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PostgreSQL, Emacs, and other groupieware

by Wassercrats
on Jul 31, 2004 at 07:07 UTC ( #378879=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I link to a couple of e-mail list threads about my PostgreSQL hell on my home node, so I won't explain it all here, and I'll be brief about Emacs too. I'm avoiding all software that doesn't provide proper instructions for installation and use, despite whatever support community there may be. I visited this and related pages about Emacs and tried installing it yesterday, and encountered broken links and directories from which I was expected to know which of a long list of files to download. I chose the largest file, assuming that would increase my chances of getting all the files I need, then I tried following the instructions here. I got an error when trying to use that gunzip command, maybe because Windows XP doesn't really use an MSDOS command prompt.

I wanted to eventually take the advice diotalevi gave me in response to Perl editor idea and learn elisp, but I refuse to help build an editor that leaves such a bad first impression. Since Open Perl IDE is partially written in Perl, I might choose that editor to add my feature to.

This reminds me of the Perlmonks CSS font size hack. People are willing to add all kinds of advanced features to things when they still haven't gotten the basics done right. I'm pretty sure I could learn how to unpack and install the emacs file and I'm not looking for instructions, but emacs has made a bad second impression on me (the first was all the things I heard about it being difficult to use). Aside from my not wanting to support a product that doesn't provide decent installation instructions (or an installer), I don't want to have to deal with a poorly documented product.

I'm beginning to think that all the hype about open source and shareware being good is just the rationalization of young, liberal programmers who tend to want more freedom in general and can't afford to buy a decent product. Yes, there are choices besides emacs. I've already tried Crimson Editor and jedit, and I chose to go back to Wordpad. My experience with PostgreSQL was even worse, and I chose to build my own storage solution.

Such products will always have a minority following of people using less popular operating systems that the products probably work better with, but some users will deal with the setup and usage difficulties just because people they know use the product. The latter bunch are software groupies, and I REFUSE TO BE A GROUPIE!

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Re: PostgreSQL, Emacs, and other groupieware
by Limbic~Region (Chancellor) on Jul 31, 2004 at 14:13 UTC
    I rarely agree with your viewpoint, but I seldom downvote your nodes. People are entitled to their opinion even when it appears they are deliberately trying to be close minded and argumentative. I am going to give you my opinions on the matter and you can choose to do whatever you will with them.

    Commercial products rarely support multiple platforms. They are written to take advantage of the OS and system architecture that the vendor has chosen. When they do cross multiple platforms, the support is typically very limited.

    An Open Source project is not much different in the beginning. Then, volunteers work to port it to other platforms. In many cases, they realize that not all the users using the software are developers, and provide binary installations for these platforms. They also realize that a developer tends to want to have control over how certain things are done and that these choices can only be made at compile time. It sounds like you would rather be in the binary installation category and there is nothing wrong with that.

    I will not speak about Emacs as I have never used it, but I do have a lot of familiarity with Pg. From their FAQ page, it speaks about non-unix platforms that are being supported. "A native port to MS Win NT/2000/XP is currently being worked on....". It then points to step by step instructions for installing it using Cygwin. I have followed these instructions numerous times and never had a problem. In fact, the only time I did have a problem is when I did not follow these instructions and jumped through a bunch of hoops because I was listening to everything everyone else (self-proclaimed subject matter experts) were telling me to do.

    My suggestion to you is to look for binary distributions whenever possible. Sometimes that will not be available for all platforms - especially when volunteer work has gone into porting it. When you are compiling from the source - realize that it is intended for developers that want control over what is going on, and have enough knowledge to figure it out when it doesn't go perfect the first time.

    Cheers - L~R

      Also, in that FAQ, there are instructions on building a native Win32 port of PostgreSQL without Cygwin. I once tried to point the OP to those instructions, but he insisted on building it with Cygwin. Building without Cygwin involved downloading the bleeding edge CVS versions, and when I tried to compile, I had one minor error which I fixed, and by the time I reported the error it was already fixed in CVS.

      Since they don't officially support native Win32 yet, I'm willing to put up with a few glitches, and am willing (and so far able) to deal with them. I don't know why Wassercrats is having so much trouble, when TIMTOWTDI. Maybe when the official Win32 port comes out, there'll be an install.exe or msi file available, and he'll be happy.

      Somewhere within the two PostgreSQL mailing list threads that I link to on my home node I mention which instructions I followed. I followed a couple of steps from PostgreSQL's website and/or CYGWIN's, then I followed these instructions, (the "NT services Cygwin PostgreSQL installation procedure," recommended over PostgreSQL's instructions by several sources, including a comment to PostgreSQL's instructions on their own website), with GREAT difficulty. To solve one of the problems, I read an old post in the PostgreSQL mailing list that basically said "So what if we didn't put it in the instructions. It's in the FAQ." I spent about two weeks seeking help on PostgreSQL's mailing list, and it didn't help.

      Here's one part of the instructions:

      4. Cygwin PostgreSQL can fail to start or not function properly if certain files and directories have incorrect permissions. The following usually solves these kinds of problems:

      $ chmod a+rwx /tmp
      $ chmod a+rx /usr/bin /usr/bin/*
      $ chmod a+rw /var/log # could adversely affect other daemons

      I tried the first two, but the warning scared me away from the third. Maybe the third would have solved my problem...

      YEAH, RIGHT!

      I always look for pre-compiled distributions, but there's something seriously wrong with whoever's in charge of this stuff (and all the users who don't complain!) when, in the case of emacs, there's no indication of what to download and the unpacking instructions for Windows use a command that doesn't work.

The Princess and the Pea
by mojotoad (Monsignor) on Jul 31, 2004 at 08:01 UTC
    There was once a prince, and he wanted a princess, but then she must be a real Princess. He travelled right around the world to find one, but there was always something wrong. There were plenty of princesses, but whether they were real princesses he had great difficulty in discovering; there was always something which was not quite right about them. So at last he had come home again, and he was very sad because he wanted a real princess so badly.

    One evening there was a terrible storm; it thundered and lightninged and the rain poured down in torrents; indeed it was a fearful night.

    In the middle of the storm somebody knocked at the town gate, and the old King himself sent to open it.

    It was a princess who stood outside, but she was in a terrible state from the rain and the storm. The water streamed out of her hair and her clothes; it ran in at the top of her shoes and out at the heel, but she said that she was a real princess.

    'Well we shall soon see if that is true,' thought the old Queen, but she said nothing. She went into the bedroom, took all the bed clothes off and laid a pea on the bedstead: then she took twenty mattresses and piled them on top of the pea, and then twenty feather beds on top of the mattresses. This was where the princess was to sleep that night. In the morning they asked her how she slept.

    'Oh terribly bad!' said the princess. 'I have hardly closed my eyes the whole night! Heaven knows what was in the bed. I seemed to be lying upon some hard thing, and my whole body is black and blue this morning. It is terrible!'

    They saw at once that she must be a real princess when she had felt the pea through twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds. Nobody but a real princess could have such a delicate skin.

    So the prince took her to be his wife, for now he was sure that he had found a real princess, and the pea was put into the Museum, where it may still be seen if no one has stolen it.

    Now this is a true story.

    -- as scrivened by Hans Cristian Andersen
Re: PostgreSQL, Emacs, and other groupieware
by Joost (Canon) on Jul 31, 2004 at 17:01 UTC
    Hello Wassercrat(s)

    What, excactly, is your point in this post? You had difficulty installing 2 open source applications on windows (one of which doesn't even have a completed Windows port) . Well, that's possible. By the way, the biggest problem I ever had with gzip'd tar files on windows was that the (commercial) Winzip application defaults to messing with the line-endings of unix files.

    Then you claim that people who are able to install and use open source software and like it are "young liberal programmers". Thanks for calling me young, but please don't pretend to know my political preferences.

    Then you go off about "less popular operating systems" where the products work better. I can assure you postgres works perfecly on Linux, yes. I have also used different emacsen on windows, linux and amigaos, and they all worked pretty well, but then emacs has been around since 1976, and works nearly everywhere.

    Also this sentence: "but some users will deal with the setup and usage difficulties just because people they know use the product" makes no sense to me. If I use emacs (which I don't, I prefer vim) why would it give someone else usage difficulties?

    Oh yes: what does all of this have to do with Perl?

    To be a little more helpful, here's a list of editors I've used on windows and do not suck:

    textpad (commercial), vim (variants: gvim, vim and cygwin vim), xemacs, eclipse and ultraedit (commercial) update: and I also like MS Visual Studio, go figure.

    update2: if you really think commercial products are easier to install and use I suggest you download the oracle database installer and try to get it to do something useful.

      I'd rather not pay.

      I looked at Eclipse (with EPIC). Not enough of the features I want (and I don't need many). The version number scares me too. I'd like to be able to indent blocks of text without running everything through Perl Tidy. I overlooked that, but it doesn't seem to match braces either (from my search of the documentation). Bad version + 2 missing features = not for me.

      I heard bad stuff about xemacs.

      I've heard some recommendations of vim. I'll take a look.

        I'd rather not pay

        Why not? According to you, software that doesn't cost anything is crap (at least, that is your implication). So why would you intentionally avoid quality software and opt for crap?


        What "bad stuff" did you hear about xemacs?
        vim is ++. It has some built-in Perl helpers, and some others have been contributed by users.

        And it installed quite readily. :)

Re: PostgreSQL, Emacs, and other groupieware
by davidj (Priest) on Jul 31, 2004 at 16:53 UTC
    I'm beginning to think that all the hype about open source and shareware being good is just the rationalization of young, liberal programmers who tend to want more freedom in general and can't afford to buy a decent product.

    You don't come right out and say it, (and I don't want to commit any logical fallacies here), but your implication is that there is a direct, positive correlation between ease of installation and the quality of a product.

    Wow! That's one hell of a criteria for determining quality. I take it you then believe that 1) IIS is a top quality web server and 2) IE Explorer is a top quality Browser. I guess we should just ignore the fact that IIS security has more holes in it than Sonny Corleone at a tollbooth (as Dennis Miller would put it) and that Explorer is so bad that CERT says "use anything but...". Yeah. That's a criteria I'm going to rush out and adopt.

    Your other implication is that a product cannot be decent unless there is a price tag attached. If this were the case, then why the hell are you even using Perl?

    Finally, as to your postgreSQL hell. Let me get this straight:
    1) You're trying to use an interface which wasn't even written by the postgreSQL development team, but rather by a third party.
    2) It isn't "working" for you.
    3) Therefore, postgreSQL is a poor product?

    Yeah, that's putting blame in the right place.

    Here's a question for you: Real developers and read sysAdmins get it done. The rest just bitch and moan. Which group do you fall into?


      There is absolutely a positive correlation between ease of installation and the quality of a product. Between cost and quality too. Software without an installer is incomplete and unlikely to be able to compete with traditional commercial software. If it tries, it's likely to come out the loser. Despite how long emacs has been around, there's also a positive correlation between the existence of an installer and the extent of a products evolution/version, and despite what others have said about my preference for higher versions of software (and modules), the higher, the better.

      Site all the exceptions you want. My common sense and experience tell me I'm correct.

        There is absolutely a positive correlation between ease of installation and the quality of a product.

        On my system, installing Emacs is this diffcult:

        sudo emerge emacs

        And the rest is done. However:

        sudo emerge IE

        Doesn't work. I therfore conclude that IE is a crappy browser for having a poor installation mechanism on Gentoo GNU/Linux.

        send money to your kernel via the boot loader.. This and more wisdom available from Markov Hardburn.

        Software without an installer is incomplete and unlikely to be able to compete with traditional commercial software
        Ever thought about the possibility that some software might be targeted at a group with a certain skill level? This could be the reason why most people don't try to blame the software to be incomplete just because the installation and configuration cannot be done using a "admin for dummy" wizard.
        Despite the fact that I often get annoyed by time consuming installations, I think that this even is a big benefit as I am forced to learn something on the way. IMHO, providing easy installation wizards in areas where some knowledge is badly required is a big mistake.
        I cannot speak for emacs, but for PostgreSQL I would suggest that you should take your installation trouble as an indication for a problem at your end. I mean, why do you try to install it on a platform (Win32) it's not designed for anyways?

        (who just couldn't resist anymore and agrees to davidj- real admins get it done, and the rest should leave it to the real ones.)
Re: PostgreSQL, Emacs, and other groupieware
by Your Mother (Bishop) on Jul 31, 2004 at 08:24 UTC

    Dear Mr Wassercrats,

    I represent the Ang Mo Kio Chapter of the Fans of Emacs Chapters United. Your tactless missive demands a reply.

    We are not groupies. Groupies sleep with IDEs because they want to be near something famous. We are IDE-aides. We're here for the IO.

Re: PostgreSQL, Emacs, and other groupieware
by dfaure (Chaplain) on Jul 31, 2004 at 08:16 UTC
    Such products will always have a minority following of people using less popular operating systems that the products probably work better with, but some users will deal with the setup and usage difficulties just because people they know use the product. The latter bunch are software groupies, and I REFUSE TO BE A GROUPIE!

    You should be careful, posting here surely makes you a Perl one... ;)

    HTH, Dominique
    My two favorites:
    If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail. --Abraham Maslow
    Bien faire, et le faire savoir...

Re: PostgreSQL, Emacs, and other groupieware
by Steve_p (Priest) on Jul 31, 2004 at 14:11 UTC
Re: PostgreSQL, Emacs, and other groupieware
by BrowserUk (Pope) on Aug 01, 2004 at 14:48 UTC

    You might like to try this link. It leads to a beta .msi install of a free (as in it costs nothing) alpha-win32-native port of PostgreSQL.

    It wasn't totally trivial to locate on the pgsql website, but a careful step through the FAQ following the win32 links, led straight to it.

    The port is alpha and "not for production purposes", but as you want it for learning, it should be good enough until the port gets more stable.

    Examine what is said, not who speaks.
    "Efficiency is intelligent laziness." -David Dunham
    "Think for yourself!" - Abigail
    "Memory, processor, disk in that order on the hardware side. Algorithm, algorithm, algorithm on the code side." - tachyon
      I wanted it for a commercial web application, so alpha won't do. I don't mind my alternate solution of using flat files. With some of the modules and a bit of programming, flat files don't have to be that flat, and my needs are pretty simple.

        Oh well. For almost anything that you can easily do with flat files, I'd strongly recommend them over an RDBMS anyway.

        Once pure flat files become limiting, using simple tied interfaces to files will buy you a lot of simplicity and give you access to structure. Especially, the most useful recommendation that I picked up from merlyn, which is DBM::Deep.

        By the time your application find the limitations of that (other than size), you'll probably be in need of a proper RDBMS anyway--but that's usually a way off at the beginning.

        Examine what is said, not who speaks.
        "Efficiency is intelligent laziness." -David Dunham
        "Think for yourself!" - Abigail
        "Memory, processor, disk in that order on the hardware side. Algorithm, algorithm, algorithm on the code side." - tachyon

        Say, I never got the impression that cygin PostgreSQL was something to run in production anyway. You'd want a proper *NIX for that. When you've asked about getting cygwin PostgreSQL running I've gotten the impression that you take both the hard way (which often seemed to be getting native compiles of this stuff when Win32 native compiles aren't supported yet) and now that you might have never noticed that there is no production PostgreSQL on Win32.

        I can have a seemingly production quality client connection to PostgreSQL from Windows 2000 but that's over the ODBC drivers ( You'd want to use the DBD::ODBC module then to connect since that'd be your local client interface.

        Anyhow, I use PostgreSQL and emacs because they let me do startlingly cool things that I can't get otherwise. That is, with PostgreSQL I use cascading updates/deletes to use natural primary keys instead of synthetic keys. I use triggers, rules, stored procedures, and views. Robert Treat did a nice demo of the sorts of things I'm talking about in his recent OSCON presentation Applying Advanced Database Features. I do these sorts of things all the time with my own install. I've merged R with PL/R to add support for statistical computing to PostgreSQL. The net effect is that I end up with a really, really capable platform. I need to have to a *nix machine to make this work well but that's just the nature of this stuff - *nix people write the code and that's what its targetted to.

        I use emacs because its something I expect to grow into over a few years. I haven't figured out how to write my own functions or rebind any keys sequences to functions or really any of the fancy stuff. I just know that when I need to, this thing will already be as powerful as I need it to be. I just haven't needed it yet.

        Appended: My example of PL/R is at Chatterbox conversational clusters. The full source code including R inside PostgreSL (called from a perl CGI) is available there as well.

        Appended: Also, I use GNU emacs on Win32. was broken into in August of last year and all the precompiled packages were removed. The only version available there is for some older version. I lived with it for a while and recently got a copy of the latest from someplace. I forget the location. So emacs on Win32 is a matter of either picking the older package from, compiling it yourself with MSVC, or finding a copy someplace. Its a world of hurt for the Win32 users.

Re: PostgreSQL, Emacs, and other groupieware
by OhReally (Monk) on Jul 31, 2004 at 16:12 UTC
    Your topics always sound like trolls wassercrats :-/

    Here click on this and install xemacs. Its dead easy to install. I use xemacs on windows and emacs on linux for coding perl.

      Your topics always sound like trolls wassercrats :-/

      I don't think he is. His posts are too incoherent and self-contradictory to be very effective as trolls. “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

      Makeshifts last the longest.

        I thought I once heard someone say you wrote some stuff. Every writer should have a dictionary. Get yourself at least one, a good editor and a better attitude.
      I should point out thought that you will need to learn the keyboard commands etc.. to get the most out of it but you should be able to figure the basics out straightaway.

      Make sure you get perl mode and syntax highlighting by using

      m-x perl-mode
      m-x font-lock-mode
Re: PostgreSQL, Emacs, and other groupieware
by water (Deacon) on Aug 01, 2004 at 11:14 UTC
    Sure, W's posts are often troll-like. And I am big fan of computers and open source.



    ...there's a small shred of truth in what he says:

    computers in general are still too hard to use. For both experts and novices alike.

    I mean, you can go to any car rental place in the country, rent a car, and drive it within a few minutes, and it just works, and you never read the manual. Ditto most cell phones, chain saws, refridges, etc. You need the manual for hard stuff -- What should do to my car if I'm planning on leaving it idle for six months while I'm out of the country? but the basic functions just work. Even the complicated stuff, like all-wheel drive and airconditioning, are usually a button to push and the car Does The Right Thing.

    Computers simply aren't there yet. Maybe another twenty years, but not yet today.

    Computers, for the novice or the expert, take lots and lots of fiddling.

    In some senses, the situation is worse for sophisticated users (like perlmonks) because (1) we have higher expectations for what computers can do, and (2) we have more patience with and aptitude for fiddling. You know the posts we can read here along the lines of

    Hi! I wanted to automatically SFTP from box Foo into Box Baz which runs a different OS and then grab files in Bulgarian Unicode UTF32 from Baz over a samba share into Beep. Had some problems with line endings, Open SSH vs., but after a few days of fiddling, I got it all figgered out. So anyway anyone know of a good CPAN mod to translate my Bulgarian item descriptions into English? PS I'm running Perl 5.1.01 on my Zire 71.

    So we fiddle away, and we're usually smart enought to get it all to work, but at times you have to step back and say, Why isn't all this stuff easy yet? Processors are blazing fast, memory and disk are essentially free (vs. where we were just five years ago) -- cheap computers on the desktop are more powerful than the big iron of a decade ago -- with all this power, why isn't it easy yet?

    The early Palms were easy -- good interface, easy to use, simple, robust. Now PDAs are getting more complicated and hard to set up use. And crash more.

    And Perl (as a programming language) is a good step in the direction -- thanks Larry for freeing me from being forced to think about memory allocation and searching and ugly IO, freeing me up to work on higher-level more interesting stuff. I can think about the low-level grunge if I need to, but usually in Perl I don't need to. And it just works. And That Makes Me Happy.

    IMHO, computers in general are still so hard to use because the computer industry is so young and evolving so fast.

    Vs. say, the auto industry, where changes to the internal combustion engine and transmission come along at a glacial speed.

    And good installers are important -- I don't WANT to read docs as often as I have to now -- I want to plug things and have them work, so I can focus on my task and my product rather than on my install and the toolkit. (Hurrah for emerge! Hurrah for the standard Win installer/uninstaller!)


    W. is often troll-like, yes. And I'm a big fan and supporter of perl and Linux. And I don't mind and often enjoy fiddling with these machines. And I know everything can't (and shouldn't) be reduced to a single button push. And yes, I do read manuals.

    But maybe in the next few decades we'll see increases in simple usability. More and more CPU cycles will go towards making computers work better for PEOPLE, and in general that will be a very good thing.


      It isn't easy, because a car just has one function. A cell phone just has one function. A chain saw just has one function. A refridgerator just has one function. A computer is not comparable to these devices. A computer is a meta-tool, a thing you can use to build the tools you need. A computer is easily orders of magnitude more complex in its purpose than any of these devices.

      Makeshifts last the longest.

        Then let it be difficult, but incorrect instructions and procedures that won't work even after weeks of getting help through the software's mailing list need to be changed. I'm a programmer, and I could deal with complex things, including instructions, but badly written instructions are unacceptable whether I could eventually figure things out or not. I take bad installation instructions as a sign of more bad instructions and other bad stuff to come. First impressions are important because they indicate the big picture, and I'm sure as hell not going to support software that can't get the basics correct after all these years.
Re: PostgreSQL, Emacs, and other groupieware
by mattr (Curate) on Aug 02, 2004 at 05:18 UTC
    Your email is very wierd. Since tons of people are using software obviously there is something wrong with your computer, or brain.

    I think it is your computer. It has XP running on it. That is the problem. I have run Xemacs on NT and 98 (and I thought XP but I could be wrong..) also a Japanized version called meadow that I installed on 98 last week. But XP has given many products trouble so that is the most likely problem. However if you run in cygwin that should solve any problems. Also note emacs and Xemacs are different (were you trying gnu emacs?).

    I know of two versions of Xemacs developed for NT. They work well though pure Xemacs is a hard act to follow. For example I installed last week as I mentioned and was so delighted I almost succeeded in convincing myself that having a DOS shell instead of bash start up when I do M-x shell was not a big problem. (Windows sux but I wanted to build a wxperl app so..). However with bash.exe and cygwin1.dll from cygwin even this would probably solve itself if it really started to worry me.

    Postgresql, dunno, but I have run it in cygwin and also run mysql for windows on NT without cygwin, just fine. I think you need to cool off.

    That said why not try Komodo from Activestate. It is cheap and will undoubtedly be easier for you to use.

      I'm pretty sure I'll be sticking with Vim.

      I'll be avoiding all databases for a while, except maybe for the module-based psuedo-databases that are based on flat files and tie variables to the file.

      Some of my struggle with PostgreSQL was with getting ODBC to work and with Cygwin (I used their mailing list too), but I mostly blame the PostgreSQL instructions.

        if vim works no sweat. maybe you would like to try mysql which I have gotten to work with odbc a while back.. I think was maybe key there. or sqllite in cpan. good luck!
Re: PostgreSQL, Emacs, and other groupieware
by Wassercrats on Aug 06, 2004 at 10:37 UTC
    Vim sucks too. I'm uninstalling it and going back to Wordpad until I select a decent editor to buy, and I'm in no rush.

    If you want to know why I made this decision, try looking up how to set the autoindent for perl files to three spaces. I mean permanently, so you don't have to reconfigure each time you edit.

      This should do it, if I understand what you're after. In the .emacs config:

      (custom-set-variables '(cperl-indent-level 3) '(cperl-continued-statement-offset 3) '(cperl-tab-always-indent t) '(indent-tabs-mode nil) )
        Well, I decided to reinstall gVim. I don't know if I'll be turning off all indenting for all files, which I think I could figure out, or following the instructions someone gave me for possibly doing exactly what I want.

        First, I'll be downloading an IRC client and visiting the #vim channel on to ask what the difference is between gVim, gVim easy, and gVim Read only, which appear identical and for which separate desktop icons were created.

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