Not to make your life more confusing than it already is but...
You have three ways to go for your database, they're all supported
within RoR. I've run all three in my environment but I haven't done
anything with Vista.
1) sqlite3 - only need to install one gem, memory resident, good for
first apps and rapid prototyping. This is the database that rails
sets you up for by default. "gem install sqlite3-ruby" I can't
recall if this gem is installed as part of the rails gem or not.
2) MySql - need to install the MySql server (or point at somebody
else's :-), a db management app, and gem. Real industrial strength
for the growth path we all hope we need. You'll need to learn to do
limited database management work, not huge but can take time away from
Go to http://www.mysql.com/ and follow the download pointers for the
"community server" for your system, it's free. You'll also need to
get the mysql-ruby gem. If you can find a pre-built version for your
system that might be a good approach, otherwise it'll need to be
compiled which means you'll want a c compiler (gcc is fine and
free). The gem source lives at http://www.tmtm.org/en/mysql/ruby/.
I go there because the only version that currently "gem install"s was
released in August 2005. I know I've seen some bug fix chatter
related to windows in the later versions so you might end up there as
well - if you can't find a built package for your machine.
Like the time it takes to learn to dbadmin, this will take time - less
than a coffee if all goes well. The compilation step should be
automatically done as part of the gem install but I know this isn't
always fire and forget. There's also a version
3) postgreSQL - similar situation to mysql, load an application and a
gem - the gem needs to be compiled if you can't find one packaged for
your environment. The app and admin tool both come from
http://wiki.rubyonrails.org/rails/pages/PostgreSQL. This is also the
place to go for documentation, wiki chatter, et al. Nice site in
There are at least three variants of the gem - postgres, postgres-pr,
and pg. pg is the one that works right now, pg (0.7.9.2008.10.13) is
what you should see with "gem list pg --remote". This one will
compile during the install so once again you'll want a c compiler on
Go to http://rubyforge.org/projects/ruby-pg for the gem source if you
So there you go. Probably way more than you wanted to know but what
the hea, you asked.
My advise would be to start with sqlite and get comfortable with how
RoR works in your box. I don't know anything about your general level
of comfort / experience so, obviously, you do what feels right.
Honestly, the only limit I've found with sqlite is I haven't yet
puzzled out how to look at the tables - like with one of the dbadmin
By the way, what are you using for an editor? And do you have a unix-
like interface available?