Minutes of BLUG Meet May 2003 -=- Date : 23.05.2003

Getting Involved in OpenSource

The meeting started with the speech of Biju Chacko on the Open Source Movement.He requested the Linux users' community to change the trend from merely using Linux to improving Linux even if it be in a limited manner.In particular he exhorted the community to atleast start reporting the bugs encountered, while running an application, accurately to the concerned developer.

Secondly, he wanted the users to patiently go through the Linux Documentation and effect necessary corrections and put it back to the author.

Thirdly, he requested the programmers to make basic corrections to programs in languages one knows so as to help the developers to proceed further meaningfully.


An Introduction to RDBMS

This presentation was also done by Biju Chacko.He focussed on Open Source Software -based databases such as MySQL and PostgreSQL, and listed their relative strengths and weaknesses.He also dealt with Firebird RDBMS which is forked from Interbase 6.0 (Borland product) and SapDB which has descended from ADABAS.

In the second part he spoke about a few commercial databases such as Oracle, DB2, Ingres, and Sybase.


Issues facing designing database appliactions

This presentation was by Harish Nagarajan supported by Sumanth Gargi,both sixth semester(B.E)students from RVCE, Bangalore.Both of them are doing a project in Kidwai Institute of Oncology using MySQL.The former very clearly demonstrated, by way of illuminating examples,the problems faced during the execution of the project and the workarounds which were used to overcomr the limitations of MySQL database system.The key to their solutions lay in appending the data type as INNODB and effectively using the associate arrays in PHP scripting language to access results.They also used the PDF functions in PHP to generate reports.


PostgreSQL

The above presentation was by Devdas Bhagat.He outlined the general characteristics of Postgres Object-oriented RDBMS.He took some time to illustrate with examples about the numerous, supported SQL commands and data types including the provision for user-defined ones.He also dealt with those advanced aspects such as support for triggers and rules which allows modifications to the database on the fly.

Further, the Interfaces, both command line (pgsql) and graphical(pgaccess) were discussed.The availability of GUI-based tools such as PHPPgAdmin and Webmin was mentioned.He went on to illustrate the Developer Interfaces( C/C++,Perl, Java, PHP etc.) available on Postgres.

A few examples of functions and stored procedures in the form of PL/Pgsql with extensions available for other languages such as Perl, Python and Tcl was also discussed in detail.

The presentation continued with topics dealing with performance enhancement in the area of increasing the maximum connections, size of Write Ahead Log (WAL) and running the VACUUM command to maintain and analyse the data and to arrive at optimised decisions.

The presentation ended with security aspects of Postgres, backups and a brief mention of live replication( in beta stage now)and likely to be incorporated and available from Postgres version 7.4.


The ZOPE Object Database(ZODB)

This presentation was by Kiran Jonnalagadda.He illustrated about the comparative advantages of using ZODB,which stores objects instead of dtabase records,as against the RDBMS's.These objects could contain variables and methods to act on them as well.It has the capacity to effect unlimited "undo" operations.The ZODB uses Python which is classified as a dynamic and strong language in comapirision to other languages.However, it has no SQL support, no security, and no query assistance.But it has the facility of letting databases getting mounted like file systems.The ZODB normally stores data in a single file.However, it has the capacity to let you store as "Directory Storage", BerkleyDB Storage", or "Client Storage" as well.


Introduction to ODBC in Linux

This brief presentation done by Kartik N illustrated with examples the availability of ODBC through unixODBC and the relevant configuration files.He also mentioned about the GUI-based utility known as ODBCConfig to configure ODBC on a Linux system.


Creating Business Cases for Open Databases

This presentation by Shiv Senthilvel dealt with issues facing developers of the appropriate database for individual business models.He focussed on the need for studying the specific business and select the appropriate RDBMS to be deployed.The points to be taken care of are : Multi-user scalability, Query language, Volume, Transactions, Performance,and TCO.He also cautioned the developers from deploying unsuitable databases and said that the collateral should, if we may say so "compare with comparables".


The BLUG meet ended with a sum up by Atul Chitnis of the background to the selection of databases as the topic for the month.He illuminated the the fact that with the Governements in various states focussing on e-governance and related issues, it would be prudent for a community like ours to respond appropriately and demonstrate the relevance of Open Source RDBMS's to be deployed in Village Panchayats for proper accounting.He also spoke about the need for building such an environment as distributed databases are the need of the hour country-wide rather than huge, monolithic ones.Atul Chitnis concluded by saying that he would persue with Governement authorities on this issue.


The last part of the agenda was the handing over the mantle of BLUG Adminstrator's responsibility to Kartik N by Kingsly John.

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