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Open Source Databases: As the Tables Turn

by: Tim Perdue
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November 12, 2000

My July Article comparing PostgreSQL and MySQL caused a stir that really surprised me. Of course, users of both databases called the tests rigged one way or the other, even though I noted that both databases had their strong points under various circumstances.
All that aside, we've been running into some rather grim and serious MySQL problems on SourceForge - most of which are directly related to MySQL's table-level locking mechanism. To give us some breathing room, we've been running a Beta version of MySQL with pretty good success.
Those problems and other MySQL limitations have caused me to evaluate database alternatives, first Interbase (apparently a dead end), then PostgreSQL.
It didn't take long to rule out Interbase after discovering that it lacked replication, full text indexing, and had serious community and corporate issues around its "Open Sourceness".
Postgres also lacks replication and full text indexing (MySQL's latest betas include both features), however the postgres people issued a press release about replication (currently vaporware) and it will be coming soon.
I've worked with Postgres quite a bit in the past and had occasional but serious problems with reliability under some circumstances (Geocrawler.com runs on Postgres and had a tendency to melt down every few months, losing some data in its 10GB database). So I began evaluation of Postgres 7.1 with some trepidation. My benchmarks in July showed PG 7.0 to be clearly slower than MySQL and I outlined several limitations that I found annoying. Still, Postgres has dozens of advanced features that MySQL lacks (triggers, foreign keys, rules, subselects, views...) and was well worth investigating.

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