Net::Z3950::DBIServer::Install - The zSQLgate Installation Guide


Before you can install zSQLgate, you need to have already installed both its front end, which speaks Z39.50, and its back end, which is a relational database. The front end is Index Data's Net::Z3950::SimpleServer module, which itself depends on their YAZ toolkit. The back end is Perl's DBI (DataBase Independent) module, together with the driver for some particular RDBMS, plus the RDBMS itself.


zSQLgate provides an Z39.50 interface to your relational databases. That is, it provides a generic gateway between the Z39.50 Information Retrieval protocol and pretty much any relational database you care to mention.

In order to provide a gateway between those two things, it needs those two things to be there. That means that there are quite a lot of prerequisites, since both the Z39.50 front end and the relational database back end are pretty complex systems. And of course, you'll need Perl itself - the language in which zSQLgate is written.

This may appear a daunting list, but take heart! You probably have most of these things already. It's pretty much impossible to buy a Real Computer without Perl these days, for example. And you probably already have the database system that you want to build a gateway for (otherwise why do you want a gateway to it?)

The following sections deal in some detail with the various things that need to be installed. The order they're listed in works fine: you can just follow the list if you like. But you don't need to adhere to its exact order. Here are the actual dependencies:

Basically, if you start with Perl, the database system and the YAZ toolkit, none of which have any prerequisites, you should be OK.


Install Perl.

Building and installing Perl, if you don't already have it, it an art-form in itself. Reams have been written about the process, but fortunately you should never have to read any of it, since pretty much every Real Computer these days comes with Perl already installed - if only because it's widely used behind the scenes for system administration tasks.

To see if you have Perl, go to the shell prompt and type

        $ perl -e 'print 2+2'

If you get 4, you're OK, and can skip to the next section. If you get command not found, you may not have Perl (or it may not be in your path). If you get 5, you've got real problems :-)

If you're running any kind of Unix (including Linux), then the odds are good that your operating system's install media have a ready-to-go Perl package that you can breathe into life. If you're running on Windows, then the best way to get Perl installed is to install Linux and then ... No, wait! I promised myself not to get bogged down in operating system evangelism :-) You should be able to get pre-built Win32 binaries at - the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network.

Install an RDBMS.

If you already have the database that you want to build a Z39.50 gateway to, then you no doubt also have the RDBMS (relational database management system) software that controls it; so you're OK.

If you're building a system from scratch, then you'll need to install the database software. That can be anything from a trivial to a wizardly process. At the simplest end of the scale, I did the bulk of the zSQLgate development work using a PostgreSQL database which I installed from packages on my Red Hat 7.1 CD-ROM. It went like this:

        # mount /mnt/cdrom
        # rpm -Uhv /mnt/cdrom/RedHat/RPMS/postgresql-7.0.3-8.i386.rpm
        # rpm -Uhv /mnt/cdrom/RedHat/RPMS/postgresql-server-7.0.3-8.i386.rpm 
        # rpm -Uhv /mnt/cdrom/RedHat/RPMS/postgresql-devel-7.0.3-8.i386.rpm

(You need the core package for the client libraries; the server package so you can run the server (duh!); and the the development package so that you can build DBD::Pg against its header files later.)

Then I created the actual database:

        $ mkdir -p /usr/local/postgres/data
        $ initdb --pglib=/usr/lib/pgsql --pgdata=/usr/local/postgres/data
        $ postmaster -D /usr/local/postgres/data

More recently, I have been working with MySQL running on Debian GNU/Linux, which I installed like this:

        # apt-get install mysql-client
        # apt-get install mysql-common
        # apt-get install mysql-server

But - this goes without saying, I am sure - these are just examples of how two particular RDBMSs can be installed. They are all very different from each other.

Which RDBMS should you choose? That's a whole subject in itself. The DBI::FAQ document (section 3.7, What database do you recommend me using?) speaks highly of mSQL and MySQL (both of which used to be free, and the latter of which still is) and Oracle and Informix (both not at all free!). To this list, I would add PostgreSQL (also free, which helps, and it's part of recent Red Hat distributions, hence my very easy installation). Others say great things about Sybase, or IBM's DB2; and at the other end of the scale, there's a Perl module (DBD::CSV) that presents an RDBMS-like interface to boring old CVS files - that is, text files in which each line is a record, with the fields separated by commas.

A few URLs:

Basically, this is a Holy War subject. Use what works for you. If you really have no preference, then get one of the free ones: they're good.

Install the DBI module.

Ah, now this is much easier. DBI is Perl's DataBase Independent interface, which presents a uniform interface to pretty much any RDBMS (and which is responsible for zSQLgate's multilinguality.) In principle, it's similar to ODBC, although it's very different in the details.

DBI is a refreshingly straightforward module to build and install, using the standard sequence of commands:

        $ gunzip < DBI-1.20.tar.gz | tar xf -
        $ cd DBI-1.20
        $ perl Makefile.PL
        $ make
        $ make test
        $ su
        # make install

(You can find the DBI module, like all respectable Perl modules, on CPAN. Versions 1.20 and 1.32 are known to work with zSQLgate, but all more recent version will work fine, too, and there is no reason to think that older versions won't.)

Install the DBI driver for the RDBMS of your choice.

DBI provides the uniform front end to any RDBMS, but to make it work, you need a driver for for the specific RDBMS you want to use. The drivers are found in modules with names of the form DBD::something where something is related to the name of the RDBMS. For example, the driver for PostgreSQL is called DBD::Pg and the driver for MySQL is called DBD::mysql. If you poke around on CPAN, you'll be able to find drivers for most of the well-known RDBMSs, including all those discussed above.

Once you've fetched your driver (from CPAN, natch), you can unpack it and build it just as you did with DBI itself: perl Makefile.PL, make, make test and then - as root - make install.

Most DBI drivers need to be told at build time where the RDBMS is installed. Usually, the perl Makefile.PL stage will complain if you've not done this, or if you've got it wrong. For example, in order to build the PostgreSQL driver, I had to set two environment variables specifying where the PostgreSQL libraries and header files were:

        $ POSTGRES_LIB=/usr/lib  # location of
        $ POSTGRES_INCLUDE=/usr/include/pgsql

But again, you'll have to do something different if you're using a different RDBMS. Consult your DBI driver's documentation for details.

Increasingly these days Linux distributions include pre-built packages for the more commonly used DBD drivers. For example, I installed the MySQL driver on my Debian box like this:

        # apt-get install mysql-server libdbd-mysql-perl

Install the YAZ toolkit.

YAZ is written in C. You'll need to download it from and unpack it, then just:

        $ ./configure
        $ make
        $ su
        # make install

Yes, it's that easy. No, nothing can go wrong. Not only is YAZ robust, efficient, battle tested and elegant code, it's also a cinch to build. Go, Index Data!

Install the Net::Z3950::SimpleServer module.

Penultimate lap. You need the SimpleServer module on which zSQLgate is built: go to and download it. Unpack the archive, and do the usual Perl thing: perl Makefile.PL, make, make test and then, as root, make install.

Install zSQLgate itself.

You've surely got the hang of this by now? :-) Unpack the archive, then perl Makefile.PL, make ... Ah, you can figure the rest out. (OK, for those of a nervous disposition, the sequence ends: make test and then, as root, make install)

Congratulations. You're done!

### Install XSLT support - see


Here are a few of the thing that might go wrong:

No C Compiler

When you come to build DBI, a DBI driver, YAZ or the SimpleServer module, you may find that the make phase fails, saying something like:

        make: cc: Command not found

This means you don't have a C compiler installed (or its not in your path). Go to your operating system's install media and remedy this deficiency. If the CD-ROM doesn't have a C compiler on it, then you have problems: this used to happen a lot years ago - it was called ``unbundling'' - but it's thankfully very rare now except on Microsoft operating systems. If that's your problem, then your best best is probably just to upgrade to a Real Computer. Oops, sorry, it just slipped out.

Missing DBI Driver

When you come to actually run zSQLgate, you may find that it starts correctly but dies when a client connects to it, saying something like:

        install_driver(CSV) failed: Can't locate DBD/ in @INC
        Perhaps the DBD::CSV perl module hasn't been fully installed,
        or perhaps the capitalisation of 'CSV' isn't right.
        Available drivers: ExampleP, Pg, Proxy.

Actually, this message is pretty clear: it's telling you that you've not installed the driver that zSQLgate's configuration file wants to use. You'll need to go back to CPAN and find, download, unpack, build and install the relevant driver.

(Why does this message only appear when a client connects? Because DBI loads its drivers at run-time - in fact, at the point where it tries to connect to the RDBMS - rather than when the Perl program is compiled. Which is, of course, because it can't tell in advance what drivers you're going to want to use.)


If all this just seems too much, or if you're really stuck, installation consultancy is available from the author. Email me.


Mike Taylor <>

First version Thursday 7th March 2002.