Product Reviews: Empress RDBMS and Just Logic/SQL RDBMS
The next candidate in this database duo is Just Logic/SQL. It is compact, easy to install and use and extremely cost-effective. Priced at $295 for an unlimited number of users, I found it to be in a value class of its own. Many of the utilities and niceties included in the Empress package are not found in the Just Logic/SQL product, but it features a simple and effective SQL interface and robust C, C++ and pre-compiler interfaces. The sqlweb interface for putting databases on the Net is an option value-priced at $175.
Installing Just Logic/SQL was as simple as can be. Perhaps the most complex component for newcomers would be creating a user account and group for the server/administrator, which is thankfully a point-and- click operation in the Red Hat Control Panel. Since I downloaded the trial version of Just Logic/SQL from their web site, the documentation was in Adobe PDF files, which require an appropriate reader before beginning installation. I liked the searchable PDF files.
JTL comes with a test database and a warning that it may take a few minutes to install depending on your hardware. The sample databases are included in three different formats, each serving as learning examples of how to use the C, C++ and pre-compiler interfaces. I chose the C version, which installed a small database in less than two minutes. I assume the warning must be a holdover for 386 Linux users. I tried the same file on a 486-66 with 32MB and a Seagate fast SCSI-2 hard drive on a 16-bit Future Domain controller, and it took approximately three minutes, certainly not as long or as involved as compiling a kernel. You can probably safely ignore the warning if you are currently driving any hardware combination built after the Reagan administration.
The documentation provides a simplistic schema for the “abc” sample database. Something everyone can appreciate is database guru Joe Celkos' naming conventions—table names are plural and in uppercase, attributes are singular and lowercase. The Just Logic/SQL sample mixes conventions just enough to be annoying, but this is rather common in an area where MS-Access-based converts excel (pun intended).
During testing this product performed very well. Using the same 810,000 record database and query, it brought back answers in just under 13 minutes. However, the slight difference in performance is less significant when compared with the time it took to get the data into the package. While Empress import utilities handled things in just a few minutes, I spent about 45 minutes writing a C program to import the data into Just Logic/SQL. Just Logic/SQL supports varchar data types.
Using Just Logic/SQL in a web environment was another exercise in simplicity. Installation and setup are a matter of copying the executable into your cgi-bin directory and editing a sample configuration file with your system details. The executable must set UID to the database owner, which is accomplished easily with the documented commands. The sqlweb documentation is clear and concise. Creating HTML pages for database access using sqlweb is well-defined with complete examples in the sqlweb.pdf. I was able to access data from the Linux/Just Logic/SQL/Apache combination from my Linux Netscape browser within minutes. It is quite exciting to see how fast it works. I spent several hours writing complex queries and HTML forms pages to see if I could break it.
Just Logic/SQL is perfect for low-budget shops who need a relational database solution. Students and professionals will appreciate it for its simplicity and robustness. The SQL, web, C, C++ and pre-compiler interfaces offer enough choices that anyone can immediately begin using the product to store and manage data resources. I heartily recommend it for anyone with some programming experience. The many examples of coding provided on the Just Logic/SQL web site is a fine starting point.
The bottom line in choosing between these two Linux database packages is one of cost versus time and user programming capability. Both packages offer programmers the flexibility to do just about anything they wish with their respective systems. Both provide data control, manipulation and administration. Both are performance-oriented and presented no problems as delivered. Both worked well in networked environments; however, I was unable to test either of them in a busy multiuser setting. The only thing I would want from either package is conformance to the SQL-92 standard, although both currently claim SQL-89 conformance. Both vendors have substantial quantities of information available on their web sites. I found both of these packages surprisingly supple and responsive, easy to install, configure and run on Linux with basic Unix skills. I think you will, too.
Rob is a systems engineer and longtime resident of Honolulu, Hawaii. He enjoys playing golf and chess. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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