Oracle Database XE
Latest news from the Oracle world is that they have just released a new beta version of their database product, Oracle 10g Express Edition (Oracle Database XE). What's so special about this release? Well it's free, Oracle have offered their databases for download for free to developers for as long as I can remeber but the important difference with XE is that you can use it in production environments without any charge also. This seems in direct competition with the current "free" databases on the market such as MySQL.
The database is limited in that it can only be installed on single processor machines with 4Gb of disk memory and 1Gb of RAM. Andrew Mendelsohn, senior vice president of Oracle's server technologies division has said
"There is definitely a market there (for low-end databases) and a demand. And we want them to be using Oracle and not MySQL or SQL Server Express"
The theory is that students will be able use XE for free which will hopefully lead them on to the full Oracle database products. I suppose the question is, is it all a little too late, MySQL already has a great reputation in the area Oracle are targeting and IBM has, and Microsoft are, looking to release free lite versions of their database offerings, DB2 Express and SQL Server Express.
Versions for Windows and Linux are available for download from the Oracle website