Current versions of eXist are available at the project's Web page (http://exist-db.org). The software is distributed either as a zip or tar file and runs with Java Development Kit version 1.3 or 1.4. All required Java libraries, Apache's Jakarta Web server, and Cocoon are included in the distribution. Hardware requirements are low: Any machine with at least 64MB of main memory is sufficient.
Details on the installation of eXist are provided in the documentation. For the native storage backend, the installation process is fairly simple and limited to unpacking the distribution and starting either the standalone server or the included Web server. To access the features discussed below, it is recommended that you use eXist with the Web server. Once the server has been started, it will provide XML-RPC, SOAP, and WebDAV interfaces to communicate with the database engine. You may also browse through the Cocoon-based project pages, which are available at http://localhost:8080/exist/index.xml. There you will find a query interface to send queries to the server and a simple administration tool used to add or view XML documents, create or remove collections, and so on.
The database engine will create all required files the first time it is accessed. The documentation also describes how to put XML files into the database. To try out the XPath expressions given as examples later in this chapter, you may use the simple Web-based query-interface. An online version is also available at eXist's home page.
However, there is no preferred way to work with eXist. Several command-line clients are included in the distribution. They serve as examples for client-side programming and use different APIs and programming languages to access eXist.