After making the whole-hog switch to Linux at work, I’ve been gradually reassembling the pieces of my development environment in the order of need (not priority). Some of these pieces are easy. Web server? Easy. IDE? Easy. ERD tool? Not so easy. I didn’t really have any idea what ERD tools, specifically for use in database design, were available for Linux.
In Windows development environments, I tend to use a Win-centric product called DBDesigner 4. I’m familiar with Dia and have even used it on Windows, but I’ve never particularly enjoyed that experience so I was hoping to find something better. After digging around and asking a few questions, what I found is that there’s a something of a dearth of these tools available for Linux. After a day or so of searching and waiting for answers to my questions, it occurred to me that maybe I could just install DBDesigner 4 via Wine.
I’d heard that the functionality of Windows apps in Linux can be pretty spotty using Wine, but I’d lose nothing by trying. Besides, even on Windows, DBDesigner has more than a few quirks (though nothing serious or even seriously annoying). To my surprise, it worked beautifully. Once I installed Wine and downloaded the DBDesigner installer, I was able to run the installer executable via Wine without a hitch. What I’d heard about spotty functionality turned out to be true – at least with respect to this app which, it should be pointed out, is not listed as a supported application in the Wine database. Nonetheless, after roughly a week of regular use, I haven’t run across anything serious and I’d call the experience a good one. Certainly better than having no ERD tool at all.
If anyone is looking for a decent ERD tool for Linux, you could do far worse than to install DBDesigner 4 via Wine. The project has been rolled into the MySQL Workbench effort, but the legacy installer is still available on the fabFORCE downloads page.
A few days after installing DBDesigner, I was told about a product called SQL Developer that also looks pretty nice. It appears to be a Java application that will, of course, run natively on Linux. It seems to be worth a look.