Get a Jumpstart with IBM Db2 Community Edition

4 min read

IBM is excited to introduce a new free offering—Db2 Community Edition.

For those familiar with Db2, Db2 Express-C was the free entry point for developers into that world. Developers have long embraced Db2 Express-C for learning, developing, and delivering applications based on Db2. Since then, the Db2 family has revamped its free offering with more capabilities and a seamless upgrade path to larger editions.

IBM is excited to introduce Db2 Community Edition, a free offering that is the base image of Db2 software distributed via trial download sites and Docker hub.  

Db2 Community Edition includes the full features of Db2, enabling users to develop and deploy small applications for free in production or non-production environments. As your requirements grow, Db2 Community is easily upgradable to paid editions by a simple activation key.

How is the new Db2 Community Edition delivered and where do I download?

Db2 Community Edition is available in three form factors so that you can use it in the environment that best meets your requirements (downloadable links are included):

The Docker and standard download options come with the Db2 Community license by default and provide you with the full capabilities of Db2, with software hard enforced at 16GB of memory and 4 cores usage. Alternatively, the Db2 on Cloud Lite Tier limits you to 100MB of user data through a fully managed service on the cloud.

What next?

Getting started with the Docker Hub download is quick and easy. As shown in Adam Storm’s blog, the download time is so fast that you can download and run it on your Mac using Docker in the space of a coffee break.

For example, if you want to run with command line access, all you have to do is to open up a Terminal and type docker exec -it mydb2 bash -c "su - db2inst1" to get to the Db2 command line if using the default installation.

Note: Installation documentation (including setting up HA clusters) is available on the Docker download page. If you wish to upgrade an existing V11.1 deployment, you can simply stop the existing container and start the new one by referencing the existing persistent volume. If you want to run a prior version and new version concurrently, you just need to rename the default instance/persistent volume and specify different ports to run the new image on.

For the standard download deployment, simply follow the installer instructions and refer to the Db2 documentation.

Getting connected

If your application packages do not have the latest Db2 driver, you can easily download the packages you need from two sites, depending on your requirements:

Note: if you are connecting via a JDBC or other client and you have installed the container on your desktop, use the IP address ‘’ as your host name. If you installed with the default instructions, specify the port to be ‘50000.’

Db2 Community Edition license capabilities

Some of the capabilities that you can work with in the new Db2 Community Edition license include the following:

  • Geo Spatial Extensions and XML, JSON/BSON document support
  • Db2’s industry-leading data in-memory and storage compression
  • Machine Learning Query Optimiser
  • Data Studio Developer & Data Server Manager
  • Visual Studio Integration
  • HADR (High Availability Disaster Recovery)
  • Db2’s Data Encryption at Rest / Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) capabilities
  • Support for all Db2 functional capabilities

New Db2 users can take guided product tours and get hands-on experience through cloud-deployed presentations on the Db2  Demo, Video, and Hands-on-Lab Digital Learning Page.

Upgrading to full license or activating a 90-day trial

All three options are upgradable to higher editions or services. For containerised or standard download images, they simply require the application of a license key and a database instance restart to unlock the full capacity of the server.

The trial license key—which will unlock all limits for 90 days—can be activated against the Docker or standard trial install by simply using the db2licm -a  db2aese_t.lic command.

How can I get started developing with Db2?

Apart from product documentation, there are a series of samples and instructions on Github that are regularly updated with newly supported or popular functions so that you can explore Db2 capabilities.

For example, at, you can find Jupyter Notebooks examples that allow you work through guided exercises on using JSON with Db2. There is also an option to build a Jupyter Notebook container for working with Db2.

Where can I find documentation?

While the installations have some documentation on how to get started, the point of reference for how to get going with Db2 for any version or edition can be found here on the Db2 Knowledge Centre Page.

Documentation is available online, and if you are a lover of PDFs, they are also available in PDF versions. The same goes for Data Server Manager, which can be found on its own Support page.

There is also in-depth material on working with different capabilities, including the following:

JSON Documents



What about support?

The Db2 Community Edition License and Db2 on Cloud Free Tier are free without standard Enterprise Support. However, we have a robust online community forum where you can post questions and learn from your peers. Community Support is available through the IBM Community Pages for Db2 or on Twitter.

In essence, the Db2 Community Edition license provides an excellent entry point for those new to the Db2 platform or developers wanting to harness the functionality and performance of the Db2 database engine. For those developers working with the Docker containerised version, it allows hybrid cloud deployment options that range from your desktop to any platform—Kubernetes or Red Hat OpenShift for example—that supports the deployment of containerised solutions.

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