Personal Empress Database

by David Weis
  • Manufacturer: Empress Software, Inc.

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  • Price: $149 US

  • Reviewer: David Weis

Personal Empress for Linux is a smaller version of Empress RDBMS (reviewed September 1997). It includes a subset of the features found in the full version, including the database kernel, the Empress HLI Dynamic SQL C Extension, the Empress 4GL, the Empress GUI Builder and a beta version of the Empress Hypermedia WWW toolkit. Only two user processes are allowed, and no networking capabilities are present. ODBC and other advanced features are not included.


Installation of the package is very easy. It comes on a single CD with a 12-page booklet of instructions. You mount the CD and run the install script—that's all there is to it. The script determines whether to install the ELF or the a.out version. You are also prompted to install the Empress Hypermedia toolkit.


Since this is the “Personal” version, it doesn't come with any printed documentation. The full set of documentation does come in compressed PostScript format on the CD. I wish Empress had left the files uncompressed or in PDF format for easier viewing. On the plus side, the documentation is very complete. The command empdocs presents a table of contents for the documentation set, from which you chose the section to print or display using Ghostview.


My testing Platform is an IBM PS/2 Model 90 XP 486-DX2/50 with 16MB RAM, 1.5GB DEC DSP3160S on an IBM SCSI Adapter with 512KB cache and Red Hat Linux 4.0 2.0.29 kernel.

The performance of Empress was impressive, especially considering my hardware. When using a 30,000-record database the query seemed to finish before I could press return. The speed of the Hypermedia toolkit was similarly impressive.

I wasn't able to thoroughly test the X Window System interface on the tool due to an unsupported video card, but I did examine it briefly on another machine. The sample programs included in the package are sufficient to illustrate the power of the software.

Graphical administration tools similar to SQL Server are absent, but on the other hand, I didn't run into any situation that required them. Also, the system resource requirements are much slimmer for Personal Empress than for many other commercial RDBMS programs. The entire package takes only 45MB of disk space.


Empress positions Personal Empress as a solution for developers who are going to move completed applications to the full version of Empress. It is also a good performer for general database work. You get a lot of software for the money, including a report writer, a 4GL and an X interface designer. Overall, I would rate Personal Empress as an excellent RDBMS.

David Weis is a computer science student at the University of Northern Iowa. He enjoys spending time with his fiancée and can be reached at
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