Friday, July 21, 2006

Tassie newspaper tames open source Firebird

by Rodney Gedda on Computerworld Australia:

Weeks praised Firebird's "super server" architecture, which is a "drop-in replacement" for MySQL and can do whatever MySQL can do "with its eyes closed".

The Examiner now has six different Firebird-based applications that are available to the public to which are connected about 300 companies - like automotive dealers and real estate agents - connect each day.

The applications are developed with the popular PHP scripting language and delivered by the Apache Web server on Linux, exactly like the LAMP (Linux, Apache, and Perl/Python/PHP) stack, but without MySQL. Firebird is also used on FreeBSD Unix and Windows Server.

"Our transaction throughput is pretty light, we might do about 20,000 transactions a day," Weeks said, adding the biggest database is about 16GB. "But maintenance is non-existent - it's a DBA-less database. Backups can be done on the fly, so there's no need to take it offline, and it comes with a simple level of replication built in."

Weeks has also tried developing with PostgreSQL, but it "used all the memory and crashed the server".

He describes PostgreSQL as more of a research database with more features than Firebird, but lacking its level of enterprise robustness.

"News happens 24 hours a day so we need it to go all day, every day," he said. "All development is done on a 166MHz Pentium machine with 64MB of RAM to force you to write good code."

Support is reliable, Weeks said. Firebird's community support is good in that "if you don't get an answer back in 10 minutes, it's a bad day".

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