I'm pretty certain it will be a fresh install given that you can't patch XE.
I'm looking to build a new test server for practising at home, however, I'm not sure whether to build now with 11gXE or wait until October (or later !), so my question is, will there be an upgrade option from 11g XE to 18c XE, or will it require a fresh install (export & import of schemas etc) ? I can then work out whether to build now or wait.
If that is truly how you are going to use the database, then you can download any of the Oracle databases, including SE, EE 18.3 for linux, 12.2 for windows as of now. (windows 18.3 not yet available as of writing).
See the OTN license at the top of the download page that you have to agree to to download Oracle Software:
Oracle Database Software Downloads
You must accept the OTN License Agreement to download this software.
Accept License Agreement | Decline License Agreement
or directly here:
Would strongly suggest the "try it out now" approach to learn DDL (definition language) (create table|index|function|...), sequences, triggers to do the equivalent of an MSSQL identity column, etc. Could be a while before 18c XE goes GA (General Availability).
Get some practise managing an instance, that's the intent behind XE. The lack of patching makes an XE install a less than optimal choice for app(s) opened to general public access, although the lack of several EE or SE features does not rule it out as a decent learning platform. Get familiar with archivelog mode, hot, cold, RMAN and user-managed backups, and try a restore (or several, practise makes one closer to perfect) and PIT (Point In Time) recovery. Many questions needing experience to answer capably, and patience- it will take a good stretch of time to go from Jr. DBA to professional level- perhaps a year, or more.
Having had several Former Esteemed Colleagues with experience starting out on MSSQL or one of the many other RDBMS engines, learning Oracle forces one to get a deeper understanding of the inner workings of an RDBMS. No disparagement intended here, but have seen folks that started on MSSQL struggle when faced with a move to Oracle. And some of the EE features eg. flashback can be quite handy in an urgent restore scenario, not something to start looking into when its badly needed- it can shave a significant chunk of time from a hard|unplanned downtime window.
For an upgrade to 18c, many ways to handle that. For a 20GiB or smaller instance, I'd suggest a datapump export of the schema(s), shutdown, install 18c with its new empty instance and datapump import the 11g dump file. And try several datapump schema export(s)|import(s) while waiting for 18c XE to become available. Datapump docs are in the Utilities book at https://docs.oracle.com/cd/E11882_01/nav/portal_booklist.htm
Thanks for the updates / suggestions -
I should have given a little more info - I used to be a developer / DBA / Solution Architect in the Oracle area for 15 years, however, over the past 5 years or so, I have been geared more around the Enterprise Architecture aspects, so my "hands-on" is getting rusty. As I still work on a number of Oracle projects (Through paid for work), I like to have a copy of XE on my laptop, so that I can check out / help resolve technical issues without having to use the clients systems (Means I can also work/investigate from home when away from the client's site) hence the reason for using XE - I don't want to fall foul of any licensing issues !
I know that I could download full versions, and I have done that many times in the past to practice installation / patching etc.
The home setup is more of a project, as I have an application that I wrote many (many !) years ago in Access (it served it's purpose, and is still used on a daily basis ) and I want to convert that into an APEX app, so that I learn and keeps hands-on - again, through what I envisage my final usage of this setup (Assuming I succeed !), it would mean that I invalidate the terms of the full download as, at that point, the usage would transfer from being training to (Very small term) commercial.
It will probably take you a couple of months to create the APEX version of your app, and by then XE should be available, so you may start the development on an full version downloaded from the old OTN site and then switch to XE when ready for production...