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Re: Overhauling GUCS

From: "Greg Sabino Mullane" <greg(at)turnstep(dot)com>
To: pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: Overhauling GUCS
Date: 2008-05-31 23:32:48
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Lists: pgsql-hackers
Hash: RIPEMD160

In the interest of constructive criticism, here's some
ways I think postgresql.conf could be improved.

* A weak +1 to the #include idea. I'm much more inclined to simply
add a new section to the bottom of the file and use version
control, but I could see ways in which include would be useful.

* Rearrange the settings to put the more "common" ones at
the top, even if it means messing up the categories a bit.
Having 'bonjour_name' at the top, and 'default_statistics_target'
buried way down below is crazy. The sections should be
looked at from a clean perspective: do we need them at all? Are their
better ways to arrange things? What order should they be in?

* Much more verbose comments. The abovementioned default_statistics_target
is a very important settings, but there is zero explanation in the file
of what it is. The only thing we're told is that it ranges from 10 - 1000.
We can do better than that. Users would absolutely love it if each item
had a clear explanation, and it would be well worth a slightly increased
file size. See the postfix file for a good example of such.

* Remove the confusing "commented out is default" bit entirely. Simply
set each value explicitly. Why should new users have to confront this?:

# The commented-out settings shown in this file represent the default values.
# Re-commenting a setting is NOT sufficient to revert it to the default value;
# you need to reload the server.

* Lose the tabbed indenting, which looks bad, especially for multi-line
comments. Just use spaces.

* Create a tool, or at least a best practices, for controlling and tracking
changes to the file.

* Put some doc URLs in the file, at the minimum per major section. At the
very bare minimum, a real URL at the top.

* Indicate which values can be changed per-session or per-role.

* Fix the disparity between the syntax in the file and the SET interface.
For example, work_mem = 16MB works in the conf file, but you have to write
SET work_mem = '16MB'. Easiest is probably just to quote everything in the conf.

* Lose the post-value, end-of-line comments, they just get in the way when making
changes and make the file harder to read by contributing to the wrap problem.

* I'm tempted by the argument of creating a separate file for the obscure
settings, but I think it would be too much pain, and nobody would ever agree on
which settings are 'important' and which are 'obscure'.

* It might be nice to mention other ways to reload the file, such as
'service postgresql reload', or whatever Windows uses.

* The word 'paramters' is still misspelled. :)

* That whole sentence about changing the parameters as command-line
options needs to go away.

* Since the executable is now named "postgres" (thank goodness we got
rid of "postmaster"), the file should be named 'postgres.conf'. This would
also be a way to quickly distinguish 'old' vs 'new' style conf files if
we end up making major changes to it.

- --
Greg Sabino Mullane greg(at)turnstep(dot)com
PGP Key: 0x14964AC8 200805311911


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