File Release Notes and Changelog

Release Name: 1.2.0

Release Notes

Release 1.2 of Slony-I has numerous improvements over previous
versions.  

Many of them should represent near-invisible enhancements that improve
how Slony-I manages replication configuration.  These include:

- A major revision of memory management to limit memory usage by slon
  daemons.  In earlier versions, slon would try to load 100 tuples
  into memory at a time.  If you have tables with Very Large bytea or
  character varying columns, this could lead to loading 100 x 50MB
  into memory, twice, doing terrible things to memory consumption.

  slon now loads tuples in, directly, only if they are less than a
  certain size, and handles those 50MB tuples individually.

- Log switching: periodically, Slony-I will switch between storing
  replication data in sl_log_1 and sl_log_2, which allows regularly
  cleaning these tables out via TRUNCATE and which prevents some data
  loss problems relating to cases where different sets originate on
  different nodes, when transaction IDs roll over the 32 bit limits.

- pg_listener is now used dramatically less than it used to be, which
  diminishes the number of dead tuples you will find in this table.

  This, along with log switching, should improve Slony-I behaviour on
  systems where long-running transactions are common.  Older versions
  of Slony-I could suffer quite badly on systems that get hit by
  long-running transactions.

- DDL scripts are broken into individual statements

  This is more a bug fix than an enhancement; it now permits DDL
  scripts to create new tables and columns, and reference them later
  in the script.

  In the past, DDL was submitted to the postmaster as a single query,
  which meant that all of them had to reference the state of
  pg_catalog as it was before the DDL ran.  So you could add as many
  columns to tables as you liked; you could NOT, then, reference those
  columns, because the query processor would discover that the new
  column didn't exist as at "before the DDL ran."

  There is now a statement parser which splits scripts into individual
  SQL statements and passes them to the database back end
  individually.

- Slony-I tables are now marked "WITHOUT OIDS" so that they do not
  consume OIDS.

  It's only particularly important for sl_log_1/sl_log_2/sl_seqlog,
  but the change has been applied to all the tables Slony-I uses.
  UPGRADE FUNCTIONS will remove OIDs from Slony-I tables in existing
  schemas, too.

- When possible (based on log switching functionality), partial
  indexes on sl_log_1 and sl_log_2 are created on a per-origin-node
  basis.  This provides the performance boost of having an easily
  recognisable index, but without the risk of having XIDs from
  different nodes mixed together in one index, where roll-over could
  Cause Problems...

These features are generally configurable, but the defaults ought to
allow improved behaviour for all but the most "Extreme Uses."

There are also numerous enhancements that are more directly visible:

- Windows support

  A group of developers has contributed changes to allow running
  Slony-I as a Windows service.

- PostgreSQL Version Compatibility Changes

  Slony-I developers have been following the 8.2 release expected in
  fall 2006; Slony-I 1.2 can be expected to work with it without
  problems.

  Compatibility with version 7.3 has been dropped; version 1.2 notably
  makes use of some array functionality that didn't exist in 7.3.  If
  you are on 7.3, you're on a REALLY OLD version of PostgreSQL, and
  really ought to upgrade.  You may use Slony-I 1.1.5 to get to a more
  modern version, and then upgrade to 1.2 as needed.

- Process structure is revised considerably; in 1.1.0, an attempt was
  made to create an internal 'watchdog' that would restart threads
  that fell over for whatever reason.

  In 1.2, this is massively revised.  The "main" slon thread should,
  as of 1.2, never fall down, which means that there should no longer
  be a need for watchdog processes to watch carefully.

  This makes slon very much less fragile than it was in earlier
  versions.  This may revise how you want to start it up...  In the
  past, slon processes tended to fall over easily, mandating having
  some form of "watchdog."  The new behaviour points more towards
  "init" / "rc.d"-like handling, where, upon boot-up, one "rc.d" script
  might start up PostgreSQL, another one starts pgpool, and a third
  (which must be invoked after PostgreSQL is started) starts up a
  slon.

- Subscribe set aggressively locks tables on the subscriber to avoid
  failures

  This may become a configurable option so that sites where they
  Really Know What They're Doing and are sure that they won't deadlock
  themselves can leave the tables more open.

  But for most users, it's really preferable to lock the tables down
  on the subscriber so that you don't get 18 hours into subscribing an
  18GB replication set, hit a deadlock, and have to start all over.
  (The slon will automatically try again; the irritation is that you
  may have been depending on that getting done by Monday morning...)

- As has been the case for fairly much each release that has been
  made, the documentation has been significantly extended.  The "admin
  guide" has been augmented and cleaned up.  

  Notable additions include a listing of "Best Practices" (due in
  great part to discoveries by the oft-unsung heroes of Afilias' Data
  Services department) and a fairly comprehensive listing of log
  messages you may expect to see in your Slony-I logs.

- A lot of fixes to the build environment (this needs to be tested on
  lots of platforms)

  One noticeable upshot of this should be that (on Unix-like systems;
  Windows(tm) appears to differ) you oughtn't need to specify a whole
  lot of --with-pg[options] on the ./configure command line. You should
  be able to get most of what's needed simply by specifying the path to
  pg_config via --with-pgconfigdir.

- slon "lag interval" option

  You can tell a node to lag behind by a particular interval of time.

    slon -l "4 hours" [and probably other options :-)] 

  will cause the slon to ignore events until they reach the age
  corresponding to the requested interval.  That way, you can hold a
  node behind by 4 hours.

  This is a potential "foot gun" as there are some cases (MOVE SET,
  FAILOVER) where events have to be coordinated across all nodes with
  near-simultaneity.

- slon "stop after event" option

  You can tell a slon to terminate itself as soon as it receives a
  certain event from a certain node.

  Just as with "lag interval," this could be a bit of a foot gun...

- slon "run program after each log shipped SYNC" option

  You can specify a program to run each time a SYNC event
  is successfully closed off.

- Bug 1538 - if there is only one node, sl_event, sl_log_1 never get
  cleared out

  Logic added to cleanupevent() to clear out old sl_event entries if
  there is just one node.  That then allows the cleanup thread to
  clear sl_log_1 etc.

- Bug 1566 - Force all replication to occur in the ISO datestyle.
  This ensures that we can apply date/timestamps regardless of the
  datestyle they were entered in.

- Force all replication to occur with standards_conforming_strings set
  to off. This ensures we can replicate a node running on 8.2 without
  extra escape chars showing up in the data.
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