keywords: constant database key-valuepublic domain tinycdb cdb.

cdb, or the Constant Database, is a simple key-value read only database format, originaly created by Dan J Bernstein.

original cdb program

The original cdb program can be found at


tinycdb is another implementation of the cdb library. This library has a pretty straightforward C API, and has also been placed in the public domain.

file format specification

the file format spec, adopted from the cdb website.

A structure for constant databases
Copyright 1996
D. J. Bernstein,

A cdb is an associative array: it maps strings ("keys") to strings

A cdb contains 256 pointers to linearly probed open hash tables. The
hash tables contain pointers to (key,data) pairs. A cdb is stored in
a single file on disk.

    | p0 p1 ... p255 | records | hash0 | hash1 | ... | hash255 |

Each of the 256 initial pointers states a position and a length. The
position is the starting byte position of the hash table. The length
is the number of slots in the hash table.

Records are stored sequentially, without special alignment. A record
states a key length, a data length, the key, and the data.

Each hash table slot states a hash value and a byte position. If the
byte position is 0, the slot is empty. Otherwise, the slot points to
a record whose key has that hash value.

Positions, lengths, and hash values are 32-bit quantities, stored in
little-endian form in 4 bytes. Thus a cdb must fit into 4 gigabytes.

A record is located as follows. Compute the hash value of the key in
the record. The hash value modulo 256 is the number of a hash table.
The hash value divided by 256, modulo the length of that table, is a
slot number. Probe that slot, the next higher slot, and so on, until
you find the record or run into an empty slot.

The cdb hash function is "h = ((h << 5) + h) ^ c", with a starting
hash of 5381.

related projects

sdb is a KV database by radare based on djb's cdb disk storage.

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