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Interview with Josh Berkus of PostgreSQL 41

Posted by timothy
from the that-bird-is-certainly-peeved dept.
SilentBob4 writes "The PostgreSQL database project has recently released Version 8.0, which was received with quite some fanfare, mostly due to its first-ever Windows port. Mad Penguin talked with Josh Berkus, one of the core team members, to find out how 8.0 has fared since its official release on January 17, 2005. Full interview."
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Interview with Josh Berkus of PostgreSQL

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  • by Gopal.V (532678) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @01:05AM (#11950720) Homepage Journal
    Being an Indian and all that, I'm very much concerned about unicode sorting/collation kind of thing. Postgres has the best unicode support I've ever seen.

    Ever since I started using transactions in pgsql, I haven't looked back to mysql land. All I now need is the Postgres-R (replication) stuff to work out of the box (like it does for mysql). I don't know if transaction speeds might be hit by replication or not.

    Also great win32 installer - thank god the pgsql jdbc components aren't GPL. (it's a thin edge of the wedge to get it used for in house projects).
    • by rtaylor (70602) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @01:26AM (#11950809) Homepage
      All I now need is the Postgres-R (replication) stuff to work out of the box (like it does for mysql).

      Look into Slony. It's an addon project, but replication for PostgreSQL will always be an addon so that it works across multiple backend versions.

      It's fairly straight forward to setup a master/slave scenario, and PgAdmin is currently working on GUI tools for managing it.
    • All I now need is the Postgres-R (replication) stuff to work out of the box (like it does for mysql).

      Don't bother with Postgres-R -- use Slony. It works fantastically well.
    • > thank god the pgsql jdbc components aren't GPL.
      > (it's a thin edge of the wedge to get it used for
      > in house projects)

      Please read the GPL.

      In house projects are NOT considered as redistribution of the code, so you can keep your changes for yourself.
      • Doesn't matter, the perception is that GPL is limiting redistribution (which it is, even if you are right). If you want choice in the matter (and most companies do), the GPL is not for you. Example, you have a bunch of propietary extensions to some GPL project and you are using it internally (so far so good you say). Then some partner company asks for permission to use your tool. You don't say no to friends so you want to give the software to them. Price is not the issue but opening up the proprietary stuff
        • Doesn't matter, the perception is that GPL is limiting redistribution (which it is, even if you are right). If you want choice in the matter (and most companies do), the GPL is not for you. Example, you have a bunch of propietary extensions to some GPL project and you are using it internally (so far so good you say). Then some partner company asks for permission to use your tool. You don't say no to friends so you want to give the software to them. Price is not the issue but opening up the proprietary st

          • The GPL doesn't deny anyone "choice". ... The GPL places conditions on distribution so that nobody can exert power to restrict what receipients can do with the software down the line.

            You do realize that these are contradictory statements, don't you?
            • Not if read in the context of the thread -- one cannot have all possible freedoms and powers because some conflict (paraphrasing the FSF's example: my freedom to walk down the street in safety versus your power to drive your car anywhere you wish). So, societies have to decide which are worth more and in what context. The FSF decided that the freedoms of free software are so important that they wanted to preserve them for all recipients of a GPL-covered program and any derivative of that program. When so
    • If it's in-house, can't you use GPLed software for whatever you want? So long as you don't try to redistribute the in-house software(gratis or for payment) without the sourcecode, why would the GPL make any difference?
  • by poopdeville (841677) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @02:04AM (#11950982)
    From TFA: I think that the thing that lots of open source projects have learned, and that those that haven't should learn, is the simple fact that millions of people use Windows, and millions of people use only Windows. If you don't have a port to that platform, you have denied them access to your project.

    I think this is interesting. Now, I'm no PostgreSQL cheerleader, but they're certainly one of the top open source projects going around. It seems to me that if the PostgreSQL team had leveraged their position and spent more time developing for open operating systems, businesses would be given the incentive to switch. Instead, they've chosen to accomodate the enterprise windows crowd. Of course, this will be great for their marketshare. But it just seems like a missed opportunity given the bigger picture.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      But they have nowhere else to go. The unwashed masses are using MySQL everywhere for running millions of blogs and messageboards. The average Linux user clings to MySQL like Windows users cling to Microsoft Office - unwilling and unable to take a second glance at anything else.

      PostGres coming to Windows is good - because trying a new application is easier than trying a whole new operating system. Once someone knows what your app is, there's going to be far less resistance to trying it out on another OS. Th
      • Any mysql junkies out there should give PostgreSQL a try! Write a few functions and see how nice it is to make your db code modular, something mysql unfortunately cannot do in its current stable release.
    • by ctr2sprt (574731)
      Let's do unto others, here. Most Slashdotters prefer open source operating systems, but a lot of us are forced to use Windows because we need some program that only runs there. So we all beg developers to release Linux versions of popular programs and dream of a day when one app runs on all operating systems.

      Since we know the pain of being forced to use an OS we dislike, let's try to be the Better Man here. If the tables someday turn, let's continue to encourage that apps get ported to every OS under t

    • by cakoose (460295) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @04:47AM (#11951467) Homepage
      It seems to me that if the PostgreSQL team had leveraged their position and spent more time developing for open operating systems, businesses would be given the incentive to switch. Instead, they've chosen to accomodate the enterprise windows crowd.

      This argument made its rounds a while ago. I think it was when a prominent KDE developer write about how it was a bad idea to port applications to Windows. The counter argument is that they're letting people switch to open source software a little bit at a time (which is easier). Once people are comfortable with using cross-platform applications exclusively, the Windows platform no longer has an unfair advantage. At that point, different operating systems can be judged on their own merits, instead of simply on the availability of application software.

    • Of course, this will be great for their marketshare. But it just seems like a missed opportunity given the bigger picture.

      But let's not worry; it's too late now. It'll always be too late. Fortunately!

      (If you don't get it, don't mod)
  • Fatal Flaws (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Red Pointy Tail (127601) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @02:10AM (#11951008)
    There are fatal flaws in this version of 8.0 that makes it practically unusable in Win32 for me.

    Firstly, the broken Unicode support, which arose because certain collation functions doesn't work well on UTF-8 (PostGre uses UTF-8, Win32 prefers UCS-2). The tone you get from reading the bug/support forums are disdainful, pointing the problem to Win32 libraries and suggesting that it should not be in the confines of the PostGres team to fix Windows bugs. Nevertheless, if they already put so much effort to porting to Win32, it seems strange that they are adopting such a stance instead of proactively trying to fix that problem.

    Secondly, there is no support for the Win1252 code page, which is very commonly used in English Windows, while mind-bogglingly, there seem to be all other code-pages from Cyrillic to Arabic. This makes migration of data from SQL Server very difficult, and using Latin-1 doesn't help when it encounters characters like `. Yes, Windows should be whacked on the bottom for introducing such shitty incompatibilities but that doesn't solve the problem. The other solution to this problem - to convert to UTF-8 instead - is unavailable because of first problem.

    I have been trying to persuade my company to shift from SQL Server to PostGreSQL on Windows (for some reasons, we cannot move over to Linux yet). But after hitting these brick walls - I've giving up. Here's to hoping!
  • First Windows port? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @02:28AM (#11951082)

    mostly due to its first-ever Windows port.

    No, PostgreSQL has been working on Windows for years. This was just the first version where Windows was an officially supported platform.

    • Actually, PostgreSQL has always been officially available for Windows, but before V8.0 it runs under Cygwin, so performance sucks. Version 8.0 is re-written (I assume, with an OS abstraction) so that on it calls Win32 directly instead of through Cygwin.

      Whether the former constitutes a 'Windows port' or not is semantics.
    • It sure feels like a first port...

      I consider myself to a competent developer with some SQL skills and bit of DBA knowledge albeit mainly in MSSQLServer.

      The PostgreSQL 8.0 for windows installation process was very difficult and ultimately unsuccessful. Anyone who uses the Win platform for development will reject PostgreSQL like I did due to difficult getting it up an running.

      I am looking forward to PostgreSQL maturing relative to the windows port. Let's hope the team feels the same way!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @08:28AM (#11952060)
    I would like to use this opportunity to say this: Kudos to Josh Berkus and the entire PostgreSQL team! I hope you are reading this. You have done an absolutely amazing job with your database. It is the only Free Software RDBMS that I believe can be compared with Oracle. This is hardly the first Free Software RDBMS I used but it is the first one that actually works as it should, respecting standards and relational model with full ACID support (*cough*cough* [sql-info.de]). This is also the fastest Free Software database when you are doing any serious inserts/updates-heavy transactions on large data sets with consistency being the top priority. Kudos! You guys rule! I believe that your project should be a de facto standard in Free Software world. Keep up the good work.
  • by WebHostingGuy (825421) on Wednesday March 16, 2005 @02:03PM (#11955333) Homepage Journal
    I have seen that there seems to be a buzz around Postgresql over the last few months. More and more people are requesting Postgresql in web hosting. It seems that this is not a substitution for MS SQL but people are migrating from MySQL to Postgresql for one reason or another. Granted this is just one perspective from a web host and not scientifically significant.
    • Perhaps most interesting (esp in comparison to MySQL) is the number of large scale datawarehouse startups embracing Pg (Netezza [netezza.com], Metapa [metapa.com], among others). While they may have a way to go to play with the big boys, the fact they chose Pg should be of interest to any IT dept. making a decision about which OSS DBMS to commit to.

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