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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.
My name is Sébastien Lardière, and I am from France, near the city of Clisson. The place is best known for the Hell Fest, a big metal festival, even if there are a lot of other things to do and see; and drink.
How do you spend your free time? What are your hobbies?
There is lot of things that I like to do in my free time, playing guitar, reading comics, building LEGO, woodworking, but the real things I do is mostly going outside, with a bicycle, sometimes with a camera, leaving with our VAN, going on trekking trip, reading books, gardening, repair stuff in and around the house (I love that), and watching TV series and sports! And, for a long time now, I practice traditional breton dance, and I am giving lessons since this year (that’s fun, really!).
Any Social Media channels of yours we should be aware of?
Last book you read? Or a book you want to recommend to readers?
I would recommend reading “Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist” written by Frans de Waal, which is a great explanation of lots of facts that we are living nowaday, from the biology POV. It’s not a novel, but it’s easy to read and to understand.
Thinking of books I’ve read, I would recommend every novel from JMG Le Clezio (french author, I don’t known if it’s translated in english), and “The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir” from Alex Marzano-Lesnevich.
What does your ideal weekend look like?
The best week-end ever is leaving with our VAN, with my wife, and going to discover things, walking in a forest, at the seafront.
What’s still on your bucket list?
In my bucket list, there is our future holiday, very soon, in Toscana (Italy). In a different scale of time, years ago, I promised myself to learn how to build a guitar! I’ve already read lots of things about that, and it’s still in my head!
What is the best advice you ever got?
“Look at this server, there is a database called Postgres, it’ll be great for what you do!” It was in 2000, I can’t remember the name of the colleague who told me that, but he was right!
When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?
So, I started using PostgreSQL 23 years ago. It was PostgreSQL 7.1, and I had to write a little CMS for hosting websites. I had to learn SQL to manage data, that was the best idea of my professional life.
Have you studied at a university? If yes, was it related to computers? Did your study help you with your current job?
I attended a technical school learning industrial computing, where I learned to use Linux, write C code and understand hardware things, which is still very useful for my job today. Unfortunately, I never wrote C code in a professional way, and databases and SQL was not a subject in this course.
What other databases are you using? Which one is your favorite?
I’ve been using Firebird, very little, a long time ago, which was a great tool. And I had to use MySQL sometimes. My experience is mostly with PostgreSQL, so I cannot much talk about the others.
Any contributions to PostgreSQL which do not involve writing code?
My job today, as a consultant, is to help people use PostgreSQL. I’ve been doing this for a while, it takes a long time, but I like it. My most important contribution to PostgreSQL is probably teaching people to understand and use PostgreSQL and SQL, by conducting training. Also, I’ve written books, in French, about PostgreSQL, which is helpful, I hope.
What is the most annoying PostgreSQL thing you can think of? And any chance to fix it?
Like everyone else, vacuum and self-vacuum aren’t the most interesting things to deal with, along with bloat and txid freezing. But a solution is not easy. I hope the zheap access method will help with some type of use (lots of updates, mainly).
What is the feature you like most in the latest PostgreSQL version?
While MERGE is great, I’m still a big fan of INSERT ON CONFLICT, very useful!
Adding to that, what feature/mechanism would you like to see in PostgreSQL? And why?
I think that pooling connection management, like pgBouncer in PostgreSQL, would be very useful to manage the load from the application. Then, a way to transfer read-only transactions to a standby server from inside the pooler could save a lot of complicated things in the applications. But, obviously, I don’t know how to write that.
Which extensions or connected projects do you use ?
There is a lot of very useful extensions, like PostGIS, Timescale or Citus of course, but I really want to talk about some of very nice tools around PostgreSQL, mostly PgBackrest for backups and PgWatch2 for monitoring, and of course Patroni. And there are tools like pspg, pgbadger or pg_activity which are, in my opinion, the basis for any PostgreSQL user!
Which skills are a must have for a PostgreSQL user?
I think that the most important skill is to really want to learn and understand how things work. With these skills, one could really be happy with PostgreSQL.
Which PostgreSQL conferences do you visit? Do you submit talks?
I try to go PGConf.EU as often as I can, because we can meet great people and listen them, It’s very helpful (and I can visit cities!) Milan and Lisbon are great!
Also, I try to go to french PGDays! And sometimes I present talks and help to prepare the event.
Some time ago, before Covid-19, with Rodolphe Quiedeville and Grégoire Hubert, we had a couple of PostgreSQL Meetups in Nantes, which was successful, and with a lot of great people! We have to think about that again!
Do you think PostgreSQL has a high entry barrier?
Maybe, but even if it can be seen as a difficulty, the barrier to entry could lead to a better understanding of PostgreSQL (and SQL). Generally speaking, I think good technology is sometimes felt as something hard to learn, but as a wellborn tool, PostgreSQL is a good investment!
Do you think PostgreSQL will be here for many years in the future?
As far as I know, PostgreSQL is used by a vast range of projects and users, so, if PGDG manages to work with the users (people and organization), it’ll be there for a while.
Would you recommend PostgreSQL for business, or for side projects?
Obviously, for both, it’s already used for lots of projects. For business, because PostgreSQL has lots of functionality and characteristics needed by this kind of project, and for side projects, because It comes run with few resources, which makes it easy to use!
Are you reading the -hackers mailinglist? Any other list?
I try to read -hackers when I want to understand the subject, but there are too many interesting topics.
Anything else you like to add?
I really want to thank every person who makes PostgreSQL a great tool!