Firebird (sometimes erroneously called FirebirdSQL) is a relational database management system offering many ANSI features. It runs on Linux, Windows, and a variety of Unix platforms. Started as a fork of Borland's open source release of InterBase, the Firebird codebase is maintained by the Firebird Project at SourceForge.
New code modules added to Firebird are licensed under the Initial Developer's Public License (IDPL). The original code released by Inprise (as Borland was then called) is licensed under the InterBase Public License 1.0 Both licenses are modified versions of the Mozilla Public License 1.1.
Firebird 1.0 was essentially a bug-fixed version of the InterBase 6.0 open source edition with some minor new features. Development on the Firebird 2 codebase
began with the porting of the Firebird 1.0 C code
to C++, together with a major code-cleaning undertaking. Firebird 1.5 was the first release of the Firebird 2 codebase and as such a significant milestone for the developers and the whole project.
- Firebird 2.0 was released in 2006. The latest stable version is 2.0.4 which was released in April 2008.
- Firebird 2.1 was released on 18 April 2008.
- Firebird 2.5 is currently in development; an alpha version is expected in the first quarter of 2008, the final by last Quarter of 2008.
- Firebird 3.0 will merge code from several codebases, including Firebird 2.1, Vulcan, and Fyracle; an alpha version is scheduled for release in Q4 2008.
Around the 20th birthday of the InterBase/Firebird product line, original creator Jim Starkey recollected:
- "September 4, 2004 is the 20th anniversary of what is now Firebird. I quit my job at DEC in August, took a three day end-of-summer holiday, and began work on September 4, 1984 in my new career as a software entrepreneur. As best as I can reconstruct, the first two files were cpre.c and cpre.h (C preprocessor), later changed to gpre.c and gpre.h The files were created on a loaner DEC Pro/350, a PDP-11 personal computer that went exactly nowhere, running XENIX. Gpre was my first C program, XENIX was my first experience with Unix, and the Pro/350 was my very last (but not lamented) experience with PDP-11s."
More information on Firebird's history can be found on the InterBase/Firebird History pages
The most recent stable version is Firebird 2.1 The Firebird 2.1 release contains a large number of new features, including the long-awaited global temporary tables, a catalogue of new run-time monitoring mechanisms, database triggers and the injection of dozens of internal functions into the SQL language set, as well as numerous other improvements and bug fixes.
The complete Release Notes are available in PDF format or HTML version
- Full support of Stored Procedures and Triggers
- Full ACID compliant transactions
- Referential Integrity
- Multi Generational Architecture (sometimes called MVCC)
- Very small footprint
- Fully featured internal language for Stored Procedures and Triggers (PSQL)
- Support for External Functions (UDFs)
- Little or no need for specialized DBAs
- Almost no configuration needed - just install and start using
- Big community and lots of places where you can get free and good support
- Optional single file embedded version - great to create CDROM catalogs, single user or evaluation versions of applications
- Dozens of third party tools, including GUI administrative tools, replication tools, etc.
- Careful writes - fast recovery, no need for transaction logs
- Many ways to access your database: native/API, dbExpress drivers, ODBC, OLEDB, .Net provider, JDBC native type 4 driver, Python module, PHP, Perl, etc.
- Native support for all major operating systems, including Windows, Linux, Solaris, Mac OS.
- Incremental Backups
- 64-bit builds available
- Full cursor implementation in PSQL
The Firebird 2.1 and 2.0.4 Quick Start Guide is available on-line as a multi-page HTML document as well as in PDF format A short introductory paper, Get to know Firebird in two minutes, has been translated into more than a dozen languages. The full Firebird Documentation Index is at http://www.firebirdsql.org/index.php?op=doc.
Mozilla Firefox name clash
In April 2003
, the Mozilla Foundation
decided to rename their web browser
after a trademark dispute with Phoenix Technologies
. This decision caused concern within the Firebird database project due to the assumption that users would be confused by a database and a web browser both using the name Firebird. The dispute continued until the Mozilla developers issued a statement making clear that their software package was called "Mozilla Firebird", not "Firebird". The statement also said that the Mozilla Firebird name was a project codename. On February 9
, Mozilla renamed its browser Mozilla Firefox
, thus ending the confusion