PostgreSQL: Introduction and Concepts
Author: Bruce Momjian
Price: $44.95 US
Reviewer: Stephanie Black
It's hard to call oneself a fan of databases. Usually, one uses these kinds of applications out of sheer necessity, not because they're within an arm's reach of “exciting”. If databases themselves don't bore new users into out-of-mind experiences, the books that come with them usually do. Usually, the books assume knowledge users don't have, speak above/below the user's comprehension level or leave out all the useful pieces of information.
PostgreSQL: Introduction and Concepts (Addison-Wesley, 2000) is an excellent introduction, not only to PostgreSQL in particular, but to databases in general. It takes the novice database user through all the steps of the TEST database and does so without obfuscation or confusion. For the seasoned database designer/maintainer, it offers a wonderful reference to programming interfaces (including PHP, Embedded C and Python), pgsql commands and other features unique to PostgreSQL.
As of this writing, the book is in its second printing, having sold a massive 2,155 copies in the first month after its release last November. Given the increasing number of people making the transition to open-source software, and the number of people who need a good reference manual for database servers, the need for a book such as PostgreSQL is evident.
Momjian, a founding member of the PostgreSQL Global Development Team, has included a wide range of information on topics ranging from basic database setup to more senior administrative subjects, such as host/hostssl connections, backing up/restoring databases and internationalization. The average user will learn to run psql to access her/his database, enter data, view existing tables and make queries.
This is not, however, merely a glorified HOWTO: numerous features in PostgreSQL are useful to programmers, webmasters/mistresses, as well as DBAs. There are a fair number of programming interfaces for PostgreSQL, broadening its potential uses among computer professionals. This book certainly unlocks much of that potential in its discussion of the languages PostgreSQL can interface with, complete with sample programs illustrating the process.
The book is just as informative about what can be done with this database software as it is about how to do it. From this perspective, it is a success. It is not, however, perfect.
Some organization is present—a good thing to be sure in a book about databases. The trouble is, it's apparent that Momjian hasn't been around database newbies for a while. Were “Appendix B: Installation”, “Chapter 2: Issuing Database Commands” and the first portion of “Chapter 20: Administration” all put together, the new PostgrSQL user would have an easier time setting things up. As it is, one wanders around those three sections for a while, trying to get the hang of things. Momjian has included a fair amount of information about database setup and user creation in “Administration”, which makes sense if he assumes the user will be on a network that is administered by a seasoned DBA. It is inappropriate, however, for an individual who wants to create and maintain a database on a single-user system. Get ready for a lot of flipping back and forth if you fall into the latter category.
I believe every technical book should have three qualities: good indices, clear writing and wise use of appendices. Regrettably, Momjian has included appendices to the tune of 50% of the book, which tends to detract from his work and gives the reader a sense of the book being padded. Certainly an appendix with additional resources is moderately helpful, but a reader shouldn't need a FAQ listing for software that is on the Internet. Such information is best left on-line. The reference manual, included in Appendix D, is helpful but large enough (nearly 200 pages!) to warrant its own cover or reference (with its URL) as an additional resource in Appendix A.
That said, the remainder of the book is well thought out, and the content of chapters is in accord with their titles.
There are some commands that, according to the book, should work but don't. To be fair, this could be a discrepancy between the version used to test the book's commands and the version in current use. The most recent release is 7.0.3; testing of some of the commands was done with 6.5.3. (If you're using the 6.5.3 release, it would be best to update it; if you're involved in the release of a Linux distribution, you'll want to clamor for the inclusion of a more recent version of PostgreSQL.) When I tried CREATE USER I got:
sjb=> CREATE USER paa; CREATE USER sjb=> CREATE GROUP alteregos WITH USER sjb, paa; ERROR: parser: parse error at or near "group"
Several variations of this were attempted with the same results. An associate attempted the same commands using the same release of the software, with the same results. Such situations are, alas, not addressed in the book.
NULL/NOT NULL values also represent problems with this version of the software, at least on the Red Hat 6.2 and Storm 2.0.6 systems that were used. While the author of the book isn't necessarily responsible for these errors, it would have been helpful if possible workarounds were included in the book. There is no recognition that PostgreSQL has its “moments”.
|Designing Electronics with Linux||May 22, 2013|
|Dynamic DNS—an Object Lesson in Problem Solving||May 21, 2013|
|Using Salt Stack and Vagrant for Drupal Development||May 20, 2013|
|Making Linux and Android Get Along (It's Not as Hard as It Sounds)||May 16, 2013|
|Drupal Is a Framework: Why Everyone Needs to Understand This||May 15, 2013|
|Home, My Backup Data Center||May 13, 2013|
- Designing Electronics with Linux
- New Products
- Making Linux and Android Get Along (It's Not as Hard as It Sounds)
- Dynamic DNS—an Object Lesson in Problem Solving
- Using Salt Stack and Vagrant for Drupal Development
- Validate an E-Mail Address with PHP, the Right Way
- Tech Tip: Really Simple HTTP Server with Python
- Why Python?
- Build a Skype Server for Your Home Phone System
- Drupal Is a Framework: Why Everyone Needs to Understand This
- Reply to comment | Linux Journal
43 min 40 sec ago
- Reply to comment | Linux Journal
1 hour 33 min ago
- Not free anymore
5 hours 35 min ago
9 hours 22 min ago
- Reply to comment | Linux Journal
9 hours 30 min ago
- Understanding the Linux Kernel
11 hours 45 min ago
14 hours 15 min ago
- Kernel Problem
1 day 18 min ago
- BASH script to log IPs on public web server
1 day 4 hours ago
1 day 8 hours ago
Enter to Win an Adafruit Pi Cobbler Breakout Kit for Raspberry Pi
It's Raspberry Pi month at Linux Journal. Each week in May, Adafruit will be giving away a Pi-related prize to a lucky, randomly drawn LJ reader. Winners will be announced weekly.
Fill out the fields below to enter to win this week's prize-- a Pi Cobbler Breakout Kit for Raspberry Pi.
Congratulations to our winners so far:
- 5-8-13, Pi Starter Pack: Jack Davis
- 5-15-13, Pi Model B 512MB RAM: Patrick Dunn
- 5-21-13, Prototyping Pi Plate Kit: Philip Kirby
- Next winner announced on 5-27-13!
Free Webinar: Hadoop
How to Build an Optimal Hadoop Cluster to Store and Maintain Unlimited Amounts of Data Using Microservers
Realizing the promise of Apache® Hadoop® requires the effective deployment of compute, memory, storage and networking to achieve optimal results. With its flexibility and multitude of options, it is easy to over or under provision the server infrastructure, resulting in poor performance and high TCO. Join us for an in depth, technical discussion with industry experts from leading Hadoop and server companies who will provide insights into the key considerations for designing and deploying an optimal Hadoop cluster.
Some of key questions to be discussed are:
- What is the “typical” Hadoop cluster and what should be installed on the different machine types?
- Why should you consider the typical workload patterns when making your hardware decisions?
- Are all microservers created equal for Hadoop deployments?
- How do I plan for expansion if I require more compute, memory, storage or networking?