Log Buffer #88: A Carnival of the Vanities for DBAs

Posted in: Technical Track

Welcome to the 88th edition of Log Buffer, the weekly review of database blogs.

SQL Server

To begin, Simon Sabin, on SimonS Blog, offers the proposition: SQL Server tools suck, do you agree? He elaborates, “When I moved from Oracle 7 to SQL Server 6.5 I was amazed at the tools you got with SQL Server. They made the product so much easier to manage and pickup. Things like enterprise manager, profiler and query plans where amazing. That was almost 10 years ago, and whats changed. Well very little.” There is some improvement with Katmai, he writes, but, for for most DBAs to benefit from it, it needs to be decoupled from the engine. There’s a poll.

Not one to merely complain, Simon also posts on what’s new in SQL Server 2008 tools.

Staying with things Katmai, in the Database Underground, Sean McCown has a critical look at Katmai’s backup compression. Here’s an excerpt: “[What] does Katmai’s backup compression offer? Well, it offers you the ability to compress your backups. Period. That’s it. . . . [What] about the implementation? . . . Well, simply, it’s too limited. Even if you could put up with the missing features, backup compression in Katmai is limited to the enterprise edition. Personally, that’s unacceptable as a backup solution because I don’t want to have several backup processes to manage.”

Systems Engineering and RDBMS has what a lot of SQL Server DBAs want, a basic overview of DTS vs SSIS, the data-transformation tools associated with SQL Server 2000 and 2005, respectively.

High Availability (SSQA.net) tell their story of setting up database mirroring using a local account with 2005. Three problems encountered and solved.

Kimberly L. Tripp issues the call for abstracts the fall 2008 SQL Connections conference, taking place in Las Vegas in November. Kimberly writes: “The conference will take place shortly after the SQL Server 2008 launch (when it actually RTMs, not the ‘launch’ that happened February 27th), and will focus heavily on SQL Server 2008. Abstracts are still welcome on best practices for SQL Server 2005 and how to upgrade and migrate applications from SQL Server 200x to SQL Server 2008. However, we will consider all topics . . .” And hey, it’s a paid gig, too.


Jay Pipes is also on the conference-path. He has an informative reminder to register for the MySQL Conference and Expo. “It should come as no surprise that with the Sun acquisition the registration numbers for this year’s conference are through the roof,” and tutorials (which he introduces) are selling out.

Datacharmer Giuseppe Maxia is likewise beating the conference drum, having offered his top seven reasons to attend MySQL Conference 2008. His reasons are each sessions, and reason #1 to attend goes to Beat Vontobel’s The Lost Art of the Self Join.

Ronald Bradford’s Opinions, Expertise, Passion are changing direction a little. He writes that he is pursuing new ventures with MySQL, having left MySQL to achieve some broader career and life goals. Writes Ronald, “I will however not be leaving the MySQL Community, in fact one of my goals is to be able to contribute to the MySQL Community more, as I did prior to joining MySQL Inc in 2006 . . . For my friends and colleagues attending the MySQL Conference in just 4 weeks time, I’ll be there, so this will a perfect chance to catch me while I’m in the US.” We can also expect a third Log Buffer from him in the near future. Best of luck in your new course, Ronald!

On the MySQL Performance Blog, Peter Zaitsev advises on speeding up GROUP BY if you want approximate results, which you might if accuracy is expensive and unnecessary when all you want is, “close enough to make a decision.”

Baron Schwartz of Xaprb also felt the need for speed, and so he wrote a very fast FNV hash function for MySQL. He writes, “I was inspired by the Google patches for MySQL. But my implementation is a little bit different from most, in a very important way that leads directly to much higher performance, especially suited for the Maatkit tools.”

capttofu (a.k.a. Patrick Galbraith) announces the release of FederatedX Pluggable Storage Engine Version 0.2. The conversation that follows, with Brian Aker and others, is interesting, covering in part, the prospects for this and the Federated engine in MySQL under Sun.

Brian also pops up in the comments for this item on My SQL Dump that covers a bug in the BLACKHOLE engine’s binary logging. Justin Swanhart writes, “MySQL recommends using the BLACKHOLE engine as a replication filter. Well it turns out there is a flaw in the implementation that makes it very dangerous to use it for that.”

Kieth Murphy’s Diamond Notes has a tip on what MySQL version to use if you’re running Linux. The tip and its comments sheds some light on different distributions, package managers, and MySQL’s own approach to development.

Arjen Lentz responds that the current scenario might in effect be putting a premium on quality. “Right now, a key factor is that community builds by Sun-MySQL are only periodic, whereas if you want the latest patches you need to subscribe to MySQL Enterprise or gets the enterprise builds from elsewhere. Is ‘speed of patches for production use’ something that can be charged, or should bugfixes be available quickly to all who use the software? An interesting debate.”


Tanel Poder has made available his highly-rated presentations and files from the Hotsos Symposium, which recently came to a close.

On Oracle Musings, Dominic Delmolino posits The Rule of 5. He writes, “During my 2006 Hotsos presentation I mentioned 2 ‘rules of 5’ that I like to use . . .  1. Most people have 5 times as much hardware as they need . . . A useful tuning goal for SQL is 5 LIOs per row per row source.” He cites a post by Pythian’s Shakir Sadikali: Good Database Design is Mightier than Hardware. (Incidentally, Shakir will be handling next week’s LB#89.)

In another local post, Christo Kutrovsky writes that, on 10G you can only pick any two of bind peeking, ad hoc queries, and stable performance. “There have been plenty of posts about bind peeking. . . . It’s a well known issue. However what hasn’t been written about is when it is expected to strike and cause you headaches. A single query can change the plan of a number of other queries, but just sometimes.”

Musings on Database Security has a short announcement of an Oracle Security Webinar with Pete Finnigan, the Oracle security guru.

Eddie Awad gives us the Oracle SQL and PL/SQL Bad Practices Document, which “. . . contains patterns of bad SQL and PL/SQL code that Gojko Adzic has repeatedly found in various applications and databases.”

Jeff Kemp has looked at the TOO_MANY_ROWS side effect, and taken away the lesson, “. . . beware of performing a SELECT INTO directly on the OUT parameters of your procedure!”

Richard Foote asks, Does Index Column Order Matter Any More, since the introduction in 9i of the Index Skip Scan access path. He explains and demonstrates that it really might, and the comments continue the discussion.


A couple items of Postgres. Tending the Garden announces the launch of the United States PostgreSQL Association.

Everyone loves high-quality free documentation. On Lewis Cunningham’s MySQL Database News, post a link to a free PDF of his book EnterpriseDB: The Definitive Reference. EnterpriseDB is the Postgres-based, syntax-compatible with Oracle RDBMS. This is 738 pages of the aforementioned high-quality free documentation. Lewis hints that we should get it while it’s not “hot”.

That’s all for now. Please return in a week’s time for Shakir’s Log Buffer debut. Till then!



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About the Author

Dave Edwards is the Communications Specialist for the Pythian Group.

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