Tuesday, September 9, 2008

InterBase 2009 comes with multicore support

I have just read the following news article on SDTimes:
InterBase 2009 comes with multicore support
A couple of aspects to this story seeme a little peculiar, while some comments require some clarification.

"Thus the update for InterBase 2009 is relatively subdued"

correct, I do not see any major new features in this new version, however a couple of new features highlighted are

"such as over-the-wire encryption and AES as an encryption scheme".

If you want over the wire encryption for Firebird you could use Zebedee. There have been a number of papers re. this in the past. However this is something that could be implemented in Firebird fairly easily if we so wished.

In terms of database encryption there is code to allow it now, however the original implementation was not reliable. We did put together a more detailed proposal, but after some lengthy discussions it was decided that such functionality was going to be too complicated for the majority of users, and most of them didn't want it any way.

I do have trouble working out what

"The biggest change, perhaps, is the removal of any non-symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) compatible versions of the database. All versions of InterBase will now be able to use multiple processors and cores."

means.. CodeGear have been stating that InterBase was SMP enabled since InterBase 7.0. So what does this mean? Was InterBase non SMP capable/SMP friendly on some platforms? Was there code that wasn't SMP enabled? Has the code been cleaned up, so that all the old platforms have been removed. Or is it just a licensing issue where the new SMP license now supports up to 8 cores/CPUs, while previously you had to buy extra CPU licenses?

One particular quote was very confusing

"For the existing open-source Firebird database, which is based on InterBase, these changes won't trickle down; that free database does not include SMP, disaster recovery or high availability features."

Firebird was originally based on the open sourced version of InterBase 6.0, but the code bases are now quite different after 8 years of independent development work. So to state that Firebird is based on InterBase, although this is technically correct, it is a little disingenuous.

Stating that changes in InterBase will not trickle down to Firebird is correct. InterBase as per Inprise/Borland/CodeGear/Embarcadero is a closed source database. After the code was originally open sourced on SourceForge by Borland, it was forked and Firebird was created. InterBase was then "closed sourced" by Borland, and development work has continued on InterBase in a closed source manner. No code or feature at any time has come from InterBase to Firebird. Although it is possible that Firebird code may have made it into InterBase. However we have no way of verifying that.

In terms of SMP, by re-introducing the process based Classic Arhitecture, Firebird does support SMP. However a process based architecture isn't multi-threaded. That's an issue that's being addressed in Firebird V2.5 (SuperClassic) and Firebird 3.0.

I assume by "Disaster Recovery" this refers to "Journaling with Write Ahead Logging (WAL)" something that has not been implemented in Firebird. I am unsure what the other "High Availability" features are.


"In October, he said that InterBase ToGo will be made available. Normally, InterBase has a memory footprint of around 100MB. ToGo will be slimmed to around 3MB"

I am lost on this one. I am sure by this he means a disk footprint, not memory. And most of the size of the normal disk footprint is taken up by a stupid installer (imho) and docs. My assumption is that InterBase ToGo is effectively a variant on Firebird Embedded, but since ToGo will not be available until October it is difficult to comment.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Solaris 10, Firebird SuperServer and the Service Management Facility

I recently released Firebird V2.04 SuperServer for Solaris 10. This new build uses the Solaris 10 Service Management Facility to stop/start Firebird. Here are some notes on how it works.
I created the following manifest file (it can be found in /opt/firebird/ as gds_db-tcp.xml):

<?xml version='1.0'?>
<!DOCTYPE service_bundle SYSTEM '/usr/share/lib/xml/dtd/service_bundle.dtd.1'>
Service manifest for firebird

<service_bundle type='manifest' name='firebird'>
<create_default_instance enabled='true' />

exec='/opt/firebird/bin/fbmgr.bin -start'
<method_credential user='firebird' group='firebird' />

exec='/opt/firebird/bin/fbmgr.bin -stop'
<method_credential user='firebird' group='firebird' />

<loctext xml:lang='C'>

This manifest file is automatically installed by the pkg installer.
You can manually stop and start firebird using the following commands, instead of using fbmgr.bin

svcadm enable svc:/application/firebird:default
svcadm disable svc:/application/firebird:default

You can verify whether the Firebird "service" is running by using the following:

svcs -a | grep firebird

Supposedly the new Service Management Facility provides automatic recovery from software and hardware errors, so theoretically SuperServer on Solaris 10 no longer has need of the Firebird Guardian, since SMF should do the same job that the Guardian was designed to do. This is going to need some testing ....