Ask Your Question

Revision history [back]

click to hide/show revision 1
initial version

The short answer is: it is not necessary to buy server hardware to run a small-scale relational database.

The quintessential "flat" database is a spreadsheet.

A relational database is like two spreadsheets where one column of data in each of the spreadsheets links up. Like a row in spreadsheet a is "students" and a row in spreadsheet b is students enrolled in a particular course. Column 1 in a may be a student number; likewise a column in b may identify a particular student was enrolled in a class, each row in b representing a person enrolled in the class by the same student number. By linking on "student id", you speed up the processing and avoid repetition of name, address, etc., which is all confined to the first table. You can enforce those relationships with FOREIGN KEYS, meaning if a student ID is changed in spreadsheet a, you can automatically cascade the change to the list of enrollees in spreadsheet b (or prevent the original change). That is a relational database. Substitute table for spreadsheet in the terminology, and you have a working understanding of the mechanics of how relational databases are structured.

To get started, I would suggest Chapter 3 of the Base user handbook (p 34), which compares spreadsheets to tables and explains relationships and FOREIGN KEYS.

Any computer can run a database service, meaning offer connections to a database. In practice, a database service is just another program running in the background on a computer, which can be contacted by other programs, often via IP address and port, from the same computer or a different computer, and that will accept commands and report results. LibreOffice Base internally deals with all of that complexity, and no separate server or database service is required. LibreOffice connects to its own HSQLDB v1.8 service. That said, if you decide to run a separate database service on whatever hardware you happen to have (laptop, desktop, whatever, local or remote), LibreOffice most likely has the capability (through connector software packaged with LO or separately) be able to connect to it.

That said, if the database must be always on or has many records (millions, billions, etc.), or many concurrent users, specific server hardware would improve your experience.

(if this answered your question, please accept the answer by clicking the check (image description) to the left)