[GENERAL] Linux Journal Announces Winners of 2003 Editors' Choice Awards
The Linux Journal
Winners of the 2003 Editors Choice awards.
Of course, the best database is PostgreSQL.
snpe snpe at snpe.co.yu,
elein at varlena.com
Opinions from O'Reilly's Open Source Conference
Our Birds of A Feather Session on Wednesday evening was
the first time I got to see all of the PostgreSQL folks
all together at the same time. In spite of not setting
up the meeting before the conference about thirty people
attended and the discussion was lively. Someone else
will have to tell the tale of the late night dinners.
The particular feedback that hit home to me (others' lists may
vary) was our lack of organized marketing, lack of visibility,
and the chaotic nature of our websites. None of these complaints were a surprise to anyone.
The advocacy group has made some significant decisions with
regards to rectifying these items.
Perhaps not everyone knows that three items have happened
recently to further our marketing efforts. First, Josh Berkus
was drafted into the Core Development Group. Josh's strength
is in organization and marketing (and performance as you saw
in the previous issue). Under Josh's watch,
efforts to fund a marketing have begun. Marc Fournier has also announced
that part of the proceeds from banner ad on the postgresql.org web
pages will be contributed to the advocacy funds. We are also planning
on having a booth, a presence, at Comdex. In addition to
these items, volunteers are working on brochures, CD covers, etc. so
that we have some marketing collateral. It is good to know we
are on the right track.
Another part of the discussion at the birds of a feather session
was the native PC port which is delayed until after the release
of 7.4. Discussion about why the port is and is not important,
particularly in light of marketing and visibility issues, were both
given fair air time.
PostgreSQL people were not particularly visible in the general
milieu of the conference. We were there, but not seen too much.
Several of the talks in the conference and discussions in our birds of a
feather session pointed out that open source projects need to establish
relationships with other open source organizations. I know
that some of us are members of more than one open source group,
but for the most part, we remain fairly isolated. Talk to
each other. Reason things out. This is open source so steal
ideas that work! For example, we need to have more visible,
vocal and active user groups across the world, including the
United States. And perl-mongers is quite successful. What
advice can we get from them?
The establishment of relationships between people and groups
was raised in many different contexts at the conference. PostgreSQL,
the database, particularly plays well with others. Is there
something in this that we can use to promote our favorite database?
One mistake that was made at least once was to bad mouth the
perceived competition. Venting one's frustration is one thing,
but, particularly with our minimal visibility, we must make
a good impression. Besides, everyone knows we are technically
more mature and can beat the pants off any perceived competitor.
So there is no need to bully them. I am sure I have been guilty
of this, too. But restraint of tongue and pen (or keyboard) is
what shows strength. Ms. Manners Rules!
For us, I believe, the point is just good technology. The highest
complement paid to any software or hardware is It just works!
Databases are complex programs to solve the complex problems of
managed data storage and retrieval. And PostgreSQL is rich with
features to deal with the complexities of the problem set.
We cannot pretend to be simple.
But PostgreSQL has additional maturity, stability and conformance
to standards, so I believe this goal is within our grasp:
It just works!
Other attendees: If you have comments about the conference
send them to email@example.com
and they will be added to these.
Discussion of the items raised here is appropriate to the
PostgreSQL Advocacy Mailing list.
elein at varlena.com
Opinions from O'Reill
Opinions from O'Reilly's Open Source Conference
Comments from other attendees
Joe Conway writes:
I have no facts or figures to back this up, but it "felt" to me like the
PostgreSQL community was less visible (in terms of numbers of
presentations) and less attended than last year. The presentations and
tutorials delivered were very good, but there just weren't enough of them.
Joe's presentation at the conference was
PostgreSQL - embedded Statistical Analysis with PL/R
I would have like to have seen PostgreSQL tutorials on both Monday and
Tuesday (instead of just Monday), and Postgres presentations on all
three days of sessions (instead of just Thursday).
I think part of the problem was that Bruce got very late notice from
O'Reilly regarding submissions this year. Next year we should get the
word out far and wide and early so that we get more people stepping up
to speak. We should also make a concerted effort to get PostgreSQL on
Greg Sabino Mullane writes:
Here are my quick* notes about OSCON from a PostgreSQL perspective.
Greg Sabino Mullane's Tutorial,
Efficient SQL / Mastering SQL is now available.
* You should see my long notes. :)
It was great finally getting to meet so many of them names I have only
seen on the Internet (mostly the mailing lists) and get to interact with
people. Sometimes we even managed to talk about non-Pg/non-technical
things. But not very often. :)
The Postgres presentations were all very good. I went to some of the MySQL
presentations, and they were not that good. Maybe they should spend
some of that $19 million on public speaking classes. I particularly
enjoyed Tom Lane's talk, as that one was the closest to mine -
SQL tuning - and gave a nice glimpse into the changes for 7.4. Very
impressive stuff. Even Marty from MySQL was at that talk, asking
questions. I am constantly amazed at some of the smart things Postgres
does behind the scenes.
Someone made the argument that we don't need to focus on the Win32 port
right now, as the Microsoft share of the market is declining. This
seemed to be the minority view, especially in light of the fact that
we are very close to being done. My own take on this is that we are the
only database that I can think of that does *not* have a native Win32
port. If it is good enough for Oracle...
Someone else mentioned that they would often go to sourceforge while
looking for a project to help them out and would end up converting
the app to Postgres, as most of them are only for MySQL. Although
this was a side comment to something else, it got me to thinking:
why not have another part of Postgres that would coordinate converting
all the apps in the world to run with PostgreSQL? I envision a page
where people could add projects that need to be converted to a list.
Other people could do the actual converting, perhaps with a final checkoff
by a reviewer, and the project could be marked as "done." We would not
only automatically generate a list of applications that run PostgreSQL, but
would have another list that would show the status of other apps. Outside
users could even request to have a particular app ported. I see this as
being a very important part of the PostgreSQL project, similar in importance
to the web, source, and advocacy projects. When I get some time, I'll probably
start a prototype.
Another thing mentioned was the lack of visibility at OSCON. Although we had
some very good, high-quality presentations, I feel that our visibility was
absolutely terrible at OSCON. We were off hiding in a corner while MySQL
was out there shouting "Here I am!". From the t-shirt given to each participant
(MySQL, *not* O'Reilly like in previous years) to Tim O'Reilly's reinforcement
of the terrible LAMP acronym in his keynote, to the lack of any mention of
Postgres in the "hallway" or when discussing other projects, Postgres just
seemed to be off the radar. Our only redeeming feature was that we had our
own track. Even with that, we should have had more presentations. I have
some ideas for next year's, and I think we need to hit the conference early
and hard with submissions. I especially would like to see presentations that
tie Postgres into other projects and/or applications. I would also like to
see more that target the "unknown" user - people who have heard of Postgres,
but are new to it or are still evaluating it. Sometimes I feel we preach to
the choir at the expense of new converts.
A radical idea about reorganizing underneath the Apache project was bravely
tossed out to the group. I don't think that would ever happen (but spent some
time debating the idea with the originator the next day), but something
like that is certainly needed as far as consolidating the PostgreSQL project
into a single legal entity that can do things like receive funds, send people
to conferences, publish materials, coordinate contacts, etc. Almost a
combination of the core group and the advocacy group. Apache has an interesting
model: a "core" business (actually a foundation, which may be the best for
Postgres), and a bunch of "interest groups" that handle one project. In our case,
I could easily see a main foundation that includes a technical group (source code),
an advocacy group, a web site group (also FTP/DNS/etc), and an application group
(as mentioned above, whose goal is to port other projects). I have more ideas about
all of this, but in the interest of space, I shall move on.
Someone threw out the ol' "let's ignore MySQL, and focus on DB2" argument.
(Feel free to replace "DB2" with "Microsoft SQL Server" or "Oracle" of course).
I think this is a big mistake. As I pointed out to the group, we need to
be concerned with /all/ the other players, not just the large commercial ones.
Someone else (sorry, do not know who) pointed out that while MySQL might have
been a "toy" 18 months ago, they are not now, and are moving forward at a
significant speed. I was fairly surprised to hear the "ignore MySQL" argument at
an open-source conference of all places. Winning the mindshare of the open-source
community should be one of our highest goals. And right now, MySQL has that
mindshare firmly in their hands. Underestimating the importance of that mindshare,
and underestimating MySQL, are two things that the Postgres project cannot
afford to do. Most people at the BOF seemed to agree that MySQL is still a
As mentioned before, the importance and timing of future features was mentioned.
Things on the radar include replication, point-in-time recovery (PITR), two-phase
commit (2PC), nested transaction, and the Win32 port. Some things (replication)
are much closer than others (nested transactions). All of them are needed, but
after the BOF I was starting to wonder: what now? What's the next Big Thing after
we get those five done? (Using "we" in the "I ain't written a single line of
code to help any of those five out" of course! :) I am sure that replication will
still be a monster, as there are many ways to do it and it can can very complex.
Still, it will soon be one less thing the MySQL folks can beat us up about once
we have a working, built-in solution.
We also talked about the problem of getting companies to state that they are
using Postgres. It's a chicken-and-egg problem: nobody will admit that
they are using Postgres until lots of other companies are publicly
admitting that they are using Postgres. Major thanks to Andrew Sullivan
for starting that egg rolling by extracting enough information from other
companies to enable him to fight hard to get Postgres as the backend
for the .info and .org domains. Someone else (again, cannot remember many
names) suggested that we should be recording all companies that use Postgres,
even if they are not large. Someone else asked about the case studies: as far
as anyone knows, we have bunch, but they are not on the website yet.
There is lot more to say, but overall it was a great experience, not just from
a PostgreSQL perspective, but from a general technical one as well. Postgres
has a very strong community, but it needs some visibility and legitimacy.
I've got some great t-shirts idea for next year...
A late entry, David Fetter Writes:
The "LAMP" concept is a serious obstacle to PostgreSQL adoption and
development. This requires a substantial marketing effort. How big
is MySQL's purse? To what extent is O'Reilly politically committed to it?
David's presentation at OSCON was how Projects Fail.
Joe Conway mail at joeconway.com
Greg Sabino Mullane greg at turnstep.com
David Fetter dave at fetter.org
I realized that what PostgreSQL really needs is an aggressive
and well-funded marketing effort.
I've found that it is unproductive to pretend that a debate is happening
when the other side is not engaging in a debate.
...[other projects] have been consistently engaging in deception,
misinformation and outright lies... To miss that point, publicly
or privately, is to lose the fight.
Running Aggregates in PostgreSQL with plpython
Talk from O'Reilly Open Source Conference, July 2003
As promised, here is the talk that I gave at OSCON. There are three parts,
the script notes, the slides and the source code for the examples.
Talk on Running Aggregates using PostgreSQL and plpython.
© A. Elein Mustain 2003
Presented July 2003 at O'Reilly Open Source Conference, Portland, OR
- Source Code
Caveat: These are my notes on this talk. They are not necessarily complete
nor are they a definitive record of any live talk, real or imagined.
Modifications to content of the original script based on new information are noted in italics.
As always, comments and questions are welcome.
elein at varlena.com