Before you can do anything, you must initialize a database storage area on disk. We call this a database cluster. (SQL speaks of a catalog cluster instead.) A database cluster is a collection of databases that will be accessible through a single instance of a running database server. After initialization, a database cluster will contain one database named template1. As the name suggests, this will be used as a template for subsequently created databases; it should not be used for actual work.
In file system terms, a database cluster will be a single
directory under which all data will be stored. We call this the
data directory or data area. It is completely up to you where you
choose to store your data. There is no default, although
locations such as /usr/local/pgsql/data
or /var/lib/pgsql/data are popular. To
initialize a database cluster, use the command initdb, which is installed with PostgreSQL. The desired file system location
of your database system is indicated by the
-D option, for example
$ initdb -D /usr/local/pgsql/data
Note that you must execute this command while being logged into the PostgreSQL user account, which is described in the previous section.
initdb will attempt to create the directory you specify if it does not already exist. It is likely that it won't have the permission to do so (if you followed our advice and created an unprivileged account). In that case you should create the directory yourself (as root) and transfer ownership of it to the PostgreSQL user account. Here is how this might work:
root# mkdir /usr/local/pgsql/data root# chown postgres /usr/local/pgsql/data root# su postgres postgres$ initdb -D /usr/local/pgsql/data
initdb will refuse to run if the data directory looks like it belongs to an already initialized installation.
Because the data directory contains all the data stored in the database, it is essential that it be well secured from unauthorized access. initdb therefore revokes access permissions from everyone but the PostgreSQL user account.
However, while the directory contents are secure, the default
pg_hba.conf authentication method of
trust allows any local user to connect
to the database and even become the database superuser. If you
don't trust other local users, we recommend you use initdb's option
--pwprompt to assign a password to
the database superuser. After initdb,
modify pg_hba.conf to use md5 or password, instead
of trust, authentication before you start the server for the
first time. (Other, possibly more convenient approaches include
using ident authentication or file
system permissions to restrict connections. See Chapter 4 for more
NOTICE: Initializing database with en_US collation order. This locale setting will prevent use of index optimization for LIKE and regexp searches. If you are concerned about speed of such queries, you may wish to set LC_COLLATE to "C" and re-initdb. For more information see the Administrator's Guide.
This notice is intended to warn you that the currently selected locale will cause indexes to be sorted in an order that prevents them from being used for LIKE and regular-expression searches. If you need good performance of such searches, you should set your current locale to C and re-run initdb. On most systems, setting the current locale is done by changing the value of the environment variable LC_ALL or LANG. The sort order used within a particular database cluster is set by initdb and cannot be changed later, short of dumping all data, rerunning initdb, and reloading the data. So it's important to make this choice correctly now.