Today he heads an international group helping to keep its community growing. He also is a key architect for a commercial database company that supports his advisory group and the Postgres open source community. Linux distributions typically have PostgreSQL available in supplied packages. He is not the inventor of the open source database, but he stepped into a leading role in developing the project when it was close to being abandoned some 18 years ago. He did not start out as a computer programmer, but his strong interest in what makes databases work gave him a hands-on desire to fix what he saw broken. Two-Hat ExperienceMomjian wears two different hats in performing his job supporting database software development.
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It looks like Postgreee plus something at the end, it does confuse people. I really do apologize for that :- CL: You are the vice president of Great Bridge, now would you call yourself a developer? BM: My job with Great Bridge involves several things.
That means encouraging developers, helping to keep the group together, sort of holding the group. The second part of my job is to help steer Great Bridge as I have Postgres. That means helping them understand Postgres community, helping them work with the open source community.
One part is the open source part, the second part is trying to help the company to develop in a way that we think is best. CL: How many hours do you actually write code a day? Additionally, I do coding when something needs fixing. In fact, just as the book finished in early October of , I was employed by Great Bridge, and Great Bridge is just starting now, so I have to give them the attention to get them started and make sure they are on the right track.
CL: Do you have enough time to play with your children? So I was home all the time in my previous job as a database software developer. So my family is happy that this new job is not taking me away from being there. BM: We are already ready, but we know that we can do even more to make it better. We have people writing shopping carts software that uses our transactional model.
The features we have make it very natural, useful, for all steady places where databases would be used. We believe that we need the ability to recover from a hard disk crash with the log file that we are working on for 7. We know that replication is something that a lot of people are looking for. So we are continuing to target the areas that we think makes us even more attractive to e-business sites. We are focusing on that. What happened to PostgreSQL in regard to the speed improvement?
BM: We have been working on improving performance since we started, well, since we took the code from Berkeley. I was one of the first that kind of started running tests to see why it took so long to start a new connection, or why some clauses were taking a long time.
There has not been a real push for performance, but what we have had are people who have been used to analyzing performance in different ways. All look at the code, and all add the things that they felt would improve performance.
For example, several years ago, I, over period of probably two weeks, went through the code and inlined some of the function calls that was called ten thousand times, or something like that. I made a macro out of it, and I got six percent speed improvement. Fork was enough and we got rid of exec. All of the sudden, we got a small speed improvement there. We did little things along the way. Performance tuning, or performance analysis, is really a complex thing. Certain people look for certain things in performance, and other people look for different things.
I changed the way that cache looked up system table information, and Tom Lane added some changes to memory management or some other changes To extend that, when I first saw the charts of performance us against all the other databases, they showed it to me in California I was talking with somebody, and I was looking at the chart. I was looking at the one on the bottom. There was something about it, so I was saying "I wonder why this looks this way," and so forth.
Someone looked at it and said "Well, this looks pretty good. The two are separate, but they are not that far apart. The line at the top, the better database is Postgres!! And it turned out as a shock, that we were the one that was better, Oracle was the one that was worse. We have received anecdotal information from people saying that Postgres was faster than Excel, but I believe it was not until we saw a systematic test of a really nationally recognized benchmark like AS3AP, that we really started to say "Wow, there really must be something!
A lot of us, myself included, spent years developing commercial proprietary software. The reason it was proprietary was because it was made for the limited market. You did custom software. Somebody called you and said "Can you add this program for me? When you make a shoe, you cut the size of a foot, and make the shoe fit the foot. Obviously, with the piece of software like databases which has much larger market and which is more useful to a large number of people, there are issues of "Should we allow people to take Postgres and distribute it to customers and not give them any of the source code?
We just want to see that our software is used. We believe that our softwares are good enough that nobody is ever going to want to do that. We are increasing at such a dramatic rate, so even if somebody took the code and added some features to it and tried to close it off, proprietary, and distributed it I laugh sometimes that people are running very old versions of Postgres, and they are complaining as if we had some kind of problems.
We, most of our developers are quite happy with the license we have. In effect, there is another practical stand point. Because our database is extensible, in other words, people can extend our database by adding new types, new functions and so forth, there could be a case where customers would want to take Postgres 7.
They may spend a large amount of time developing, adding software on top of that. If they want to do that, they want to ship their product with Postgres. Go ahead, just use the software. We are confident that eventually, that software will probably become integrated into our code because somebody will get tired of having it maintained. Do you have such a plan? BM: Great Bridge is a strong believer in open source. They have stated very clearly that they would never develop proprietary software or closed software.
Everything that they do, all the code that they do will be open source. Great Bridge is not interested in generating revenue from software. They wish to generate the revenue from support. We believe that we are going to be successful because we are open source. Trying to do closed sourcing anything with Postgres would not be counted as the way we think we are going to succeed. BSD license allows this to happen. But we honestly believe that if somebody goes proprietary with the product, then eventually they will see the light and will open source their software.
So, instead of using the GPL and requiring them to go through all the effort of understanding the GPL and require that before they do anything, we say "Fine, go ahead, go try and do it," because all the software manufacturers at this point are moving toward open source model and we do not fear somehow a company is going to come along and do the proprietary version. Is Great Bridge going to walk on the same road as Red Hat?
It had a tremendous number of limitations. So when Frank talked to his investment group in Landmark Communications that dealt with investments and creating new businesses, his statement was "Go find another circumstance where there is open source software which shows the same kind of promise. They looked at our curve, at the rate which we were improving. If you look at the benchmarks, we are already superior in a number of ways. So we have people who are moving from Oracle to Postgres now.
We get people regularly who are porting their applications to Postgres from other commercial databases. And they are certainly hopeful, so I think a few years down the road, that Postgres will be looking real good. We need to get our support offering started, that will happen very soon when we offer commercial support. And we really need to develop reputation in the industry for superior support of customers.
We believe that the other commercial database vendors have done a fairly poor job of supporting their existing customers. We expect to be able to do that. CL: Do you see any changes in the Postgres community because the business world has been joining it? Postgres has never had that. We have kept the same people involved with Postgres for years. Those developers have been involved in Postgres for at least two years.
As far as the actual problems of companies becoming involved, I would say that the core group of six Postgres members are tremendously concerned. When I was approached to write my book, I had about six publishers contacted me to write a book. Prima, MacMillan, Addison Wesley, and a few others. I chose Addison Wesley for, I believe, good reasons. But I realized that if I had this many people interested in publishing Postgres book, then the introduction of companies involved in Postgres was very soon, it was only a matter of time till companies started getting involved in Postgres.
I sent out a message on Christmas day of , basically stating that I felt that something was going to happen soon. Well, it turned out to be that Great Bridge was really watching this. And Great Bridge eventually did announce just to the core group to get a feeling directly from us. We basically talked as a group about how we could maintain the integrity, the focus, and the open source nature of Postgres, even if other companies were involved.
I realized that there was a tremendous risk having other companies but my statement to the core group was "Well, we have two choices here. Which do we want to do? So we basically came to a conclusion that companies were going to be involved because of our success, but we needed to be deliberate and careful about how these companies were involved, and we needed to maintain the open source nature of the project.
So for example, one of the first things we decided was that no more than a few of the core developers could be hired by one company.
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In , the leader of the Ingres team, Michael Stonebraker , left Berkeley to make a proprietary version of Ingres. He won the Turing Award in for these and other projects,  and techniques pioneered in them. The team released version 1 to a small number of users in June , followed by version 2 with a re-written rules system in June Version 3, released in , again re-wrote the rules system, and added support for multiple storage managers  and an improved query engine. By , the number of users began to overwhelm the project with requests for support and features. After releasing version 4. Yu and Chen announced the first version 0.
PostgreSQL: Introduction and Concepts
It looks like Postgreee plus something at the end, it does confuse people. I really do apologize for that :- CL: You are the vice president of Great Bridge, now would you call yourself a developer? BM: My job with Great Bridge involves several things. That means encouraging developers, helping to keep the group together, sort of holding the group. The second part of my job is to help steer Great Bridge as I have Postgres.
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