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PostgreSQL contributor Heikki Linnakangas joins VMware vFabric Team

In this short Q&A, we get the perspective of Heikki Linnakangas who’s just joined VMware after being a senior software architect and contributing to PostgreSQL for six years.

1. You’ve been involved with PostgreSQL for a while, could you give us a bit about your background and how you’ve been involved?
It all started in 2003, when my second child was born. I was at home with the baby for a month or two, and thought it would be fun to take a look at how a DBMS works under the covers. I have done programming as a hobby since I was a kid, but had not had a chance to do much outside a work environment for some time.

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I had used other DBMSs at work before. At the time, I was developing applications mostly on top of DB2. The relational model and DBMS technology has always been close to my heart. I started looking around for an open source DBMS codebase that I could dive into. There were several at the time, MySQL, Firebird, Derby come to mind. And then, there was PostgreSQL. I had never used PostgreSQL before, but the codebase was extremely well commented and easy to understand. It was easy to download and compile and start hacking. As an exercise, I started to work on implementing two-phase commit, which PostgreSQL didn’t have at the time. After a few weeks of hacking around (whenever the baby was taking a nap) I had a rough protype working.

2. What about personally? Besides working with databases, what do you spend time doing?
Nowadays, I spend most of my free time with the family. I’m very lucky to have a full-time job as a PostgreSQL developer. I used to do that as a hobby, but now I’m getting paid for it, which means I have a lot more time to both work on the project and to be with the family, as my work and my hobbies are the same thing.

3. What drew you to PostgreSQL compared to others?
The well-structured and commented codebase. That was the attraction to me as a developer. The liberal BSD-license and the healthy and friendly community around the software are also important, that’s what keeps me still involved after all these years.

4. Why should someone chose PostgreSQL over other databases in your perspective?
PostgreSQL has all the features you’d expect in a database, and it’s open source. It’s stable and mature, yet continues to improve. From a developer’s point of view, it’s very easy to write custom extensions if you need something special, or even modify the source code of PostgreSQL itself.

5. Why are you excited about coming to VMware?
VMware wants to play a bigger part in the PostgreSQL community, and it’s exciting to be part of that. VMware’s interests are very well aligned with the kinds of things I personally also find important in a database, like ease of use, and scalability to not just large systems, but also small databases running on tiny VM instances. Because of that, VMware gives me very free hands to work on things that I’m interested in, and I know I can work on any community projects I like with a good conscience, because even if there’s no immediate benefit, in the long run the company benefits as well.

>> For more info on VMware’s related product offering, see the VMware vFabric Postgres product page.

About the Author: Heikki is a long-time PostgreSQL developer and committer who worked at EnterpriseDB for 6 years. He has worked on many parts of PostgreSQL backend, authoring features such as Two-Phase Commit and the new Free Space Map implementation in PostgreSQL 8.4.

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