Oracle Releases Beta of Free Database

The free open source database leader MySQL has some new competition from expensive enterprise database leader Oracle. The company on Monday unveiled a beta release of 10g Express Edition, otherwise known as Oracle Database XE, which is free to develop, deploy and distribute.

Oracle's new edition is aimed at students, small organizations and software developers looking to integrate a database into their applications. Although it offers the same core as Oracle's more pricey business offerings, XE is limited to systems with a single processor, 1GB of RAM and 4GB of database storage space.

The beta release comes just after the debut of MySQL 5.0, which adds a number of features previously confined to the likes of Oracle and IBM's DB2. Such additions include stored procedures, triggers and views, along with support for the ANSI SQL standard for compatibility.

MySQL has gained immense popularity among smaller companies and individuals without big pockets to cover the price of Oracle. The database is also used by a number of major Web companies including Yahoo and Google. Oracle is attempting to shore up a piece of that market by attracting PHP, Java and .NET developers with its "entry-level" XE.

"With Oracle Database XE, currently available as a Beta release, you can now develop and deploy applications with a powerful, proven, industry-leading infrastructure, and then upgrade when necessary without costly and complex migrations," the company says on its Web site.

Oracle Database XE is slated for a final release before the end of the year. Downloads are available for both Linux and Windows.

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