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Slonik PostgreSQL laptop Stefan Fercot

Back from FOSDEM 2024

Everyone knows FOSDEM, right?
The PostgreSQL Project has been present there with a booth and a Devroom since more than 15 years now!
And this year there was the 10th FOSDEM PGDay organized on the Friday before FOSDEM.

I had the chance to spend 3 days with awesome #PostgresFriends and even more free and open source software aficionados.
Here’s a short writing of how I lived those exhausting but very exciting days.

PGDay

PostgreSQL Europe held the FOSDEM PGDay on Friday at the Brussels Marriott Hotel Grand Place.

The venue is great but I admit I sometimes had some difficulties to see the lower part of the slides content given the stage layout.

After a few welcoming words from Magnus Hagander, the fun started with Joe Conway speaking about Collation Challenges — Sorting it Out. Joe managed to pretty much scare everyone in the room presenting some very simple and practical ways to corrupt our databases by changing glibc version.
That was a very informative talk with very good examples. TLDR, ICU can help, but not face all the challenges of collation issues.

Then came the story telling from Boriss Mejias and Derk van Veen about how they managed to investigate a performance issue of a standby server which couldn’t keep up. As usual, they started blaming firewall and network and then blaming storage. But this time, after a thorough usage of system tools (like ss and perf), they finally came to the conclusion that on high load caused by vacuum, restart point and activity, this standby server filesystem couldn’t keep up while the network and the disk can.

After the coffee break, Pierre Ducroquet told us about the good, the bad and the ugly things he has seen about multi-tenant databases. Everyone has its own way to deal with such databases and each implementation has its own drawbacks. If you really need multi-tenants, choose wisely…

Finally, before a well deserved lunch (hearing some hungry people and rumbling stomach noises), Hariram Thirukarugavur Ramesh spoke about Seamless Migration to PostgreSQL: Proven Best practices. The target of this presentation wasn’t very clear at first, talking about migration from other DBMS to PostgreSQL and finally coming to introduce the new pgcopydb tool from Dimitri Fontaine for PostgreSQL to PostgreSQL migrations.

In the afternoon, we’ve heard a lot about SQL thanks to Stephen Frost Advanced SQL — Do you know all SQL can do? and Yoann La Cancellera Learning advanced data types, the reverse way. Once again, a very interesting topic with 2 talks somehow completing each other.

Between those presentations, Bertrand Drouvot had a do-over of his http://PGConf.EU 2023 talk Postgres 16 highlight: Logical decoding on standby.

Before going out for dinner with some of my awesome colleagues (yes, that’s also one of the great benefits to attend conferences!), and since Friday February 2nd was Candlemas in Belgium, I obviously had to eat some pancakes 🙂

FOSDEM

Along with other very dedicated volunteers, I spent most of the week-end at the PostgreSQL booth.

There were a lot of very interesting discussions around the booth (and a lot of Slonik plushes and PostgreSQL hoodies distributed!) and it was absolutely great to meet other free and open source software enthusiasts.

The Devroom happened on Sunday, with 8 passionate talks:

If you’re interested to find out how we manage the PostgreSQL devroom, Andreas ‘ads’ Scherbaum wrote a very nice blog post about it back in 2018, but the same principles are still applied today.

To be honest, since I spent some time volunteering, I haven’t been able to attend lots of talks. But I definitely plan to watch some video recordings!

The only other devroom I’ve managed to go to was the Community devroom. Not only in the PostgreSQL project, building a strong and diverse community in the free and open source softwares ecosystem is perhaps even more important than building the software itself.

I’ve only been able to attend How do you change the governance model of an established open source project? presented by Ruth Cheesley, but I would have liked to attend pretty much all the talks in that great devroom. I can’t wait for the videos to be published 🙂

Social

Mastodon had a booth during FOSDEM and I’ve been pleased to follow other participants interacting there online too, using the #FOSDEM hashtag.

Ultimately all staff and volunteers involved deserve a very big round of applause for making such a successful event!

And now?

If you’re still around the FOSDEM area and want to see more PostgreSQL content, come join us next week in Mons on Tuesday February 13h for the PostgreSQL Belgium Users Group meetup!

We’ll have talks from Ilya Kosmodemiansky (CEO and co-founder of Data Egret) about what he learned running PostgreSQL on Windows, and from Matt Cornillon (Solution Architect at Aiven) about how to find Pokémon cards combining PostgreSQL and AI. And bonus point, we’ll have pizzas 🙂

Finally, the next PostgreSQL conference in Belgium will take place in Leuven on May 7th 2024. And the Call for Papers just opened…

See you there!

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