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Guile DBI

guile-dbi provides a simple, generic, easy-to-use guile scheme interface to SQL databases, such as Postgres, MySQL or SQLite3.

The system is 'generic' in the sense that the same programming interface (front end) can be used with different databases. The DBI (database independent) part provides the scheme interfaces. The DBD (database dependent) plugins connect to an actual SQL server. Currently, there are DBD back-ends for Postgres, MySQL and SQLite3. Creating additional DBD back-ends requires a small amount of C coding, but is a straightforward task.

Guile-dbi is simple - which is both a blessing and a curse. For the most part, all that it does is to accept guile strings encoding SQL statements, forward these to the database, and return rows as scheme association lists. A minimal amount of translation is performed - for example, SQL floating point columns are converted to scheme floating point numbers - but there is nothing fancier than this - there is no special treatment for dates, currencies, etc. At this time, there is no support for prepared statements. Capable programmers are invited to add support for this and other missing features.

Someone clever might want to figure out how to replace the C code by generic FFI interfaces, so that there would not be any need at all for any C code. However, that takes more work, and the code here works OK, so, for now, things seem OK.


The guile-dbi user-manual and reference is here.

A copy of the old, defunct website is here.

Mailing List

All discussion of guile-dbi should be directed to:

Bugs should be reported to the guile-dbi github site.

Building and Installing

Currently, the source code is organized into four distinct projects: The main database-independent code in DBI, and three different DBD drivers. You have to build each independently. You will need to do something like this:

apt-get install autoconf automake texinfo

or maybe

yum install autoconf automake texinfo


cd guile-dbi
./ --no-configure


ACLOCAL_PATH=/usr/local/share/aclocal/ ./ --no-configure


mkdir build
cd build
sudo make install


cd guile-dbd-[mysql, postgresql, sqlite3]
./ --no-configure
mkdir build
cd build
sudo make install

After doing this, the tutorial in the user manual should work fine.


Guile-dbi is distributed under the Gnu GPLv2 license. Code and website were developed by Maurizio Boriani (2005-2006) and are currently maintained by Linas Vepstas (2008-2019).




  • C 41.9%
  • Shell 23.3%
  • Makefile 15.9%
  • M4 10.4%
  • Scheme 5.8%
  • HTML 2.7%