MDB Tools Installation Guide


MDB Tools is composed of


libmdb is the lowest level library. It handles the details of reading from and writing to the MDB file format. Atop this library sits all the other functionality of MDB Tools.

A complete description of libmdb will be available in the forthcoming MDB Tools Programmer’s Guide. For now you can look at the utility programs for a general idea of how to use the API, it’s fairly straightforward.

LibMDBSQL (the SQL Engine)

LibMDBSQL is an SQL engine which provides a subset of the SQL query language to access MDB databases. It is used with the ODBC driver, by the mdb-sql utility, and by the query window in gmdb2.

For a description of the supported SQL, see the mdb-sql man page.


LibMDBODBC is an ODBC driver that works with the unixODBC driver manager to allow MDB Tools to work with such programs as PHP and Perl (via DBD::ODBC). At the time of this writing, the breadth of coverage for the driver is rather limited. If you have specific problems with it, please contact the list and they can most likely be resolved.

The ODBC driver relies on LibMDB and LibMDBSQL.


Gmdb2 is a graphical interface to the functionality of MDB Tools. Its interface resembles that of access with a tabbed interface to each of the object types in the database (tables, queries, forms, etc…). Additonally, it sports an SQL Query window, and a file debugger useful for developers or anybody interested in examining the dark secrets of the MDB file format.

For information on how to use gmdb2, see the manual under the Help menu.


MDB Tools like any most packages has some requirements for libraries and such on your system. Most of them are optional and will turn off certain features if not present.

The following matrix lists all requirements and which features they affect. An X in the major feature categories (SQL, ODBC, gmdb2) means these features will be turned off if the prequisite is not found.

Name SQL ODBC gmdb2 Source Notes
glib 2.0 X X X Absolutely required, will not install without
readline Supports history in mdb-sql, will compile without history if not found.
bison X X gmdb2 will not have a SQL window and mdb-sql will be stubbed out.
flex X X gmdb2 will not have a SQL window and mdb-sql will be stubbed out.
unixODBC   X  
Gnome 2.0     X  
libglade     X  
wordexp         Part of the OS, without it ~ expansion in SQL engine will be disabled