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FAQ on the license and the source code will be added as the community's knowledge accumulates.


How do the SQL dialects differ?
From Dave Schnepper:
SQL Item Dialect 3 Dialect 2 * Dialect 1 **
DATE Date only ERROR Message Date & Time (Timestamp)
TIMESTAMP Timestamp Timestamp Timestamp (v.6.x only)
TIME Time only Error message? Error message
"" Symbol only Error message String
Precision: 1/3 = 0 (exact) 0 (with warning?) 0.3333333... (double precision)
NUMERIC(11,*) 64 bit int 64 bit int (with warning?) double precision
(there are similar data type changes for other arithmetic operators, e.g.: + is an instead of a )

* Dialect 2 is designed for migration from V5 / V6 dialect 1 to V6 dialect 3.

** Dialect 1 in version 6.x is DIFFERS from Dialect 1 in version 5.x, by supporting the following new keywords:

SQL Dialect 0 is no longer supported in V6 (official statement). (SQL Dialect 0 was replaced by dialect 1 in v4.0)

A way to think about dialects:

  • Dialect 1 -- Behave as close as possible to v5.x

  • Dialect 2 -- Flag out any differences as errors, warnings, etc.

  • Dialect 3 -- Newly supported SQL syntax & semantics (closer to the spec)
In the future, I can see additional dialects being supported as IB migrates to be closer to the spec (or anytime a semantic difference is made in IB's SQL support). For instance, in Dialect 3
?????? - returns a double (representing # of days difference).

SQL specifies a new datatype INTERVAL as the result of this expression. When (or if) INTERVAL is supported, a new dialect (4) would be needed to flag the datatype difference in this type of expression and another one (5) to have the result be INTERVAL instead of .

Will there be an ODBC driver for IB 6.0?
Yes: an open source driver is being written by Jim Starkey. The Architect has put up his scheme for the release 6.x ODBC driver. He proposes a new API interface for IB that uses a Java-style object model. Jim is currently taking feedback from the IB-Architect list on his proposal.
  • Download the discussion document

What platforms are supported by available versions of InterBase?
? v.5.5 v.5.6 v.6.0 Beta

NT Certifications:

  • v5.5 = certified with SP3
  • v5.6 = certified with NT4 SP5, vector tested with Win2000
  • b6.0 = not yet certified

AIX :: InterBase V4.0 was the last release for AIX, in late 1995/early 1996. InterBase IA-V4.0D was certified on AIX 3.2.5 and 4.1.2 on POWER series CPUs. InterBase PA-V4.0G was certified on AIX 4.1.3 on PowerPC CPUs. InterBase V5.x has never been released on AIX.

What's the difference between "Classic" and "SuperServer" architectures in InterBase?

Read this White Paper on the whole subject.

What licensing scheme will the source code be released under?

InterBase has developed a custom version of the Mozilla Public License (MPL 1.1), known as "The InterBase Public License".

What assets will be handed over to the Open Source community?

Ann Harrison's first tentative list appeared on 17 Feb 2000. See the Community Notices page.

Will InterClient?/?InterServer be part of the open source InterBase?

Ann Harrison:?? Yes.

The driver currently works with JDK 1.2.??Will it support JDBC 2?
Ann H.:??Not immediately.

What costs will be involved for companies which use Interbase as an embedded server?

Licensing continues to apply to versions < 6.0. All releases from 6.0 on will be free of license fees. However, solutions software developed by third parties, such as VARs, that have InterBase embedded, will still be subject to any licensing that is applicable to that software.

ISC will charge for support services.

Will Version 5.6 licensees no longer need VAR agreements? Will the cost go down at least?
Ann Harrison: Version 5.6 continues as it has been - license fees, VAR agreement, etc.

Version 6.0. What costs will be involved in the open source version? License fee? Annual VAR agreements and fees?
Ann Harrison: Version 6.0 is free to download, source, binaries, and on-line docs. We will offer various packages that include the code and some documentation, not for free, but not very expensive. You may redistribute InterBase for free, regardless of how you acquire it. No license fee.

The VAR agreement is a bit complicated because it means different things in different parts of the world. The prepayment for reduced license fees is gone. The agreements that include support still have some value.

You'll get a choice of a number of packages, but on the whole, the cost of support will go up.

Please **do** provide replication and ODBC even if it is proprietary. It would be nice if tools made by other companies were open source.

This issue is under discussion - catch up here.

Is it true that Cognos is dropping InterBase support for PowerBuilder?

Ann Harrison: Ed Shepherdson and I met to discuss the relationship between Cognos and InterBase. We agreed to an orderly transition to direct support from InterBase for our products over the next 12 months or so. I agreed to provide Cognos, and Ed agreed to test, all our newest releases, with the expectation that if the releases are stable, perform well, and work with the existing interfaces, Powerhouse will support them.

Nothing is certain - anywhere in this industry - but I think the panic was premature in this case.

We are currently running IB4 on IRIX, unfortunately there seem to be no later releases for this platform.

This issue is under discussion - catch up here.

What will the mid-year release of InterBase 6 Open mean in terms of license fees?

Ann Harrison: Starting with V6.0, there will be no charge for InterBase licenses on any platform. As far as I know, Inprise will continue to charge for licenses on earlier versions. Versions prior to 6.0 are not included in the open source agreement.

Currently I pay maintenance fees for all my users and renewal for the next 12 months is almost due. Am I throwing my money away paying Inprise/Borland maintenance for IB when it is about to go open source?

Ann Harrison: The new company will provide several services:

  • support in a large number of packages, ranging from single incident e-mail to 24/7 guaranteed response.
  • certified kits. The "release cycle" of an open source product is quite different from the current InterBase model. While current binaries will always be available for free download, the new company will freeze some baselevels for exhaustive testing. Those "certified kits" will be available on-line and on CD and are likely to include some yet to be named additional software.
  • custom kits. The standard V6.0+ distributions will not include licensing. The licensing modules will be available in source. Some VARs use InterBase licensing to meter usage of their products. For a fee, the new company will offer certified binaries that include licensing.
  • hard copy documentation. Sorry guys, only the PDF format is free.
  • plus the normal mix of training and consulting.
Not everything will be available when the new company takes over - we've got some ramping up to do.

What Were the Alternative Licensing Options?

This summary of the three main contenders was written by Tim O'Reilly (O'Reilly Associates) as part of the November 1998 issue of the e-Zine ' Release 1.0', a special issue on Open Source which is a must for all to read.

A Brief Introduction to Open-Source Licensing

At its best, open-source licensing fosters cooperation, sharing and symbiosis between software creators and software consumers. There are many established and successful approaches to open-source licensing. Here are three important licenses, presented from oldest to newest.

BSD-style licenses
BSD-style licenses (so called because they were used for the Berkeley Standard Distribution of UNIX) are the oldest and least restrictive. They give licensees the option of creating private derived works (traditional commercial software with unpublished source code). Contribution of changes back to the public version is optional.

Some in the Open-Source community resent third parties taking from the public pool of software without contributing. (In economics, this is called the free-rider problem.) But despite the lack of a mandate, voluntary cooperation abounds. BSD-licensed software provides a great deal of the Internet's functionality through BIND, Apache and sendmail.

GNU general public license (GPL)
The GNU GPL, authored by Richard Stallman in 1983, is the GNU Project's implementation of the Copyleft concept. While copyright provides a monopoly on the right to create copies and derivative works, Copyleft grants unlimited permission to copy and modify. However, Copyleft obligates the user to distribute, without fee or additional license terms other than Copyleft, the source code to all derivative works.

The focus of the GNU Project is "free software, where free refers to freedom and not price." You can sell free software, but you must also give away the source code. The GPL is "viral" in that one cannot combine GPLed work with work governed by different licenses. If you enhance a GPLed work, your enhancements fall under the GPL terms. The GPL has a less-viral form, the LGPL, used for function libraries.

The GPL excels at preventing the proprietary fragmentation that has caused so much harm to the UNIX market. GPL success stories include the Linux kernel, the GNU C Compiler and the Samba file server.

Mozilla public license (MozPL or MPL)
The MPL, authored by Netscape Communications as part of its open-source release of Communicator 5, strikes a balance between the BSD license and the GPL. Private derivative works are permitted, while changes to MPL-covered source must be made freely available on the Internet. The MPL, however, is non-viral: additions to (as opposed to modifications of) the MPL-licensed source which form a "larger work" may be licensed differently and need not be published at all.

The economics of open source are still evolving, and so are the approaches to licensing.