Thursday, March 25, 2010

Slightly disappointed with Percona products

A large part of my to-do list was devoted to the products by Percona, company well-known in the MySQL world. I installed XtraDB engine on our servers and began using Xtrabackup to backup our databases. Not bad, I have to admit. I mean, the servers still work and the backups are made. But I had to solve so many problems that I kept recalling my first days with Linux almost fifteen years ago, when you had to compile everything from sources, manually track dependencies and even then there was only one chance in two that the program will run.

First, I installed XtraDB, MySQL engine which is supposd to cure the long-standing deficiencies of InnoDB. It was not too difficult. I downloaded the sources of XtraDB-1.0.6, tried to compile, failed, found a description of a non-standard (easily explainable, though) installation procedure, copied the sources to the MySQL source tree, replacing the InnoDB engine, tried to compile, found an error, googled for a solution, fixed a bug in handler/, tried to compile, found an error, googled for a solution, fixed a bug in, tried to compile, succeeded, installed and there it is. Easy, right? :)

Next, I wanted to have a look at another product by Percona, Xtrabackup, version 1.0 of which was announced in December 2009. Xtrabackup is to become the main backup solution for MySQL, being the only free tool able to perform online backups. There is more than one link at leading to the sources. Or should I say misleading? Here's one page saying you have to use Bazaar to get the sources. So I did. There were some screens chockfull of error messages, which I tried to quench with a bunch of header files stolen from MySQL source tree, but to no avail. I checked the Percona web-site once again and found another link. This tarball included a whole distribution of MySQL. I tried to compile it as it is. Then, I tried to copy the sources to MySQL sources, strictly following the recommended procedure. Then, I tried to copy the sources to my source tree (with XtraDB substituted for InnoDB, as described above). I admit I almost gave up. In the end, I downloaded a binary version of Xtrabackup, compiled by the authors. It just worked. Well, to a degree...

This package contained Xtrabackup itself and a Perl script called Innobackupex. The problem with Xtrabackup is that it does not support anything but InnoDB (and XtraDB). Fortunately, MyISAM tables can be just copied as files, and Innobackupex does exactly this. Unfortunately, Innobackupex does this only when making full backups. Incremental backups only include InnoDB tables.

This problem was easy to fix, but there was another. Innobackupex does not support the option --incremental-basedir specifying the last full backup. The reference point for the incremental backup is defined as the earliest directory. So, I had to add support for this option to the script manually.

So, to sum it up, the number of problems I met in Percona products is unusually high. Or is it normal for a company that makes money solving users' problems? :)


  1. Dmitri,

    Would you mind reporting the bugs you have discovered and appropriately we compile and test them on number of platforms, however it is possible it does not compile on different platforms or with different compiler version.

  2. Peter,

    Thanks for noting this post. Most of those bugs are already described (and solved) on Launchpad. A couple of patches for innobackupex I have already submitted, too. As for the problems with the compilation of Xtrabackup, I've got no chutzpah to go through this process once again :). I am sure that the installation procedure will be tested better in the upcoming versions, but in 1.0 the edges were still slightly rougher than they should be in a major release.

    Actually, once installed, Xtrabackup works pretty well, so thank you for the solution of this old problem.