OpenStreetMap moves to PostgreSQL

Recently, the OpenStreetMap project put out a very successful call for donations to upgrade their physical database infrastructure, from a dual-core Athlon with 8Gb of RAM and lots (~1Tb) of disk, to a quad-core Xeon with 32Gb of RAM and heaps (4Tb) of (15K RPM) disk.

The speedy success of the hardware appeal (target reached in less than three days) was pretty impressive, but what really perked my (PostgreSQL fanboi) ears up was the news that the new hardware was going to run PostgreSQL, instead of the MySQL database OSM has used from the start. As of April 19, OSM is running their new API live on PostgreSQL.

So, why has OSM abandoned the worlds most popular open source database? I asked the OSM folks, and this is what Tom Hughes of OSM told me:

Personally I’ve been very frustrated with MySQL from when I first got involved with running things. Some of the problem was of our own making in that we had a mix of MyISAM and InnoDB tables (originally everything was in MyISAM) and some tables were using MyISAM features that meant they couldn’t be easily moved to InnoDB.

On top of that it seemed that virtually any non-trivial query would completely defeat MySQL’s optimiser.

The comment about a mix of tables really hits home, since so many MySQL features are split across table types. Want transactions? InnoDB! Want full text search? MyISAM! Want spatial? MyISAM! Want spatial or full-text and transactions? Tough. The devil is in the details. When asked: does MySQL support spatial, transactions, full-text? the MySQL answer is “yes”, “yes”, “yes”, but the reality in production is not nearly so clear-cut.

Note that OSM is not using PostGIS for the main database at this time (their current data model of nodes and ways wouldn’t get much leverage from it) but it is used for other processes like OSM tile generation. And a growing number of people on the PostGIS users list seem to be using osm2pgsql to extract data from the OSM production server for rendering / analysis in PostGIS.

So, welcome OSM, to the PostgreSQL community!


Someone, please call the FTC! I may post my blog on Google, store my mail and calendar and notes on Google, teach people how to make maps using Google, but even I have my limits.

The Google Profile leverages Google search monopoly (you listening, FTC?!?!) into a you-must-join social network. I like LinkedIn as a professional social network, but this is going to blow all that out of the water. Want to be found? To control your professional image? Yes, having a decent personal site will still be important, but now the starting point for a personal search (Google Search) is also the end point (Google Profile).

Can you afford to not have Google Profile? I don’t think I can, and I think that stinks.

Update: Apparently I wasn’t clear about my point: because Google controls search, their Profile is a must-have for anyone who expects to be looked up on the internet (independent contractors, mobile professionals, me). It is not optional. It’s a Google world. Comply.

Earth Sandwich

Earth Sandwich

Happy Earth Day! If you missed the earth sandwich three years ago, here’s a chance to re-live the dream!

Mmmmmmm. Earth sandwich.

Map of the World as We Know It

Somehow, I missed this video in the geoblog meme-stream, so for all the rest of you who also missed it:

And since I’m posting YouTube links, you must watch this unlikely Scottish talent show contestant blow the audience and judges away (figuratively).

Where? There. When? Soon.

Where 2.0 Conference 2009For a number of years now, I have watched with longing as Where 2.0 slipped past me on the calendar. I love the idea of a geo-conference where most of the attendees are not in the government/land management/asset management realm. Unfortunately, trivial matters like the births of children and so on have gotten in the way of my attending, thus far. But not this year! This time out, I’m going to Where, and I’m going to be teaching a short course on spatial databases. Spatial SQL is a powerful tool, so powerful that you don’t require much more than a spatial database and a web mapping API to do some nifty stuff. OSGeo will have a booth this year, so if you’re at Where and you want to talk databases, track me down there.

Reminder: If you’re reading this before Wednesday, you still have time to register before the early bird rates go away.