An update to Apache's Derby database has been released, shoving the project into the limelight for the first time.

Apache Derby sees the project graduate from its "incubator" status to an Apache subproject. Changes include a new, open source network client driver for remote access to the Derby network server, which means developers no longer have to use IBM's Universal JDBC driver, as well as other updates and fixes.

The software and more can information can be found on Apache's site here.

New projects often go through the incubation stage to help assess their maturity and ability to attract developers, and to help set up the infrastructure they need to grow. Derby began life as a mobile database developed by a software startup called Cloudscape, which was acquired by Informix Software in 1999. Informix was in turn acquired by IBM, which donated Cloudscape to the Apache Software Foundation last year for development under the Derby project.

It is a lightweight, Java-based relational database with a memory footprint of only about 2MB. It's significantly less resource-intensive than enterprise databases such as IBM's DB2. Its target use is to underpin small websites, point-of-sale systems and departmental-level or small-business applications. It runs on standard SQL and JDBC.