Reading time: 7 minutes
PostgreSQL is the World’s most advanced Open Source Relational Database. The interview series “PostgreSQL Person of the Week” presents the people who make the project what it is today. Read all interviews here.
Please tell us about yourself, and where you are from.
I’m a community person. Ex-Turkey, now Londoner. Started using Linux in 1996, and PostgreSQL in 1998. Love to travel, listen to music, and enjoy life with friends. Started working around 2000. Joined PostgreSQL community around 1999. Working for EnterpriseDB since 2010, and also running two PostgreSQL companies in Turkey and in the UK.
How do you spend your free time? What are your hobbies?
Depends on how you define free time :-) Music is my big hobby. I try to listen anytime I can. Also, I love walking, cooking and reading articles. Taking pictures has always been one of my all-time favourites, and I’m trying to use Instagram actively. Recently I’ve been watching a lot of movies wherever I am. Still, spending time with people I know is preferred.
For a personal project, started taking pictures of London pubs, and now sharing them on a new Instagram account.
Any Social Media channels of yours we should be aware of?
- Twitter: English, mostly about PostgreSQL, other OSS projects, steak and #BlameMagnus
- Twitter: Turkish, politics, fun, etc.
Any favorite movie, or show, or music?
I don’t have “a” favourite movie – depends on my mood. When it comes to music, I have a wide taste in here – metal is my #1, but then I also listen to blues, reggae rock, and jazz.
What does your ideal weekend look like?
Again, depends. Rarely with kids, usually housework and RPM work during the day, outside in the evenings. Covid changed this a bit – less rpm work during the weekends, and more time outside exercising and reading.
What’s still on your bucket list?
Travel, more travel. Meet more new people, learn more. I had to cancel lots of plans along with Covid-19 pandemic, so I hope I’ll resume them in 2021. I also need to automate RPM builds. Oh also teach people what actually Steak Devrim is :-)
What is the best advice you ever got?
Oh, I cannot tell, but it changed my whole life and started focusing on PostgreSQL right after that :-)
What is this #blamemagnus thing about?
Great question. I am not allowed to give details (hint: a conference), but eventually if something goes wrong, just #BlameMagnus!
When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?
I was looking for a project to learn PHP and “a database” in 1998. Back then, LAMP was the de facto stack, so I also installed it on Red Hat Linux (not the Enterprise one!) 5.1. However, I could not connect MySQL from PHP for 2 days. Then I gave up, and installed another database server that I heard from the IT department of the university, called “PostgreSQL”. It worked out of the box, and this is how I started using it. (A year later, I was told that the MySQL packages that come with the distribution was buggy, so I might be a MySQL user if I ran up2date back then :-) ) I did not look back since then.
Do you remember which version of PostgreSQL you started with?
What other databases are you using? Which one is your favorite?
None. I just use PostgreSQL
On which PostgreSQL-related projects are you currently working?
Maintaining PostgreSQL YUM and ZYPP repos almost full time, along with a bit of community work. I also do some testing, etc. work on various 3rd party projects like PROJ, GeOS.
How do you contribute to PostgreSQL?
I’m responsible for the PostgreSQL community RPM repo for Red Hat, CentOS, Fedora and SLES. Also, I attend conferences, help organize conferences, and volunteer at those conferences.
Before working on the RPMs, I used to help the website team, including the “techdocs” site. As a Red Hat Linux user, I was looking for PostgreSQL RPMs, but they usually were not available for the OS version that I was using – so I started building my own RPMs based on the upstream spec file, and distributed them via my website. Towards the end of 2004, Lamar Owen asked me if I can maintain the official packages, and this is how I started getting involved more with the PostgreSQL RPMs. We got a new infrastructure in 2007, and since then I am maintaining about 300 separate RPMs, where many of them are the dependencies of extensions and GUI tools.
Any contributions to PostgreSQL which do not involve writing code?
All of my work :) I mean, I don’t contribute code to the PostgreSQL core, but then the RPM work involves a fair bit of coding. Seriously speaking, I organized conferences, gave hundreds of talks all over the world, and did translation work. I am the founder of the Planet PostgreSQL project, which is now a part of the core website.
What is your favorite PostgreSQL extension?
What is the most annoying PostgreSQL thing you can think of? And any chance to fix it?
People who cannot say “PostgreSQL” or “Postgres”, or people who pronounce “SQL” as “Se-qu-el” (including some long-term community members!) I think we need something like “Hi, I am Bruce Momjian, and I pronounce PostgreSQL as PostgreSQL”.
What is the feature you like most in the latest PostgreSQL version?
Adding to that, what feature/mechanism would you like to see in PostgreSQL? And why?
I’d like to see a built-in backup tool. That would be easier than many other things. Also, splitting WAL for each database (and having another stream for global data) would improve backups and replication significantly.
Could you describe your PostgreSQL development toolbox?
As an RPM packager, I use all the compilers needed to build the packages. This can be gcc, R-devel (believe me, you don’t want to install it unless you need it, as it comes with tons of dependencies). I don’t use an IDE.
Which skills are a must have for a PostgreSQL developer/user?
OS, mainly Linux. I find this is a base for being a user.
Which PostgreSQL conferences do you visit? Do you submit talks?
I try to attend European conferences including FOSDEM, and Postgres Vision regularly. In the last 3 years, I also visited many local conferences, and organized / attended a few meetups in Europe and Chicago. I submit talks from time to time.
Do you think PostgreSQL has a high entry barrier?
I don’t think so. There are many people in the community who are committed to make PostgreSQL easier to install, and use. This is what I and other packagers do.
What is your advice for people who want to start PostgreSQL developing - as in, contributing to the project. Where and how should they start?
Just trust themselves. The community is very open. The worst case would be getting an email, saying “In short: -1 from me. regards, tom lane”
Do you think PostgreSQL will be here for many years in the future?
Oh, please. I have no idea what else I could do if this project stopped one day. Seriously speaking, the companies behind PostgreSQL are powerful enough to keep PostgreSQL running – and I want to use my tattoo forever!
Would you recommend PostgreSQL for business, or for side projects?
Both. Every startup Everyone. Every company. It is Open Source, backed by multiple companies, has great features, easy to install, easy to maintain.
Are you reading the -hackers mailinglist? Any other list?
I read almost all of the mailing lists. Reading -hackers and -committers give you great insight of what will happen in the next minor/major release, so that I can pass this information to the users in the field.
What other places do you hang out?
Which other Open Source projects are you involved or interested in?
Rocky Linux is what I am interested in nowadays.
Anything else you like to add?
I love the PostgreSQL community. We are not just a bunch of tech geeks, also great friends. Long live PostgreSQL!