Log Buffer #109: A Carnival of the Vanities for DBAs

Aug 8, 2008 / By David Edwards

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It’s time again for another edition of the weekly review of database blogs, Log Buffer. Since it was a big week for SQL Server, let’s start there, shall we?

The big news — SQL Server 2008 is released, as reported by SqlServer-qa.net, in seven different versions. Aaron Bertrand introduces a new kid on the block: SQL Server 2008 Web Edition — “. . . designed for highly available Internet facing web serving environments for the next generation Windows Server,” according to MS. (I’ve heard it rains quite a lot in Seattle. I guess it also Drizzles, too.) Says Aaron, “Basically, it has higher scalability than Express or Workgroup Editions : it supports up to 4 CPUs, no artificial limit on RAM, and unlimited database size.”

(Before you crack open your server case, Tara Kizer on Ramblings of a DBA has some advice on how to get physical CPU count on a server.)

The SQL Server Express Express blog helpfully offers a table outlining the differences in the features of the differences between SQL Server 2008 Express editions.

A couple little issues with the release have already emerged. Here’s Euan Garden on SQL Server 2008 Installation Confusion, VS 2008 Sp1 and NetFx 3.5 Sp1: “SQL Server 2008 has dependencies on (and includes) VS 2008 SP1 and its components (BIDS is just VS 2008, SSMS uses components), plus NetFx 3.5sp1. SQL includes the RTM versions of both of these, HOWEVER they are not broadly released yet. There is a check in SQL Server Setup that if you have an old version (Beta, RC, whatever) it will bounce the install and ask you to upgrade to the RTM bits…which of course are not yet available independent of SQL.” Click through for the KB and some other help. Denis Gobo and his readers have some more to say about this.

In all this change, you may lose sight of an important fact or two, and you may ask yourself, how did I get here . . . what version of SQL Server am I running? A couple resources are shared by Kevin Kline.

It looks like Craig Freedman has been busy getting into 2008 itself. In this post on partitioned indexes in SQL Server 2008, he explores how SQL Server 2008 handles scans and seek on partitioned indexes.

If you use SQL Profiler, you will want to read Tara’s item on SQL Profiler best practices (with some amplification by Adam Machanic).

Some bloggers have been considering more philosphical questions. The first case in point, Data modeling: art or science?, a lucid examination on SELECT Hints, Tips, Tricks FROM Hugo Kornelis WHERE RDBMS = ‘SQL Server’. I’ll start you with the question Hugo closes with: “I guess the real question is … why do customers still accept it when they are forced to sign for a model they are unable to understand? Why don’t they say that they will gladly sign for all the requirements they gave, and for all the answers they provided to questions that were asked in a language they understand, but that they insist on the data modeler taking responsibility for his part of the job?”

Dan Guzman’s philosophical query is, Are you a DBA Monkey? What he’s getting at is how institutional memory and de facto standards can affect your own DBA science for the worse.

MySQL bloggers continued to discuss Drizzle, MySQL’s new stripped-down DBMS. Ivan Zoratti contends that Drizzle might be good for Enterprise users: “Is Drizzle good for the Enterprise? It can be! Some people think it’s too difficult to build a modular server with the current core, some others think this is not easy, but possible and preferable. There is an open debate and this is a great start.”

On Poo-tee-weet, Lukas Kahwe Smith has had some more Drizzle thoughts: his observations on the things left out of Drizzle. Brain Aker–Mr. Drizzle himself–responds.

Jonathan of When pet projects bite back! is not so sure about Drizzle. He deems Drizzle a fork of MySQL, and worries that the Community Edition will suffer thanks to the developer attention paid the new thing.

Robert Hodges of The Scale-Out Blog says Drizzle is cool but confusing. He writes, “[There's] a dark side for Sun’s database business. In addition to unfinished product versions and storage engines, there have now been at least three announced forks of the MySQL code in the last few months. . . .  It is thought-provoking that some of the most respected MySQL engineers inside and outside Sun are working on an alternative to the flagship product.”

There is an excellent and much-discussed technical post on the MySQL Performance Blog by Peter Zaitsev: how adding another table to JOIN can improve performance.

High Availability MySQL looks into mutex contention in MySQL.

Baron Schwartz of Xaprb offers what sounds like a big-time technical post: how to scale writes with master-master replication in MySQL. But really, he confesses, it ain’t: “This post is SEO bait for people trying to scale MySQL’s write capacity by writing to both servers in master-master replication. The short answer: you can’t do it. It’s impossible.” A worthwhile discussion follows.

Rusty Razor Blade‘s Jon Haddad has a quick tip on executing MySQL queries within Vim. Along the same lines, Pythian’s Keith Murphy and his readers offer different ways to edit a dump/exp/script file.

Moving into Oracle stuff now, Riyaj Shamsudeen looked into Oracle import performance to answer the question, Does Import Use Single-Row Inserts for Date Columns?

Pythian’s Alex Gorbachev attended the IOUG’s RAC Attack event in Chicago. His account of RAC Attack Day One features some genuinely awesome video of Chicago.

Being one of the event’s organizers, Dan Norris was of course also there, and he offers his IOUG RAC Attack!, Event Summary.

On his Oracle related stuff, Randolf Geist clarifies exchange partition and the SIZE AUTO option of DBMS_STATS column statistics in 10g, beginning, “[If] you want to take advantage of this new 10g feature, it is crucial that the statistics are gathered on the actual table because otherwise the ‘column usage monitoring’ won’t work as expected. It needs the workload of the actual table, not the one of the exchange table.” Randolf has a demonstration of the issue.

Tanel Poder reports that library cache latches are gone in Oracle 11g. “In 11g all library cache related latches except ‘library cache load lock’ are gone and corresponding operations are protected by mutexes instead. The ‘library cache’ latches have been replaced by ‘Library Cache’ mutexes for example.” Examples included.

On An Expert’s Guide to Oracle Technology, Lewis Cunningham bravely explores the world of Oracle licensing, asking, does Oracle require a license for a development database? “The short answer,” writes Lewis, “is that in most cases, yes, we must purchase a license.” Read through for the long answer (and with Oracle licensing, there is always a long answer).

Beth Breidenbach of Confessions of a database geek wants to know what’s in your office. “Here’s your chance to sound off: what are the must-have user tools/resources for your office (at work or at home)?”

In Postgres blogs, select * from depesz; demonstrates removing elements from arrays with both SQL and Pl/PgSQL.

On the Postgres OnLine Journal, Leo Hsu and Regina Obe write, “One thing I’m really looking forward to have in the upcoming PostgreSQL 8.4 is the introduction of the WITH RECURSIVE feature that IBM DB2 and SQL Server 2005 already have. Oracle has it too . . .” The post looks at Fibonacci, Graphs and Recursive Queries, but also veers off course a little: “As a slightly off-topic side note – of all the Database magazines I have read – Oracle Magazine is the absolute worst. SQL Server Magazine and IBM DB2 are pretty decent.”

Susan Visser reminds those of us in the DB2 and Informix worlds that IBM’s Information on Demand conference is but one week away.

Phew, that was a lot of news! Time for a laugh or two. Here’s Steve Karam with Daydreams, the latest in The Adventures of Ace, DBA. Giuseppe Maxia, the Data Charmer, offers The database hacker glossary and other (funny) stories. Excerpt: “Primary key. The key that you get first from your keyring when trying to open the door. Unfortunately, it’s usually the wrong one.”

That’s all for now, see you in a week’s time. Don’t forget to get involved in Log Buffer — you can edit and publish an edition of your own, or contribute your favourite blog items. Please email me, and I’ll get you started.

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