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One of the design goals of Firebird 1.5 is to prepare the way for multiple
installs of the server. This will allow users to run different versions
side by side. Firebird 1.5 does support this, although it is not well
documented and very much requires intervention from a skilled user. Future
versions of Firebird will make this process far less complicated. In the
meantime Firebird 1.5 needs to prepare the ground. This forces us to
confront the issue of library installation. At the same time, Microsoft
have taken their own steps to manage installation of different library
versions. Taken together these two separate issues mean a new approach to
library installation for Firebird 1.5 and beyond.
1/ Installation of Microsoft system libraries.
The problems associated with installing different versions of Microsoft
system libraries are so notorious that it has acquired the name
'DLL Hell'.
From the release of Windows 2000 onwards Microsoft have made it almost
impossible to upgrade system dll's. To resolve this Microsoft now
recommend that each application installs local copies of any system
libraries that are required.
Firebird 1.5 follows this practice for all Microsoft platforms from
Windows 2000 onwards and places the required libraries in the \bin directory
along with the server. When installed on older systems (Win 9x, NT) it follows
the standard practice and attempts to upgrade older versions of the system
2/ Installation of fbclient.dll.
Firebird 1.5 and beyond no longer use gds32.dll as the client library.
It is now called fbclient.dll. Given the problems that Microsoft have
had with DLL hell it wouldn't make much sense if we continued to store the
Firebird client library in the <system> directory. And as we want to allow
installation of multiple engines simultaneously we would be creating our
own DLL hell if we continued the practice of using the <system> directory
for the client library. So, from Firebird 1.5 on, the client library resides
in the \bin directory along with all the other binaries.
A new registry key has been added and all Firebird compliant applications
should now use this to locate the correct version of Firebird that they wish
to use. The new key is:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Firebird Project\Firebird Server\Instances
Firebird will guarantee that one entry under this key always exists. It will
be known as
and will store the path to the root directory of (yes, you've guessed it)
the default installation. Those that don't care about particular
installations can alway use the default instance to locate the fbclient.dll.
Future versions of Firebird will see other entries under Instances.
Applications will be able to enumerate the registry entries to determine
which library instance the wish to load.
3/ Supporting legacy applications and drivers.
Traditionally, applications that use InterBase or Firebird have expected to
load the gds32.dll client library from the <system> directory. Firebird 1.5
ships a tool named 'instclient.exe' that can install a clone of fbclient.dll
to the Windows System directory. This clone gets patched on the fly so that
its file version information starts in "6.3". This is done so because some
old applications do extra checks on the GDS32.DLL file version. Based on a
lot of experiments, it has been determined that 6.3 is a safe "compatible"
version number to use, much better than "1.5".
During the installation process the installer checks to see if an
installation of InterBase or Firebird exists. If nothing is installed
it will write a patched gds32.dll into the <system> directory. If it detects
that any possible version of Firebird or InterBase may already be installed
it will not install the gds32.dll in the <system> directory. However
you can always do so later by using the new 'instclient.exe' tool.
It is intended that future versions of Firebird will not attempt to
install gds32.dll into the <system> directory and ultimately it will
be completely removed from the distribution.
This 'instclient.exe' tool can also install the FBCLIENT.DLL itself in the
Windows system directory. This can be preferred by some tools or
applications and we don't want to miss any use case.
instclient i[nstall] [ -f[orce] ] library
q[uery] library
r[emove] library
where library is: fbclient | gds32
This utility should be located and run from the 'bin' directory
of your Firebird installation.
'-z' can be used with any other option, prints version
This utility manages deployment of the Firebird client library
into the Windows system directory. It caters for two installation
Deployment of the native fbclient.dll.
Deployment of gds32.dll to support legacy applications.
Version information and shared library counts are handled
automatically. You may provide the -f[orce] option to override
version checks.
Please, note that if you -f[orce] the installation, you might have
to reboot the machine in order to finalize the copy and you might
break some other Firebird or InterBase(R) version on the system.
You can’t perform that action at this time.