FreeBSD && remote MS ACCESS database

Bill Moran wmoran at
Tue Nov 10 16:12:56 UTC 2009

In response to Dan Nelson <dnelson at>:

> In the last episode (Nov 10), Matthias Apitz said:
> > Is there any chance to read and update a remote MS ACCSESS database from
> > FreeBSD 8-CURRENT, via ODBC?  Thanks in advance
> With samba, wine, and a local install of Office, sure.  ODBC is a
> programming API, not a networking protocol, so you need direct access to the
> .mdb file.  MS Access is the only thing that can read .mdb files, so that's why
> you need wine and a local Office install.

Not quite accurate.  The .mdb format is supported by a number of Microsoft
products.  In particular, MS offers an ODBC driver that read/writes the
.mdb files and makes it look like any other ODBC device.  I don't know if
there's an equivalent for FreeBSD (or anything other than Windows).

> If you really need remote access to the data, move the tables into a
> client-server database (mysql, postgres, etc) so you can get to them
> directly from Unix, and use linked tables in your .mdb file so Access itself
> will still work.

Connecting to a .mdb-based database remotely is fraught with peril.  I've
seen dozens of .mdb databases corrupted over my years because some weird
file locking glitch or network glitch caused the files to become mangled.
Add to that the fact that an .mdb database has absolutely no security (to
the degree that any user could simply delete the entire thing) and I have
to agree with Dan's assertion that you'll be much better off, long run,
to move this onto a read DB server.

Bill Moran

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