Paul Bullen, Principal License Consultant, Version 1

Oracle last released a version of their free-but-restricted XE (Express Edition) database for 11.2 in 2011, meaning a new release has been long-awaited and represents a change in release cycle for XE.

Oracle will now release a new version of XE annually (but likely offset by a number of months) with the corresponding database release; i.e. in 2019 there’ll be a 19c and a 19c XE, in 2020 a 20c and 20c XE and so forth.

XE editions will remain unpatchable and so consideration needs to be given to security and annual upgrades.

Oracle XE 18c retains a number of significant restrictions but in an apparent effort to increase adoption of Oracle features, more of the advantages and options of their ‘flagship’ Enterprise Edition have been included.

Interestingly some of the extra cost options that are not present in Standard Editions (SE, SE1, SE2) are included in XE which may be felt as a ‘shun’ to customers using SE databases – indeed, in some cases it is likely that some SE workloads may be able to move to XE.

You should give consideration to any small databases you have and whether they could run on either XE or SE2 – the cost savings are significant and the restrictions often not something which impacts actual usage.

Firstly, some of the restrictions:

  • One instance per server (no change)
  • 2 user threads (no change)
  • 2Gb of RAM (previously 1Gb)
  • 12Gb of user data (previously 11Gb)

The ‘headline’ extra cost features:

  • Partitioning
  • Multitenant
  • Advanced Compression
  • Spatial and Graph
  • Advanced Analytics

More detailed overview of included functionality:

  • Multitenant for up to 3 pluggable databases
  • Flashback table
  • Flashback database
  • Advanced security
  • Spatial
  • Graph and Semantic technologies
  • Advanced Compression (could work well to extend the 12Gb of user data)
  • Advanced Index Compression
  • Column and Tablespace level encryption
  • Prefix Compression
  • Partitioning
  • Transportable tablespaces
  • Java DB
  • Online index rebuild, index organised table organisation
  • Database Vault
  • Virtual Private Database
  • Redaction
  • Client-side Query Cache
  • PL/SQL Function Result Cache
  • Table redefinition
  • Fine grained auditing
  • Real application Security
  • Advanced Analytics
  • Summary management
  • Sharded queues
  • In-memory column store
  • In-memory aggregation and attribute checking


If you are looking for a free Oracle database edition with full code compatibility plus some free extra cost options, albeit operating under some restrictions, the new and improved 18c XE may be worth considering.

More information available from the Oracle website here.

More from Paul Bullen: Making Sense of Oracle Technology Enterprise Agreements

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