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Connecting to the sample database

Server name and path
The CONNECT statement

In the examples subdirectory of your Firebird installation is a sample database named employee.gdb. You can use this database to “try your wings”.


If you are running the server on Windows XP or ME, be sure to rename this test database to employee.fdb to get around the System Restore utility, which targets files with a .gdb extension. There is more information about this problem in the Release Notes (look in the doc subdir of your Firebird installation).

Server name and path

If you move the sample database, be sure you move it to a hard disk that is physically attached to your server machine. Shares, mapped drives or (on Unix) mounted SMB (Samba) filesystems will not work. The same rule applies to any databases that you create.

There are two elements to a TCP/IP connection string: the server name and the disk/filesystem path. Its format is as follows:

  • For a Linux server:


    Example on a Linux or other Posix server named serverxyz:


  • For a Windows server:


    Windows example:

    serverxyz:C:\Program Files\Firebird\examples\employee.gdb

The CONNECT statement

Connecting to a Firebird database requires the user to authenticate using a user name and a valid password. Any user other than SYSDBA, root (on Posix systems), or Administrator (on Windows systems, if Firebird runs as this user) needs also to have permissions to objects inside a database. For simplicity here, we will look at authenticating as SYSDBA using the password masterkey.

Using isql

There are several different ways to connect to a database using isql. One way is to start isql in its interactive shell. Go to the bin subdirectory of your Firebird installation and, at that prompt, type the command isql (on Linux: ./isql) [↵ means “hit Enter”]:

C:\Program Files\Firebird\bin>isql↵
Use CONNECT or CREATE DATABASE to specify a database
SQL>CONNECT "C:\Program Files\Firebird\examples\employee.gdb"↵
CON>user 'SYSDBA' password 'masterkey';↵


  • In isql, every SQL statement must end with a semicolon. If you hit Enter and the line doesn't end with a semicolon, isql assumes that the statement continues on the next line and the prompt will change from SQL> to CON>. This enables you to spread long statements over multiple lines. If you hit Enter after your statement and you've forgotten the semicolon, just type it on the empty line after the CON> prompt and press Enter again.

  • If you run Classic Server on Linux, a fast, direct local connection is attempted if the database path does not start with a hostname. This may fail if your Linux login doesn't have sufficient access rights to the database file. In that case, connect to localhost:/<path>. Then the server process (with Firebird 1.0 usually running as root) will open the file. On the other hand, network-style connections may fail if a user created the database in Classic local mode and the server doesn't have enough access rights.


Although single quote symbols are the “norm” for delimiting strings in Firebird, double quote symbols were used with the database path string in the above example. This is sometimes necessary with some of the command-line utilities where the path string contains spaces. Single quotes should work for paths that do not contain spaces.

The quotes around “SYSDBA” and “masterkey” are optional, by the way. Database paths without spaces also don't need to be quoted.

At this point, isql will inform you that you are connected:

DATABASE "C:\Program Files\Firebird\examples\employee.gdb", User: sysdba

You can now continue to play about with the employee.gdb database. The characters isql stand for interactive SQL [utility]. You can use it for querying data, getting information about the metadata, creating database objects, running data definition scripts and much more.

To get back to the command prompt type


For more information about isql, see Using Firebird, Chapter 10: Interactive SQL Utility (isql).

Using a GUI client

GUI client tools usually take charge of composing the CONNECT string for you, using server, path, user name and password information that you type into prompting fields. Use the elements as described in the preceding topic.


  • It is quite common for such tools to expect the entire server + path as a single string

  • Remember that file names and commands on Linux and other Posix command shells are case-sensitive

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Firebird Documentation IndexFirebird 1.0 Quick Start → Connecting to the sample database