Wilfried Roset

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Category:   Interviews   
Interview conducted 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’m originally from Paris area in France and I live now in Bordeaux with my wife and my 2 years old son. I’m more a SRE responsible for databases from an infrastructure perspective. I love the new term associated with this role DBRE: Databases Reliability Engineer.

Wilfried Roset

Wilfried Roset

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

I don’t remember what’s free time. Joke aside, if I’m not preparing a BBQ, I would be either at my computer learning new things, or reading.

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’ve loved reading both The Phoenix Project and The Manager’s Path. They are sources of advice when you are working in a tech company.

Any favorite movie, or show?

I’ve always loved Remember the Titans with Denzel Washington. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched this movie with my brother.

What does your ideal weekend look like?

Enjoying a full day at the beach with my wife and son, we would have an ice cream to end the day. The next day we would have a nice meal (most likely a BBQ) and play games all together with family and friends.

What’s still on your bucket list?

I would love to skydive near the ocean, something like the Dune du Pilat. If you’ve had the chance to be at this place you know the view is amazing, I can only imagine what it would be like to be above it.

What is the best advice you ever got?

It is hard to choose which one is the best advice because I’ve had two.

My friend Benjamin said to me many years ago “The answer to any question was either in a book or in your teammate’s head, however your teammate will not always be there or have time for you”. The other one is from JL who was mentoring me and said “You will never be able to achieve more than all people, you will share what you know instead of doing everything on my own”.

When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?

This was in 2010 when I’ve joined a High Performance Computing team. Back then, the choice of using Postgres was made for me. Since then I’ve always had a Postgres running near me.

Do you remember which version of PostgreSQL you started with?

If I remember correctly it was an 8.4 version on a Red Hat server.

I’ve an Electronics Engineering degree so it kind of relates to computers but not exactly. I believe it teach me to learn efficiently which is a must have as the IT world keeps evolving faster everyday.

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

I’ve had a couple of years long love story with SQLite. I’ve learned a lot about data modeling while I was coding with my friend Thomas. I have too many MySQL servers under my responsibility. I would say that Postgres is my favorite without any doubts.

Any contributions to PostgreSQL which do not involve writing code?

I try to attend conferences or meetups, this is always a great opportunity to discuss challenges around tech. I’m responsible for a meetup group in Bordeaux where from time to time we talk about Postgres.

What is your favorite PostgreSQL extension?

pg_stat_statements is a must have especially if you love observability. I also like the idea behind Timescale and Citus, I’ve had the opportunity the play with Timescale but I’m still looking for a good reason to store a lot of data in Citus in production.

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

Postgres does not support, yet, transparent proxy, which means that if there is a proxy or load balancer between clients and the server, Postgres will not see clients real IP. The host based authentication loses many of the benefits. It’s even worse, anyhow who has spent time interviewing in a security audit like PCI DSS knows that having the client source IP in the logs is mandatory.

What is the feature you like most in the latest PostgreSQL version?

It is not from the latest but I love the log_statement_sample_rate which gives us the possibility to log a fraction of the queries.

Adding to that, what feature/mechanism would you like to see in PostgreSQL? And why?

Prometheus is gaining more and more adoption, the Open Source community offers many ways to expose information about a Postgres cluster. I reckon that Postgres could have a built-in metrics exporter or support for modern observability like distributed tracing.

Could you describe your PostgreSQL development toolbox?

Each time I need to try something with Postgres I always use the same combo: vim, git and docker.

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

I believe it depends on what you are trying to achieve. Sysadmin skills always help whether it’s for Postgres or anything else.

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

git bisect is from my experience an incredible feature for git, it would help any developers isolate the commit who has introduced an unwanted behavior.

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

I’ve attended FOSDEM many times, as well as PGday Lyon 2019 and PGday Paris 2022. I’ve submitted a talk and got accepted at PostgresOpen 2019. My last submission was for PGConf.EU 2022.

Do you think PostgreSQL has a high entry barrier?

It depends, for a user or an admin point of view I would say it is rather easy to start as there is a huge amount of resources available no matter your level of expertise. From a developper (as in patching postgres code) I would say it could be simpler. I reckon there is room for improvement on the development infrastructure, code review via patches over a mailing list could be intimidating.

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

Postgres documentation is excellent, there is a lot of information to help you start hacking. You could start by trying to build Postgres from the source.

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

With the rise of managed service databases have become a commodity but we still need people able to run the server. I’m quite confident that Postgres has many years left before becoming outdated. The ultimate challenge will be to get students currently in school interested in Postgres to make it evolve even further.

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

Definitively both, in both cases you can’t hardly be wrong with Postgres.

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

I’m in love with observability, I’ve spent quite some time working with Mimir. This is a fully featured timeseries open source backend which I love and contribute to.