Georgios Kokolatos



Tags:   postgresql    postgres    greenplum    vmware    code    code-review    community    conference    pgeu    pgconf.eu    stockholm pug    pivotal   
Category:   Interviews   
Interviewed by: Andreas Scherbaum

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 am a Greek, born and raised in Athens. I changed many locations since and I finally moved to Sweden from Chile ca 2013. I found a haven in Sweden and I am very grateful for it.

I enjoy travelling, riding motorcycles and route planning. I usually travel alone, yet I always meet new people on the road. The world is full of nice persons.

Georgios Kokolatos

Georgios Kokolatos

Please tell us about your work.

After I turned forty, or thereabouts, I started to get an itch for a new professional direction. I had some options yet I decided to go for a long shot and return to engineering from management. There was a project that always fascinated me yet I didn’t know in depth, postgres. I was fortunate to be hired to work remotely as an engineer on Greenplum by Pivotal. Following Pivotal’s acquisition by VMware, I moved to the postgres team where I now reside.

How do you spend your free time? What are your hobbies?

I really like to ride motorcycles, to hike, play tavli aka Greek backgammon, and occasionally to enjoy a cold beverage on a hot sandy beach. Sweden is an excellent place for three of those activities. Unfortunately there are not so many backgammon boards.

Any Social Media channels of yours we should be aware of?

I am afraid not. Feel free to send me an email if you wish, or even better, a letter. Send me an email first so I can give you my address if you choose the latter.

Last book you read? Or a book you want to recommend to readers?

I would strongly recommend: “Life in the Tomb (Ἡ ζωή ἐν τάφω)” by Stratis Myrivilis. An ode to hope, life and beauty written by a three time Nobel prize nominee and one of Lesbos’s great. If you are up for a lighter read, then the Atrocity Archives (first book of a long series) by Charles Stross, can be an excellent companion to your cold beverage on that hot sandy beach.

Any favorite movie, or show?

This is an everchanging list. I am always excited to see new content on Postgres TV.

What’s still on your bucket list?

A solo round the world journey on a motorcycle.

What is the best advice you ever got?

Listen.

When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?

I started using Postgres as a university student, late last millenium. I had a work project involving geographical data and I needed a convenient store, index and transform solution. A database professor told me that there is this open source project that has native point type support called postgres, it might be helpful. It was helpful.

What other databases are you using? Which one is your favorite?

I use Greenplum because it is interesting. I use SQLlite for some of my weekend hack projects because it is very lightweight and convenient.

I have submitted a couple of patches on pg_auto_failover, maintained by Dimitri Fontaine. It is a great project, I have learned a lot from it and I hope to contribute a bit more to it. Of course I contribute to Postgres itself also.

How do you contribute to PostgreSQL?

I have submitted a couple of patches. I have reviewed a few patches more. The intent is to do more of that in the immediate future.

Any contributions to PostgreSQL which do not involve writing code?

I have co-managed a commitfest along with Anastasia Lubennikova. I co-organize and host the Stockholm PostgreSQL User Group. I volunteer for conferences, such as PG Nordic Day, Pgconf Europe and fosdem. Lately I have submitted translations.

What is your favorite PostgreSQL extension?

There are many excellent ones! To single one out, I will mention pg_stat_statements as it was the first to “save” me in a professional setting.

What is the most annoying PostgreSQL thing you can think of? And any chance to fix it?

There are a couple of itchy spots in postgres. The connections conundrum has been widely reported and on occasion wrongly accused as reason enough to migrate away from postgres. I do not know about fixing it. Though, I was happy to see a long running patch for parts of it, being updated with a fresh version after a long inactivity period.

Could you describe your PostgreSQL development toolbox?

I stick to the basics I am afraid. I develop on linux servers and I make certain that basics, git, vim, tmux, gcc, clang, gdb, lldb, valgrind and perf are installed in their latest packaged version. Heikki introduced me to rr but I have not played a lot with it. I should.

Which skills are a must have for a PostgreSQL developer/user?

I would not know. For me, as a new Postgres developer, what helped me a lot was to be able to collect the basic data structures used in the different stages of processing, and then see how they were used by said stages. I guess, debug, trace and visualize?

Do you use any git best practices, which makes working with PostgreSQL easier?

None besides the basics. For new developers, I would strongly recommend following -hackers etiquette with format-patch.

Which PostgreSQL conferences do you visit? Do you submit talks?

I visit european based conferences such as, Nordic PGDay , PGConf.EU and FOSDEM PGDay . I would love to attend PGCon in Ottawa next time it happens. I do not submit talks because I am really shy on stage. Something I should probably work on.

Do you think Postgres has a high entry barrier?

No, I do not think that. It is demanding for sure, but also it is a very welcoming community that offers a lot of help to new people.

What is your advice for people who want to start PostgreSQL developing - as in, contributing to the project. Where and how should they start?

If they have an itch they wish to scratch, then great, start there. Otherwise start by reviewing patches. A commitfest it is an excellent opportunity to do so. Pick a small, digestible patch and play around with it. Try to break it. See if and how it fits with the rest of the code. Then post your opinion, and here comes the important bit, follow up with it as it gathers more reviews and learn from what other reviewers are saying.

Do you think PostgreSQL will be here for many years in the future?

Yes I do. There are several metrics to support this opinion, for example the trend shown here. Also the vibrant and evergrowing community can be an additional testament to the claim.

Would you recommend Postgres for business, or for side projects?

I absolutely recommend Postgres for both. Its business value is an industry standard as verified by many installations. For side projects, one tends to go to the personal preference. For me that is Postgres.

Are you reading the -hackers mailinglist? Any other list?

I do, though due to the sheer volume of it, I try to thin it out a bit. I also follow -www , -announce , -translators , -bugs and pgeu-general .

Which other Open Source projects are you involved or interested in?

I have my plate full with Postgres, Greenplum, and friends as is.

Anything else you like to add?

Stay safe and I hope to see you or meet you at the next conference.