It runs primarily on Unix-like systems, but an NT version is also available.|
|Interbase is a popular product from Borland which gets excellent ratings in user surveys. Its main advantages are its modest hardware requirements (but with the ability to scale to very large systems), and its ability to install and run effectively without a lot of intervention by the database administrator. It's a cross-platform system for Windows, Linux, and Solaris. It integrates very well with Borland's excellent development tools, as well as third-party tools.|
|Firebird is a free open-source database tool based on the Interbase 6 source code Borland released to the public in 2000. Although the group of developers behind it initiated the "fork" from standard Interbase due to "irreconcilable differences" with Borland, the two systems are highly compatible with each other, which remains a high priority for the Firebird team. In addition to the platforms Interbase supports, Firebird is available for other Unix-like systems, including Mac OS X.|
|Oracle is one of the classic "name brand" database servers, making it one of the most widely used and widely supported... for a cost. It's not the easiest to install or maintain, but its feature set is the richest, and it has a reputation of scaling very well to handle "enterprise" databases without slowing down.|
|There's an old saying, "No one ever got fired for buying from IBM". While IBM are no longer the universally safe choice they once were (and neither will Microsoft be), they're still a serious contender, especially in the realm of "big iron" software, and DB2 is just such an animal. With the recent addition of Informix database technology, it's likely to get even better. It's available for Linux, NT, and the Unixes, and if you run any IBM systems such as AS/400, VM, or OS/2, it's almost certainly your best choice.|
|SAP MaxDB is an enterprise-class database released by business-software developer SAP as an open-source system. It's available for Windows and several Unix-like systems.|
|Adabas is known as one of the fastest databases, particularly when dealing with large sets of data. Its reliability make it a worthwhile candidate for mission-critical applications. Its accessible through either standard interfaces like SQL, ODBC, and JDBC, or through Software AG's proprietary development tools. It's available for Windows, Unix-like systems, OpenVMS, and IBM mainframes. Adabas D, a smaller version for small workgroup and personal projects, is available free.|
|Sybase is a cousin to Microsoft's SQL server, as they are both derived from the same earlier implementation of SQL. (That's right: Microsoft took advantage of someone else's work to get a head start on their SQL Server product.) It's a commercial product, but a (slightly out of date) version for Linux is available for free use.|
|Pervasive.SQL is from the folks who produced Btrieve, a groundbreaking database that most former and present Netware admins will recognise. Now an independent company, their flagship product offers both relational SQL access (for standards-compatibility and flexibility) and transactional Btrieve access (for speed). One of its key advantages is its ease of maintenance: it has a reputation for running itself. Versions are available for Netware, Unix-like systems, and Windows.|
|MiniSQL (also known as mSQL) is a very lightweight implementation of SQL (or at least the most essential elements of the spec), designed to consume the minimal possible system resources when it's running. It's intended for use with small datasets and simple indexing, but as its users have pushed it to do more, developer Hughes Technology has enhanced it to meet many of their needs. Runs natively on Unix-like systems, with ported versions for Windows and OS/2.|
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