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At the end of the post the author notes his concern isn't with the technical bugs per se, but with the deep rooted cultural problems and misplaced priorities the existence of those problems reveal.

That's a fair problem, but I think It is true for other products as well and was true for things that we feel very solid today like MySQL. In other words there is a tention between stability and speed of development, a very "hard" tention indeed. It is up to the developers culture and sensibility to balance the two ingredients in the best way.

One of the reasons I don't want to create a company around Redis, but want to stay with VMware forever as an employee developing Redis, is that I don't want development pressures that are not drive by: users, technical arguments. So that I can balance speed of development and stability as I (and the other developers) feel right.

Without direct reference to 10gen I guess this is harder when there is a product-focused company around the product (but I don't know how true this is for 10gen as I don't follow very closely the development and behavior of other NoSQL products).


MySQL is a poor analogy because the history of MySQL is very similar to 10gen: a 'hacker' solution originally patched together by people who didn't take their responsibility as database engineers very seriously. It's only after years (decades) of work that MySQL has managed to catch up with database technology of the 80s in terms of reliability and stability (and it still has plenty of issues, as the most recent debacles with 5.5 show.)

On the other hand, commercial vendors like Oracle and open source projects like PostgreSQL recognize their role as database engineers is to first and foremost "do no harm." Ie, the database should never destroy data, period. Bugs that get released that do cause such things can be traced back to issues that are not related to a reckless pursuit of other priorities like performance. Watching the PostgreSQL engineers agonize over data integrity and correctness with any and all features that go out that are meant to improve performance is a re-assuring sight to behold.

This priority list goes without saying for professional database engineers. That there is such a 'tension' between stability and speed says less about a real phenomenon being debated by database engineers and more about the fact that many people who call themselves database engineers have about as much business doing so as so-called doctors who have not gone to medical school or taken the Hippocratic oath.


I agree with you but my comments are more about telling what is going on in my opinion, instead of telling what I think should be the right priority list. Even if I agree I still recognize that MySQL had a much bigger effect to the database world compared to PostgreSQL, so the success of a database can sometimes take strange paths.

But I think a major difference between MySQL and Redis, MongoDB, Cassandra, and all the other NoSQL solutions out there is that MySQL had an impressive test bed: all the GPL LAMP applications, from forums to blogs, shipped and users by a shitload of users. We miss this "database gym" so these new databases are evolving in small companies or other more serious production environments, and this creates all the sort of problems if they are not stable enough in the first place.

So what you say can be more important for the new databases than it was for MySQL indeed.


> MySQL had a much bigger effect to the database world compared to PostgreSQL

And if MySQL never existed, what would have happened ? Would we have all used PostgreSQL in the first place and avoided years of painful instability ?

I read here all the time that fashion and ease of use are more attractive than reliability. And we introduce plenty of new software in complex architecture just because they are easy to use. We even introduce things like "eventual consistency", as if being eventually consistent was even an option for any business.

The problem is to not use random datastores. Use a database that has a proven record of stability. And if someone builds a database, he/she must prove that ACID rules are taken seriously, and not work around the CAP theorem with timestamps...

10 years ago, MySQL was not stable. PostgreSQL was. Today, most key-value databases are not stable, PostgreSQL is.


Interesting to note is that early versions of Postgres, we're talking the pre-6 versions around 1995 here, were awful. Not like I was a very sophisticated user at that time myself but it definitely ate my data back then - we switched to MSQL at that time which at least didn't do that.


Wasn't it still basically a university project for researching MVCC at that point? I love universities of course but we must admit they produce interestingly-architected abandonware sometimes.

My sense was that it got a pretty thorough review and revision/rewrite in the transition from Postgres to PostgreSQL.


PostgreSQL has evolved a LOT in the last decade even. I thought the university project was looking at OO paradigms in relational databases (inheritance between relations and the like).

The change from Postgres to PostgreSQL was largely a UI/API change and the move from QUEL to SQL. However, over time virtually all of the software has been reviewed and rewritten. It's an excellent project, and I have been using it since 6.5.......


That was 16 years ago. Since then, PostgreSQL engineers spent a LOT of time proving the reliability of their engine. And today, 16 years later, we can consider it reliable.

Most key-value databases didn't prove (as in: show me actual resistance tests, not supercompany123 uses it) that they are reliable. The day they do, I'll be the first one to use them. Until then, it's just a toy for devs who don't want to deal with ER models.


you misunderstand me. I LOVE postgresql. It is the best database ever and I try to use it as much as possible. My only point was, they started out as unstable and untrustworthy just like anything else would.


I agree. There was no WAL logging, for instance. Most people consider 7.4 the first actually-possibly-not-a-terrible-idea release.

Then again, Postgres -- the project -- did not try to position itself (was there even such a thing as "positioning" for Postgres 16 years ago?) as a mature, stable project that one would credibly bet one's business on.

Lots of early database releases are going to be like Mongo, the question is how much the parties at play own up to the fact that their implementation is still immature and present that starkly real truth to their customers. So far, it seems commercial vendors are less likely to do that.


Well, 8.0 is really the first really good release.

However, actually-not-a-terrible-idea is pretty relative, when you look at how the industry has evolved in the mean time. I mean, compared to MySQL at the time, PostgreSQL 6.5 was really not a terrible idea. 7.3 was the first release I didn't have to use MySQL as a prototyping system though.

And with 9.x things are getting even better.


> And if MySQL never existed, what would have happened ? Would we have all used PostgreSQL in the first place and avoided years of painful instability ?

I think you're missing the point a little. Yes, MySQL is a heap, and having to work with it in a Postgres world sucks. But, the point antirez is making in that comment (at least how I read into it) is that an active user community in ANY project is hugely important in that project's formation and "maturity" (sarcastically, of course, because Postgres is clearly more mature than MySQL). There's no extrapolation here to the top-level Mongo discussion going on in this thread -- I was just clarifying antirez's point.


I still think that solid engineering on any project begins with the engineering and leadership of a few, and the feedback of many. So yes, community is important, but less important than the core of that community which is necessarily small.


"eventual consistency" was promoted by Amazon, which seems to run a pretty good business.


Where can I get info on the MySQL 5.5 issues? I'm considering upgrading from 5.1 to get the new InnoDB plugin...


Just in case you weren't already aware, you can use the InnoDB plugin in 5.1 http://dev.mysql.com/doc/innodb-plugin/1.0/en/index.html

I know benchmarks don't put this quite as fast as 5.5, but there are still possible gains to be made.


Pssst look at tokudb


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