Developing odbc

This vignette is intended to help developers of the R package install needed dependencies.

While the odbc package contains some documentation on how to install and configure database drivers in vignette("setup"), the documentation assumes that users are connecting to databases that have already been set up. In order to test package functionality, though, odbc sets up small example database deployments.

For the most part, this vignette assumes a MacOS system with aarch64 (e.g. M1 or M2) architecture. For Linux example code, see .github/workflows/db.yaml, and for Windows, see .github/workflows/db-windows.yml.


On MacOS, install PostgreSQL with:

brew install postgresql@14

You’ll also need to install and configure the PostgreSQL driver psqlodbc; see vignette("setup") to learn more.

To launch a PostgreSQL server locally, run:

brew services start postgresql@14

Next, create a database called “test” (or by whatever name is in the entry Database in your odbc.ini file):

createdb test

At this point, you should be able to connect to PostgreSQL through the R interface. Connect with:

postgres <- dbConnect(odbc(), "PostgreSQL")

where "PostgreSQL" is replaced with whatever DSN you’ve configured.


First, installing MySQL with Homebrew:

brew install mysql@8.2

MariaDB drivers are compatible with MySQL and are more easily installed than MySQL drivers themselves in most cases. To install the MariaDB driver:

brew install mariadb-connector-odbc

Then, link the MariaDB driver with your MySQL data source name. That is, with the driver name [MariaDB] configuring your MariaDB install in odbcinst.ini, the first lines of your odbc.ini entry should look something like:

Driver = MariaDB

After running brew services start mysql if needed, and confirming that the database is running with brew services info mysql, you should be able to:

dbConnect(odbc(), "MySQL")

The second argument "MySQL" refers to the data source name configured above.

SQL Server test setup

To run Microsoft SQL Server on aarch64 (e.g. M1 or M2) MacOS, you will need:

If needed, install Docker with:

brew install --cask docker

The Docker Desktop app provides a GUI to monitor deployed Docker containers and lives in > Show Package Contents > Contents > MacOS > Docker

To install the SQL Server ODBC driver and (optional) command line tool, use:

brew tap microsoft/mssql-release
brew install microsoft/mssql-release/msodbcsql18 microsoft/mssql-release/mssql-tools18

The odbc.ini entry should look something like:

driver = ODBC Driver 18 for SQL Server
Server =
port = 1433
Encrypt = no

With the driver name in odbcinst.ini being [ODBC Driver 18 for SQL Server].

With docker and the needed driver installed, deploy the container with:

sudo docker run \
  --platform linux/amd64 \
  -e "ACCEPT_EULA=Y" \
  -e 'MSSQL_SA_PASSWORD=BoopBop123!' \
  -p 1433:1433 \
   --name sql1 \
   --hostname sql1 \

The --platform tag is correct for M1; if you see Status: Exited (1) in Docker Desktop or a warning about incompatible architectures, navigate to Settings > General and ensure that Use Rosetta for x86/amd64 emulation on Apple Silicon is checked.

To connect via odbc, we need to pass the UID and PWD via the connection string; configuring those arguments via odbc.ini is not permitted. With the container deployed as above, the connection arguments would be:

con <- dbConnect(
  dsn = "MicrosoftSQLServer", 
  uid = "SA", 
  pwd = "BoopBop123!"

Then do some configuration of the server to add a testuser and create the test database

To configure a server to add a testing user and create a test database:

# Add a test user, but currently unused
dbExecute(con, "USE test")
dbExecute(con, "EXEC sp_configure 'contained database authentication', 1")
dbExecute(con, "RECONFIGURE")
dbExecute(con, "alter database test set containment = partial")
dbExecute(con, "CREATE USER testuser with password = 'BoopBop123!'")
dbExecute(con, "GRANT CONTROL TO testuser")
dbExecute(con, "DROP USER testuser")

# Create a test database
dbExecute(con, "CREATE DATABASE test")

On Linux, create a docker container with:

docker run -v "$(pwd)":"/opt/$(basename $(pwd))":delegated --security-opt=seccomp:unconfined --link sql1 -it rstudio/r-base:3.6.1-bionic /bin/bash

Then run:

curl | apt-key add -
#Ubuntu 18.04
curl > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mssql-release.list

apt-get update
ACCEPT_EULA=Y apt-get install -y msodbcsql17
apt-get install -y unixodbc-dev

The resulting odbc.ini file will look something like:

driver = ODBC Driver 17 for SQL Server
Server = sql1
port = 1433
Database = test


MacOS provides SQLite natively. With the SQLite odbc driver installed (see vignette("setup") if needed), run:

dbConnect(odbc(), "SQLite")

The above example assumes the configured SQLite DSN is called "SQLite".


A huge pain.

Get the DB container:

docker login

docker pull store/oracle/database-enterprise:

Start the container:

docker run -d -it --name oracle_db -P store/oracle/database-enterprise:

The -P is important to set up the port forwarding from the docker container.

Then, query the port and edit the ports in tnsnames.ora:

docker port oracle_db

The contents of snsnames.ora should look like:


Ensure that the current working directly is set appropriately.

Then, to add a new user to the database:

docker exec -it oracle_db bash -c "source /home/oracle/.bashrc; sqlplus SYS/Oradoc_db1 AS SYSDBA"
alter session set "_ORACLE_SCRIPT"=true;

create user test identified by 12345;


Finally, in R:

Sys.setenv("TNS_ADMIN" = getwd())
con <- dbConnect(odbc::odbc(), "OracleODBC-19")


To obtain a Snowflake account:

Install drivers using the instructions on the Snowflake documentation. For MacOS, feel free to ignore sections noting that iODBC is required.

On MacOS and Linux:

The odbc.ini file should look like:

Driver      = Snowflake
Description =
uid         = <uid>
server      = <deployment-url>

The above assumes Driver = Snowflake is configured in odbcinst.ini. Then, connect by supplying the password as an argument:

con <- dbConnect(odbc(), dsn = "Snowflake", pwd = Sys.getenv("snowflakePass"))

In the above, the password has been set as Sys.setenv(snowflakePass = "actualPass").


We need to install the RODBC package for benchmarking in the vignette vignette("benchmarks"). The CRAN version of RODBC uses iODBC, so to use unixODBC we need to recompile it from source, specifying the odbc manager explicitly:

install.packages("RODBC", type = "source", INSTALL_opts="--configure-args='--with-odbc-manager=odbc'")