Starting kdb+

This is a quick-start guide to kdb+, aimed primarily at those learning independently. It covers system installation, the kdb+ environment, IPC, tables and typical databases, and where to find more material. After completing this you should be able to follow the Borror textbook Q for Mortals, and the Reference and consult the Knowledge base.

One caution: you can learn kdb+ reasonably well by independent study, but for serious deployment of the product you need the help of a consultant. This is because kdb+ is typically used for very demanding applications that require experience to set up properly. Contact Kx for help with such evaluations.


The kdb+ system is both a database and a programming language:

kdb+ the database (k database plus).

q the programming language for working with kdb+


The best resource for learning q. It includes:


Other material

Several background articles and links can be found in the Archive. For example, the Thalesians’ Knowledge Base Kdb has a good overview.

Discussion groups

Install free system

If you do not already have access to a licensed copy, go to Get started to download and install q.

Example files

Two sets of scripts are referenced in this guide:

  1. The free system is distributed with the following example scripts in the main directory:

    • sp.q – the Suppliers and Parts sample database
    • trade.q – a stock trades sample database

    If you do not have these scripts, get them from KxSystems/kdb and save them in your QHOME directory.

  2. Other example files are in the KxSystems/cookbook/start directory.

    Move the start directory under your QHOME directory, e.g. q/start. For example, there should be a file:

    c:\q\start\buildhdb.q         / Windows
    ~/q/start/buildhdb.q          / Linux and macOS

Text editor for Windows

Since q source is in plain text files, it is worth installing a good text editor such as Notepad++ or Notepad2.

Some text editors have extensions to provide e.g. syntax highlighting for q. See the list of editor integrations

Graphical user interface

When q is run, it displays a console where you can enter commands and see the results. This is all you need to follow the tutorial, and if you just want to learn a little about q, then it is easiest to work in the console.

As you become more familiar with q, you may try one of the GUIs.