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June 16, 2011

Brenda Butler
» Which PostgreSQL daemon does psql talk to?

The ways that psql can be configured to connect to a different port:

  1. compiled in default
  2. PGPORT environment variable
  3. —port or -p option
  4. .pgpass setting

If you are running more than one version of PostgreSQL, you might wonder which one the psql client will talk to by default.

(DJANGO-1-3)bjb@spidy:~$ bash
bjb@spidy:~$ echo $PGPORT

bjb@spidy:~$ unset PGPORT
bjb@spidy:~$ ls -la ~/.pgpass
-rw------- 1 bjb bjb 0 May 20 17:33 /home/bjb/.pgpass
bjb@spidy:~$ locate psql | egrep bin
bjb@spidy:~$ /usr/lib/postgresql/8.4/bin/psql template1
psql (8.4.8)
Type "help" for help.

template1=> \echo :PORT
template1=> \q
bjb@spidy:~$ exit

Voila. The psql in /usr/bin is a perl script wrapper for the real psql. To find the “compiled-in” default port number, you can run the real psql without the command-line arg to change the port number, --port 5555 or -p 5555, and you also need to unset PGPORT (if it’s set). I have a .pgpass, but it’s empty so I didn’t have to do anything special for that. If you have a non-empty .pgpass, you might copy it aside before running psql if you want to try this test. Don’t forget to put it back when you’re done.

On my work machine, I had two versions of PostgreSQL running: 8.4 and 8.3. 8.3 was listening on 5432 and 8.4 was listening on 5433. psql was configured to go to port 5432 by default (and therefore PostgreSQL 8.3).

June 25, 2009

» Scalable Internet Architectures

My old friend and collaborator Theo Schlossnagle at OmniTI posted his slides from his Scalable Internet Architectures talk at VelocityConf 2009.

The slides are brilliant even without seeing Theo talk and I highly recommend the time it takes to flip through them, for anyone who is interested in systems performance. If anyone took an mp3 of this talk I’m dying to hear it, please let me know.

For those of you unfamiliar with OmniTI, Theo is the CEO of this rather remarkable company specializing in Internet-scale architecture consulting. They generalize on Internet-scale architecture, not on one specific dimension the way Pythian specializes on the database tier. This allows them to see Internet-scale workloads from a unique systemic, multidisciplinary point of view; from the user experience all the way up the stack, through the load balancer (or not), the front-end cache, the application server, the database server, the operating system, the storage, and so on. This approach lets them build Internet architectures and solve scalability problems in a unique and powerful, wholistic way.

Pythian first collaborated with OmniTI in 2001, and they deserve all of their success and profile that they’ve built since then. Trivia: both Pythian and OmniTI were founded in September 1997 and both companies continue to be majority-owned and controlled by founders (in Pythian’s case, yours truly).

Here’s the slide deck. Let me know your thoughts.

March 17, 2009

» How to Have a Good Presentation

In about 15 minutes, Giuseppe Maxia will begin a webinar in which the main focus is a presentation on “How to have a good presentation”. Talk about meta!

Giuseppe posted how to join the free webinar.

The slides can be found at

December 19, 2008

» Log Buffer #128: a Carnival of the Vanities for DBAs

Welcome to the 128th edition of Log Buffer, the weekly review of database blogs.

Let’s begin with some PostgreSQL blogs. Jignesh Shah shares his recipe for making a PostgreSQL 8.3 appliance based on OpenSolaris using VirtualBox. While we’re on appliances, Dave Page shows off PostgreSQL management on the iPhone with an application he himself wrote. Stealth DBA for the bus-rise home.

On Database Soup, Josh Berkus has been finding useless indexes. He begins, “I’d say, in general, that you can’t have really well-chosen indexes without the help of a performance expert. However, anyone can improve their use of indexes in PostgreSQL fairly easily using a few system tools … and a little improvement is all that a lot of users need.” And it’s what Josh offers.

Sometimes a DBA is asked to make something real purty-like, contrary to his or her nature though that may be. On the Postgres OnLine Journal, Leo Hsu and Regina Obe offer some help with the first of a series on Fusion charts and PostgreSQL. (”Fusion Charts . . . is a flash-based charting product that makes beautiful flash charts.”)

And now—hey what’s MySQL maven Baron Schwartz doing with a Postgres post on xaprb? He’s asking, what are your favorite PostgreSQL performance resources?

Maybe he’s considering crossing the floor out of weariness with all the contention in the MySQL world? Can’t say I blame him. Lately, the conversation in the MySQL ’sphere has been dominated by non-technical talk of the pluses and minuses of 5.1, of forking, community vs. enterprise, and so on. This week was no exception.

The week began with Jay Pipes’s advice to MySQL: “Drop the current roadmap . . . Forget Windows for now . . . Clean up the abysmal messiness of the code base . . .” It’s strong stuff and worth a read.

Lukas Kahwe Smith followed with his advice to the database division at Sun, purveyor or patron now of MySQL, Drizzle, and PostgreSQL.

Jeremy Zawodny surveyed this new MySQL landscape, full as it now is of patches, forks, and Drizzle, and liked what he saw.

Speaking of which, the MySQL Performance Blog announced the Percona XtraDB Storage Engine: a drop-in replacement for standard InnoDB.

Ronald Bradford got some unexpected results while looking into the size of memory tables. Can you help Ronald out?

On High Availability MySQL, Mark Callaghan showed us how to make MySQL faster in one hour. Nice stuff. And real purty charts, too.

Let’s see what happened in SQL Server now. Kalen Delany opined that there is no such thing as a SQL Server, and she’s not the only one with an opinion on this (one would think) straight-forward matter.

Lichi Shea asserted that there is a limit to set-based solutions: “After all, some procedural solutions are not so bad!  . . .  Now, it’s time for me to dodge the set-based solution crowd.”

Lots of thoughtful comment on that one, and a blog response from Ward Pond, who says that Linchi Shea makes an interesting point about hints, vis-a-vis the set-based and procedural paradigms.

The Data Management Journal looked into extracting numbers with SQL Server: “We all have perfectly normalized tables, with perfectly scrubbed data, right? I wish! Sometimes we are stuck with dirty data in legacy applications. What’s worse is that we are sometimes expected to do interesting things with dirty data. In this blog, I will show you how to extract a number from a varchar column that contains letters and numbers.”

TJay Belt published his reflection, Cloud Computing and me. Like many DBAs, TJay has some thoughts on how the advent of “The Cloud” is going to affect databases and database administration.

Moving into things Oracle, Chen Shapira was thinking about a musical analogy for the DBA. Their not “rockstar programmers” or “jazz programmers”, says Chen. But I won’t give away her conclusion—click on.

Chet Justice, the Oracle Nerd, was pursuing ontology too in the second part of his Application Developers vs. Database Developers. (I wonder if it’s generally true that apps developers have such terrible manners.)

Gary Myers responded, “Oraclenerd has opened that can of worms about OO, ORMs and Databases,” in his item, The Certainty Bottleneck (and ORMs).

On An Expert’s Guide to Database Solutions, James Koopman suggested, maybe it’s time to extend the DBA’s realm of influence, using tools like Spotlight on Oracle.

Or perhaps with other tools, such as TOra? Here on the Pythian Blog, Brad Hudson posted his howto, Installing TOra with Oracle support on Ubuntu 8.04LTS (Hardy Heron).

One last important bit of news from this week—Thomas LaRock, AKA SQLBatman, is America’s Most Exciting DBA.

Until next time, Happy Holidays to all our readers!

November 21, 2007

» How to find out the machine ID on various UNIXes

It recently came up that it would be helpful if we had a cheat sheet to find out the machine names for any given UNIX. I knew these off the top of my head but it would be great if people added more as comments.

HP/HP-UX: /bin/uname -i
IBM/AIX: /bin/uname -m
SGI/IRIX: /sbin/sysinfo -s
Sun/Solaris: /usr/ucb/hostid

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