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Apache Derby. This articles explains how to install the Apache Derby database, how to start the Derby server, how to connect via Java to Derby and how to use the Derby command line tool to issue SQL statements. The installation of Apache Derby as Windows Service is also explained.

1. Apache Derby

1.1. Overview

Apache Derby is an open source database written in Java. It is free and performs well. Apache Derby is used in the JDK and is called Java DB. Apache Derby and Java DB are essentially the same. Apache Derby is the reference implementation for JDBC 4.0 and compatible to ANSI-SQL. JDBC is the Java interface to connect to databases.

1.2. Server vs. embedded mode

Derby can be used in a server mode and in a so-called embedded mode. If Derby runs in the server mode you start the Derby network server which will be responsible for handling the database requests. In embedded mode Derby runs within the JVM (Java Virtual Machine) of the application. In this mode only the application can access the database, e.g. another user / application will not be able to access the database.

2. Installation of Derby

Download the latest Derby version from the Apache website http://db.apache.org/derby/. Choose the bin distribution and extract this zip to a directory of your choice.

Also make the Derby tools available in your path:

  • Set the environment variable DERBY_HOME to the Derby installation directory

  • Add DERBY_HOME/bin to the "path" environment variable

3. Server mode

3.1. Starting Derby in server mode

Use the following command in the command line to start the Derby network server (located in the Derby installation directory/bin). On Microsoft Windows it is possible to use the .bat version.


This will start the network server which can serve an unlimited number of databases. By default the server will be listening on port 1527 but this can be changed via the -p option.

startNetworkServer -p 3301

By default Derby will only accept connections from the localhost. To make the Derby server accept connections also from other hosts use the following start command. Replace "sampleserver.sampledomain.com" with the name or the IP of the server. The server will then accept connections only from other servers as the localhost.

startNetworkServer -h sampleserver.sampledomain.com

If connections should be allowed from localhost and any other server use the following.

startNetworkServer -h

3.2. Connect to the Derby Server via Java

To connect to the network server via Java code you need to have the derbyclient.jar in your classpath. The network connection string to this database is the IP address of the server:portnumber. For example for a server which is running on localhost you can create a new database via the following string.


If you want to connect to an existing database you can use the following string.


For example a small Java client might look like the following. This assumes that you have already created a schema called a table users with the columns "name" and "number".

import java.sql.Connection;
import java.sql.DriverManager;
import java.sql.PreparedStatement;
import java.sql.ResultSet;
import java.sql.Statement;

public class DerbyTest {
    private Connection connect = null;
    private Statement statement = null;
    private ResultSet resultSet = null;

    public DerbyTest() throws Exception {
        try {

            connect = DriverManager
            PreparedStatement statement = connect
                    .prepareStatement("SELECT * from USERS");

            resultSet = statement.executeQuery();
            while (resultSet.next()) {
                String user = resultSet.getString("name");
                String number = resultSet.getString("number");
                System.out.println("User: " + user);
                System.out.println("ID: " + number);
        } catch (Exception e) {
            throw e;
        } finally {


    private void close() {
        try {
            if (resultSet != null) {
            if (statement != null) {
            if (connect != null) {
        } catch (Exception e) {


    public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception {
        DerbyTest dao = new DerbyTest();


4. Derby tools

4.1. Using Derby from the command line (ij)

ij is Derby’s interactive JDBC scripting tool. It is a simple utility for running scripts or interactive queries against a Derby database. To start the tool open a command shell and type in "ij". This will start a shell program which can connect to your database and execute SQL commands . Stop this tool with typing in "exit;" and pressing Enter. In ij every line needs to get terminated with ;.

If you want to connect to the Derby database in embedded mode you can use the following command. In this example the database is located at c:\temp\db\FAQ\db.

connect 'jdbc:derby:c:\temp\db\FAQ\db';

If you want to connect to a Derby database which is running in server mode then you can use the following command.

connect 'jdbc:derby://localhost:1527/c:\temp\db\FAQ\db;create=true';

To disconnect from the database.


To run a SQL script from ij use the following command.

run 'sqlscript.sql'

You can also use SQL directly, e.g.

select * from SCHEMA1.USERS where NUMBER='lars'

4.2. SQL dump for the database schema

Use the tool dblook. Type dblook on the console to see the options, the tool is really easy to use. For example to write the schema "myschema" to the file "lars.sql".

dblook -d 'jdbc:derby:c:\temp\db\FAQ\db' -z myschema -o lars.sql

5. Running Derby Server as Windows Service

The Derby Server is started via a batch program. In a server environment this batch program should be automatically started if the server is rebooted / started. The windows program "srvmgr" can be used for this purpose. For details on the tool please check the official documentation; the following will give a description on how this can be done for Apache Derby. Install "srvmgr" and remember the installation path.

We will call our service "ApacheDerby" and the batch file is located under "C:\db-derby\bin\startNetworkServer.bat". In the command line register a service via:

# This assumes the "srvmgr" tools are installed in c:\Windows\system32\
instsrv ApacheDerby c:\Windows\system32\srvany.exe

You should receive a success message.

If something goes wrong and you want to remove an installed service, you can use:

# This will remove a service installed with the name ApacheDerby
instsrv ApacheDerby REMOVE

Run Regedt32.exe and locate the following subkey HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\ApacheDerby.

From the Edit menu, select New  Key and add a key named Parameters.

Select the Parameters key, that you have just created. From the Edit menu, select New  String Value and maintain the following values.

Value Name: Application
Data Type : REG_SZ
String : C:\db-derby\bin\startNetworkServer.bat

Value Name: AppDirectory
Data Type : REG_SZ
String : C:\db-derby\bin\

Value Name: AppParameters
Data Type : REG_SZ
String : -h

Now start/adjust the service in the Windows services control panel.

6. Links and Literature

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