Investigating Firebird

By Blane Warrene

Perhaps it is time for a second look at Firebird, an open source relational database based on the Interbase source code.

Firebird was born when the Interbase source code was released in July 2000 by then Inprise Corp. (Borland Software). There is a whole second story on Inprise/Borland and what transpired during those years – too much to be told here. However, some interesting history can be found on the Firebird site.

Many who have had past experience with Interbase may have had some sour grapes over the db platform (myself included with a past client and a Cobalt RAQ server – ugh). However, the latest build from Firebird, version 1.5, is a culmination of a port from the original C to C++. The system includes solid support for stored procedures and triggers, which is forthcoming soon in other open source databases. Firebird’s advantage is support for these key features dates back many years under the Inprise name (Interbase).

Their latest fact sheet is what caught my eye as well as the ability to load it on OS X as well as Windows, Linux and numerous Unix flavors. You can review the fact sheet at the Firebird SQL site.

  • Just a quick comment, isn’t it “Firefox” now?

  • Jared

    FireFox is a Mozilla product. He’s talking about Firebird SQL which happens to be the reason Mozilla had to change the name

  • That’s the browser ( The reason for the change from Firebird -> Firefox was because of this software’s name.

  • Tim

    Firefox is a web browser that was formerly Firebird. One reason the name was changed is because of the naming conflict with the Firebird database (which is what this blog is referring to). The Firebird database is the open source version of Interbase (Borland).

    Confused yet? :D

  • Interesting. Never touched Firebird before by seems PHP-wise the Interbase functions can be used: (see the top most comment for example)

  • John

    Firebird is an amazing product – robust, stable and powerful. And with it’s multi-versioning design, offers superb transaction isolation. Used it with Delphi for years, I’m now working with C# and the open source .net provider. kicks SQL Server’s backside! And even if MySQL offered comparable features (which it doesn’t), Firebird is free to deploy under all circumstances.

  • Tim

    Harry, that’s because they both originated from the same source, hence the API’s are pretty much the same.

  • zjcboy

    How does Firebird compared to PostGreSQL? I think both are rich-featured (better than MySQL). But what’s the main pros and cons between them?

  • How does Firebird compared to PostGreSQL? I think both are rich-featured (better than MySQL). But what’s the main pros and cons between them?

    I have seen many informal discussions on the two via buuletin boards and forums but have yet to see a full review with comparison yet. Perhaps that goes on my to do list….?

  • Riste Pejov

    Firebird has “events” that can call your app when something happens in the DB. Firebird has multi generational architecture which offer fantastic concurrency. At the end, Firebird’s installation weights only 2 MB, with a running footprint of around 300 K, and it can handle terabytes of data.

  • Sadi Synn

    Firebird. A Gibson guitar played by Johnny Winter since the 1960s. A hotrod by Pontiac. WHO CAME FIRST?

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