Tech Industry

Sybase releases free database for Linux

Company goes head-to-head with MySQL and PostgreSQL with a free version of its ASE database for Linux.

Sybase has released a free production database for Linux.

The database maker announced on Wednesday the availability of a version of its Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) database for Linux.

David Jacobson, a marketing director at Sybase, said the database was produced for customers who want to run a test pilot of a commercial database on a Linux box.

"Many of our customers use Unix machines and want to move to Linux," Jacobson said. "As they are constrained by budget, they are using free open-source databases to try Linux out. But we want to give them the opportunity to try ASE."

The free version, called ASE Express Edition for Linux, offers core ASE 12.5.2 functionality but will work only on a single-processor machine, storing a maximum of 5GB of data and using a maximum of 2GB of RAM.

Sybase is providing a free license for ASE Express Edition for Linux but is not releasing the source code of the database. Jacobson asserts that releasing the source code is not as important as reducing costs.

"Customers are looking for a way of getting a free database. They are not that interested in being able to view source code," he said.

Jacobson said there are issues surrounding open-source databases that will draw customers toward Sybase's free database.

"ASE offers various enterprise features, such as high availability, security and replication. There are also licensing issues--if businesses want to resell open-source software with a GPL license, then they have to pay fees. With ASE, the license is free."

Open-source database MySQL is available under the GPL, or General Public License. But another open-source database, PostgreSQL, is released under the BSD license, meaning that companies do not need to pay a fee as long as they insert a copyright notice.

Jacobson asserts that open-source databases have not been proven commercially, compared with Sybase's database. "The ASE database is our flagship database. It has been around for 20 years, with 40,000 production customers," he said.

Simon Riggs, a PostgreSQL developer, said Thursday that he is not worried about ASE's potential effect. Instead, he sees it as another sign that companies are acknowledging the competition from open-source databases.

"It is not a threat at all," Riggs said. "In fact, it is a good sign. Companies obviously see free, open-source databases such as PostgreSQL as such a serious threat that they are going out of their way to produce a free database."

Sybase is not the first database company that has tried to compete against open-source databases. Microsoft released a free Express Edition of SQL Server in late June, and Computer Associates International released the source code for its Ingres r3 database in August.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.