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MySQL Database Server is designed for enterprise organizations delivering business critical database applications. It gives corporate developers, DBAs and ISVs an array of new enterprise features.

I previously explained how to install SQL Server on a Mac via a Docker container. When I wrote that, SQL Server 2017 was the latest version of SQL Server, and it had just been made available for Linux and Docker (which means that you can also install it on MacOS systems).

In late 2018, Microsoft announced SQL Server 2019 Preview, and subsequently announced general release in late 2019. The installation process for SQL Server 2019 is exactly the same as for SQL Server 2017. The only difference is that you need to use the container image for SQL Server 2019 instead of the 2017 image. Here I show you how to do that.

Also, if you already have SQL Server 2017 installed, and you want to install SQL Server 2019 without removing the 2017 version, you’ll need to allocate a different port number on your host. I show you how to do that too.

Docker

The first step is to install Docker. If you already have Docker installed you can skip this step (and jump straight to SQL Server).

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Docker is a platform that enables software to run in its own isolated environment. Therefore, SQL Server 2019 can be run on Docker in its own isolated container.

  1. Install Docker

    To download, visit the Docker CE for Mac download page and click Get Docker.

    To install, double-click on the .dmg file and then drag the Docker.app icon to your Application folder.

  2. Launch Docker

    Launch Docker the same way you’d launch any other application (eg, via the Applications folder, the Launchpad, etc).

    When you open Docker, you might be prompted for your password so that Docker can install its networking components and links to the Docker apps. Go ahead and provide your password, as Docker needs this to run.

  3. Increase the Memory

    By default, Docker will have 2GB of memory allocated to it. I’d suggest increasing it to 4GB if you can.

    To do this:

    1. Select Preferences from the little Docker icon in the top menu
    2. Slide the memory slider up to at least 4GB
    3. Click Apply & Restart

SQL Server

Now that Docker has been installed and configured, we can download and install SQL Server 2019.

  1. Download SQL Server 2019

    Open a Terminal window and run the following command.

    This downloads the latest SQL Server for Linux Docker image to your computer.

    You can also check for the various container image options on the Docker website if you wish.

    Note that, at the time I wrote this article, I used the following image:

    Therefore, all examples below reflect that version.

  2. Launch the Docker Image

    Run the following command to launch an instance of the Docker image you just downloaded:

    Just change Bart to a name of your choosing, and reallyStrongPwd#123 to a password of your choosing.

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    If you get a “port already allocated” error, see below.

    Here’s an explanation of the parameters:

    -e 'ACCEPT_EULA=Y'
    The Y shows that you agree with the EULA (End User Licence Agreement). This is required.
    -e 'SA_PASSWORD=reallyStrongPwd#123'
    Required parameter that sets the sa database password.
    -p 1433:1433
    This maps the local port 1433 to port 1433 on the container. The first value is the TCP port on the host environment. The second value is the TCP port in the container.
    --name Bart
    Another optional parameter. This parameter allows you to name the container. This can be handy when stopping and starting your container from the Terminal. You might prefer to give it a more descriptive name like sql_server_2019 or similar.
    -d
    This optional parameter launches the Docker container in daemon mode. This means that it runs in the background and doesn’t need its own Terminal window open. You can omit this parameter to have the container run in its own Terminal window.
    mcr.microsoft.com/mssql/server:2019-CTP3.2-ubuntu
    This tells Docker which image to use.

    Password Strength

    You need to use a strong password. Microsoft says this about the password:

    The password should follow the SQL Server default password policy, otherwise the container can not setup SQL server and will stop working. By default, the password must be at least 8 characters long and contain characters from three of the following four sets: Uppercase letters, Lowercase letters, Base 10 digits, and Symbols.

    Error – “Port already allocated”?

    If you get an error that says something about “port is already allocated”, then perhaps you already have SQL Server installed on another container that uses that port. In this case, you’ll need to map to a different port on the host.

    Therefore, you could change the above command to something like this:

    In this case I simply changed -p 1433:1433 to -p 1400:1433. Everything else remains the same.

    You may now get an error saying that you need to remove the existing container first. To do that, run the following (but swap Bart with the name of your own container):

    Once removed, you can try running the previous command again.

    Note that if you change the port like I’ve done here, you will probably need to include the port number when connecting to SQL Server from any database tools from your desktop. For example, when connecting via the Azure Data Studio (mentioned below), you can connect by using Localhost,1400 instead of just Localhost. Same with mssql-cli, which is a command line SQL tool.

Check Everything

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Now that we’ve done that, we should be good to go. Let’s go through and run a few checks.

  1. Check the Docker container (optional)

    You can type the following command to check that the Docker container is running.

    In my case I get this:

    This tells me that I have two docker containers up and running: one called Bart and the other called Homer.

  2. Connect to SQL Server

    Here we use the SQL Server command line tool called “sqlcmd” inside the container to connect to SQL Server.

    Enter your password if prompted.

    Now that you’re inside the container, connect locally with sqlcmd:

    This should bring you to the sqlcmd prompt 1>.

  3. Run a Quick Test

    Run a quick test to check that SQL Server is up and running. For example, check the SQL Server version by entering this:

    This will bring you to a command prompt 2> on the next line. To execute the query, enter:

    Result:

    If you see a message like this, congratulations — SQL Server is now up and running on your Mac!

    If you prefer to use a GUI to manage SQL Server, read on.

Azure Data Studio

Azure Data Studio is a free GUI management tool that you can use to manage SQL Server on your Mac. You can use it to create and manage databases, write queries, backup and restore databases, and more.

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Azure Data Studio is available on Windows, Mac and Linux.

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Here are some articles/tutorials I’ve written for Azure Data Studio:

Another Free SQL Server GUI – DBeaver

Another SQL Server GUI tool that you can use on your Mac (and Windows/Linux/Solaris) is DBeaver.

DBeaver is a free, open source database management tool that can be used on most database management systems (such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, SQLite, Oracle, DB2, SQL Server, Sybase, Microsoft Access, Teradata, Firebird, Derby, and more).

I wrote a little introduction to DBeaver, or you can go straight to the DBeaver download page and try it out with your new SQL Server installation.

Here I’ll show you how to get SQL Server up and running on your Mac in less than half an hour. And the best part is, you’ll have SQL Server running locally without needing any virtualization software.

Prior to SQL Server 2017, if you wanted to run SQL Server on your Mac, you first had to create a virtual machine (using VirtualBox, Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion, or Bootcamp), then install Windows onto that VM, then finally SQL Server. This is still a valid option depending on your requirements (here’s how to install SQL Server on a Mac with VirtualBox if you’d like to try that method).

Starting with SQL Server 2017, you can now install SQL Server directly on to a Linux machine. And because macOS is Unix based (and Linux is Unix based), you can run SQL Server for Linux on your Mac. The way to do this is to run SQL Server on Docker.

So let’s go ahead and install Docker. Then we’ll download and install SQL Server.

  1. Install Docker

    Download the (free) Docker Community Edition for Mac (unless you’ve already got it installed on your system). This will enable you to run SQL Server from within a Docker container.

    To download, visit the Docker CE for Mac download page and click Get Docker.

    To install, double-click on the .dmg file and then drag the Docker.app icon to your Application folder.

    What is Docker?

    Docker is a platform that enables software to run in its own isolated environment. SQL Server (from 2017) can be run on Docker in its own isolated container. Once Docker is installed, you simply download — or “pull” — the SQL Server on Linux Docker Image to your Mac, then run it as a Docker container. This container is an isolated environment that contains everything SQL Server needs to run.

  2. Launch Docker

    Launch Docker the same way you’d launch any other application (eg, via the Applications folder, the Launchpad, etc).

    When you open Docker, you might be prompted for your password so that Docker can install its networking components and links to the Docker apps. Go ahead and provide your password, as Docker needs this to run.

  3. Increase the Memory

    By default, Docker will have 2GB of memory allocated to it. SQL Server needs at least 3.25GB. To be safe, increase it to 4GB if you can.

    To do this:

    1. Select Preferences from the little Docker icon in the top menu
    2. Slide the memory slider up to at least 4GB
    3. Click Apply & Restart
  4. Download SQL Server

    Now that Docker is installed and its memory has been increased, we can download and install SQL Server for Linux.

    Open a Terminal window and run the following command.

    This downloads the latest SQL Server 2019 for Linux Docker image to your computer.

    You can also check for the latest container version on the Docker website if you wish.

    Update: When I first wrote this article, I used the following image:

    Which downloaded SQL Server 2017. Therefore, the examples below reflect that version.

  5. Launch the Docker Image

    Run the following command to launch an instance of the Docker image you just downloaded:

    But of course, use your own name and password. Also, if you downloaded a different Docker image, replace microsoft/mssql-server-linux with the one you downloaded.

    Here’s an explanation of the parameters:

    -dThis optional parameter launches the Docker container in daemon mode. This means that it runs in the background and doesn’t need its own Terminal window open. You can omit this parameter to have the container run in its own Terminal window.
    --name sql_server_demoAnother optional parameter. This parameter allows you to name the container. This can be handy when stopping and starting your container from the Terminal.
    -e 'ACCEPT_EULA=Y'The Y shows that you agree with the EULA (End User Licence Agreement). This is required in order to have SQL Server for Linux run on your Mac.
    -e 'SA_PASSWORD=reallyStrongPwd123'Required parameter that sets the sa database password.
    -p 1433:1433This maps the local port 1433 to port 1433 on the container. This is the default TCP port that SQL Server uses to listen for connections.
    microsoft/mssql-server-linuxThis tells Docker which image to use. If you downloaded a different one, use it instead.

    Password Strength

    If you get the following error at this step, try again, but with a stronger password.

    I received this error when using reallyStrongPwd as the password (but of course, it’s not a really strong password!). I was able to overcome this by adding some numbers to the end. However, if it wasn’t just a demo I’d definitely make it stronger than a few dictionary words and numbers.

  6. Check the Docker container (optional)

    You can type the following command to check that the Docker container is running.

    If it’s up and running, it should return something like this:

  7. Install sql-cli (unless already installed)

    Run the following command to install the sql-cli command line tool. This tool allows you to run queries and other commands against your SQL Server instance.

    This assumes you have NodeJs installed. If you don’t, download it from Nodejs.org first. Installing NodeJs will automatically install npm which is what we use in this command to install sql-cli.

    Permissions Error?

    If you get an error, and part of it reads something like Please try running this command again as root/Administrator, try again, but this time prepend sudo to your command:

  8. Connect to SQL Server

    Now that sql-cli is installed, we can start working with SQL Server via the Terminal window on our Mac.

    Connect to SQL Server using the mssql command, followed by the username and password parameters.

    You should see something like this:

    This means you’ve successfully connected to your instance of SQL Server.

  9. Run a Quick Test

    Run a quick test to check that SQL Server is up and running and you can query it.

    For example, you can run the following command to see which version of SQL Server your running:

    If it’s running, you should see something like this (but of course, this will depend on which version you’re running):

    If you see a message like this, congratulations — SQL Server is now up and running on your Mac!

A SQL Server GUI for your Mac – Azure Data Studio

Azure Data Studio (formerly SQL Operations Studio) is a free GUI management tool that you can use to manage SQL Server on your Mac. You can use it to create and manage databases, write queries, backup and restore databases, and more.

Azure Data Studio is available on Windows, Mac and Linux.

Here are some articles/tutorials I’ve written for Azure Data Studio:

Another Free SQL Server GUI – DBeaver

Another SQL Server GUI tool that you can use on your Mac (and Windows/Linux/Solaris) is DBeaver.

DBeaver is a free, open source database management tool that can be used on most database management systems (such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, SQLite, Oracle, DB2, SQL Server, Sybase, Microsoft Access, Teradata, Firebird, Derby, and more).

I wrote a little introduction to DBeaver, or you can go straight to the DBeaver download page and try it out with your new SQL Server installation.

Limitations of SQL Server for Linux/Mac

SQL Server for Linux does have some limitations when compared to the Windows editions (although this could change over time). The Linux release doesn’t include many of the extra services that are available in the Windows release, such as Analysis Services, Reporting Services, etc. Here’s a list of what’s available and what’s not on SQL Server 2017 for Linux and here’s Microsoft’s list of Editions and supported features of SQL Server 2019 on Linux.

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Another limitation is that SQL Server Management Studio is not available on Mac or Linux. SSMS a full-blown GUI management for SQL Server, and it provides many more features than Azure Data Studio and DBeaver (at least at the time of writing). You can still use SSMS on a Windows machine to connect to SQL Server on a Linux or Mac machine, but you just can’t install it locally on the Linux or Mac machine.

If you need any of the features not supported in SQL Server for Linux, you’ll need SQL Server for Windows. However, you can still run SQL Server for Windows on your Mac by using virtualization software. Here’s how to install SQL Server for Windows on a Mac using VirtualBox.

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