Get to know Firebird in 2 minutes

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Get to know Firebird in 2 minutes

by Carlos H. Cantu - document revision 1.3 - February/2010
Translated versions: Czech, PortuguÍs Brasil, Polish, German, Turkish, PortuguÍs Portugal, Spanish,
Swedish, French, Italian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Russian, Japanese.


If you are reading this paper, this is probably your first encounter with the Firebird RDBMS. This paper will present to you the main features of the Firebird database. At the end, I am sure you will be anxious to download its lightweight installer and try it out yourself.


Firebird is derived from Borland InterBase 6.0 source code. It is open source and has no dual license. Whether you need it for commercial or open source applications, it is totally FREE!

Firebird technology has been in use for 20 years, which makes it a very mature and stable product.

Major Features

Donít be fooled by the installer size! Firebird is a fully featured and powerful RDBMS. It can handle databases from just a few KB to many Gigabytes with good performance and almost free of maintenance!

Below is a list of some of the Firebirdís major features:

  • Full support of Stored procedures and triggers
  • Full ACID compliant transactions
  • Referential integrity
  • Multi-generational architecture
  • 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, MacOS, FreeBSD and HP-UX.
  • Incremental backups
  • 64bits builds available
  • Full cursor implementation in PSQL
  • Monitoring tables
  • Transaction and connection triggers
  • Temporary tables
  • TraceAPI - know what happens in your server

Try it now!

Trying Firebird is a very simple task. The installer size usually is less than 7MB (depending on the operating system of your choice) and fully automated. You can download it from the Firebird main site. The latest stable release is version 2.1.

You will notice that Firebird server comes in four flavors: SuperServer, Classic, Superclassic and Embedded. You can start with SuperServer. Right now, Classic is recommended for use with SMP machines and some other specific situations. SuperServer shares its cache among the database connections and uses threads to handle each connection. Classic starts one independent server process for each connection made. Superclassic offers multithreaded single process server with independent cache for each connection.

The embedded version is an amazing variation of the server. It is a fully featured Firebird server packed in just a few files. It is very easy to deploy, since there is no need to install the server. It is ideal for CDROM catalogs, demos or standalone desktop applications.

Firebird comes with a full set of command line utilities that allow you to create databases, retrieve database statistics, run SQL commands and scripts, perform backups and restores, etc. If you prefer to use a GUI (Graphical User Interface) tool, there are lots of options to choose from, including free ones. Check the list at the end of this paper for a good start.

On Windows, you can run Firebird as a service or in application mode. The installer can create an icon in the Control Panel that you can use to manage the server (start, stop, etc).


There are a lot of papers, FAQs and articles that you may want to check in the Firebird main site. Also, you can check if your country has a localized community site or discussion list, so you can get support in your native language.

All this information can be found digging around in the Firebird main site. Also, check to get up to date with the most recent news related to Firebird.

For all sized databases

Some people thinks that Firebird is a RDBMS to be used with just small databases and a few connections. They are wrong! Firebird is being used with many big databases and lots of connections. You can read the full article about a real 1 Terabyte database.

Tools & Components

Here you can find a list with some interesting resources including tools, drivers, etc. Please check the official Firebird site for a more complete and up to date list.

GUI Administration tools

Drivers and access components

Delphi components




.Net Provider


Other languages

Replication tools

Support and resource links


Papers and documentation

Would you like to help?

Due to the nature of an Open Source project, anyone can contribute by developing new features or fixing bugs. If you want to become a member of the Firebird Development Team, download the Firebird source code from sourceforge and study it. Also, you may join the fbdevel discussion list to get in touch with other developers (note: fbdevel is not a general support list, so donít ask support questions there, instead use firebird-support for free community support).

You donít need to be a coder to help the project. Become a member of the Firebird Foundation or make a donation and you will be helping to fund core developers so they can invest more time working in the project.

Thanks for these two minutes...

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