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9.24. System Administration Functions

Table 9-54 shows the functions available to query and alter run-time configuration parameters.

Table 9-54. Configuration Settings Functions

Name Return Type Description
current_setting(setting_name) text get current value of setting
set_config(setting_name, new_value, is_local) text set parameter and return new value

The function current_setting yields the current value of the setting setting_name. It corresponds to the SQL command SHOW. An example:

SELECT current_setting('datestyle');

 current_setting
-----------------
 ISO, MDY
(1 row)

set_config sets the parameter setting_name to new_value. If is_local is true, the new value will only apply to the current transaction. If you want the new value to apply for the current session, use false instead. The function corresponds to the SQL command SET. An example:

SELECT set_config('log_statement_stats', 'off', false);

 set_config
------------
 off
(1 row)

The functions shown in Table 9-55 send control signals to other server processes. Use of these functions is restricted to superusers.

Table 9-55. Server Signalling Functions

Name Return Type Description
pg_cancel_backend(pid int) boolean Cancel a backend's current query
pg_terminate_backend(pid int) boolean Terminate a backend
pg_reload_conf() boolean Cause server processes to reload their configuration files
pg_rotate_logfile() boolean Rotate server's log file

Each of these functions returns true if successful and false otherwise.

pg_cancel_backend and pg_terminate_backend send signals (SIGINT or SIGTERM respectively) to backend processes identified by process ID. The process ID of an active backend can be found from the procpid column of the pg_stat_activity view, or by listing the postgres processes on the server (using ps on Unix or the Task Manager on Windows).

pg_reload_conf sends a SIGHUP signal to the server, causing configuration files to be reloaded by all server processes.

pg_rotate_logfile signals the log-file manager to switch to a new output file immediately. This works only when the built-in log collector is running, since otherwise there is no log-file manager subprocess.

The functions shown in Table 9-56 assist in making on-line backups. Use of the first three functions is restricted to superusers.

Table 9-56. Backup Control Functions

Name Return Type Description
pg_start_backup(label text [, fast boolean ]) text Prepare for performing on-line backup
pg_stop_backup() text Finish performing on-line backup
pg_switch_xlog() text Force switch to a new transaction log file
pg_current_xlog_location() text Get current transaction log write location
pg_current_xlog_insert_location() text Get current transaction log insert location
pg_xlogfile_name_offset(location text) text, integer Convert transaction log location string to file name and decimal byte offset within file
pg_xlogfile_name(location text) text Convert transaction log location string to file name

pg_start_backup accepts an arbitrary user-defined label for the backup. (Typically this would be the name under which the backup dump file will be stored.) The function writes a backup label file (backup_label) into the database cluster's data directory, performs a checkpoint, and then returns the backup's starting transaction log location as text. The user can ignore this result value, but it is provided in case it is useful.

postgres=# select pg_start_backup('label_goes_here');
 pg_start_backup
-----------------
 0/D4445B8
(1 row)

There is an optional boolean second parameter. If true, it specifies executing pg_start_backup as quickly as possible. This forces an immediate checkpoint which will cause a spike in I/O operations, slowing any concurrently executing queries.

pg_stop_backup removes the label file created by pg_start_backup, and creates a backup history file in the transaction log archive area. The history file includes the label given to pg_start_backup, the starting and ending transaction log locations for the backup, and the starting and ending times of the backup. The return value is the backup's ending transaction log location (which again can be ignored). After recording the ending location, the current transaction log insertion point is automatically advanced to the next transaction log file, so that the ending transaction log file can be archived immediately to complete the backup.

pg_switch_xlog moves to the next transaction log file, allowing the current file to be archived (assuming you are using continuous archiving). The return value is the ending transaction log location + 1 within the just-completed transaction log file. If there has been no transaction log activity since the last transaction log switch, pg_switch_xlog does nothing and returns the start location of the transaction log file currently in use.

pg_current_xlog_location displays the current transaction log write location in the same format used by the above functions. Similarly, pg_current_xlog_insert_location displays the current transaction log insertion point. The insertion point is the "logical" end of the transaction log at any instant, while the write location is the end of what has actually been written out from the server's internal buffers. The write location is the end of what can be examined from outside the server, and is usually what you want if you are interested in archiving partially-complete transaction log files. The insertion point is made available primarily for server debugging purposes. These are both read-only operations and do not require superuser permissions.

You can use pg_xlogfile_name_offset to extract the corresponding transaction log file name and byte offset from the results of any of the above functions. For example:

postgres=# SELECT * FROM pg_xlogfile_name_offset(pg_stop_backup());
        file_name         | file_offset 
--------------------------+-------------
 00000001000000000000000D |     4039624
(1 row)

Similarly, pg_xlogfile_name extracts just the transaction log file name. When the given transaction log location is exactly at a transaction log file boundary, both these functions return the name of the preceding transaction log file. This is usually the desired behavior for managing transaction log archiving behavior, since the preceding file is the last one that currently needs to be archived.

For details about proper usage of these functions, see Section 24.3.

The functions shown in Table 9-57 calculate the disk space usage of database objects.

Table 9-57. Database Object Size Functions

Name Return Type Description
pg_column_size(any) int Number of bytes used to store a particular value (possibly compressed)
pg_database_size(oid) bigint Disk space used by the database with the specified OID
pg_database_size(name) bigint Disk space used by the database with the specified name
pg_relation_size(relation regclass, fork text) bigint Disk space used by the specified fork ('main', 'fsm' or 'vm') of the table or index with the specified OID or name
pg_relation_size(relation regclass) bigint Shorthand for pg_relation_size(..., 'main')
pg_size_pretty(bigint) text Converts a size in bytes into a human-readable format with size units
pg_tablespace_size(oid) bigint Disk space used by the tablespace with the specified OID
pg_tablespace_size(name) bigint Disk space used by the tablespace with the specified name
pg_total_relation_size(regclass) bigint Total disk space used by the table with the specified OID or name, including indexes and TOAST data

pg_column_size shows the space used to store any individual data value.

pg_database_size and pg_tablespace_size accept the OID or name of a database or tablespace, and return the total disk space used therein. To use pg_database_size, you must have CONNECT permission on the specified database (which is granted by default). To use pg_tablespace_size, you must have CREATE permission on the specified tablespace, unless it is the default tablespace for the current database.

pg_relation_size accepts the OID or name of a table, index or toast table, and returns the size in bytes. Specifying 'main' or leaving out the second argument returns the size of the main data fork of the relation. Specifying 'fsm' returns the size of the Free Space Map (see Section 53.3) associated with the relation. Specifying 'vm' returns the size of the Visibility Map (see Section 53.4) associated with the relation.

pg_size_pretty can be used to format the result of one of the other functions in a human-readable way, using kB, MB, GB or TB as appropriate.

pg_total_relation_size accepts the OID or name of a table or toast table, and returns the size in bytes of the data and all associated indexes and toast tables.

The functions shown in Table 9-58 provide native access to files on the machine hosting the server. Only files within the database cluster directory and the log_directory can be accessed. Use a relative path for files in the cluster directory, and a path matching the log_directory configuration setting for log files. Use of these functions is restricted to superusers.

Table 9-58. Generic File Access Functions

Name Return Type Description
pg_ls_dir(dirname text) setof text List the contents of a directory
pg_read_file(filename text, offset bigint, length bigint) text Return the contents of a text file
pg_stat_file(filename text) record Return information about a file

pg_ls_dir returns all the names in the specified directory, except the special entries "." and "..".

pg_read_file returns part of a text file, starting at the given offset, returning at most length bytes (less if the end of file is reached first). If offset is negative, it is relative to the end of the file.

pg_stat_file returns a record containing the file size, last accessed time stamp, last modified time stamp, last file status change time stamp (Unix platforms only), file creation time stamp (Windows only), and a boolean indicating if it is a directory. Typical usages include:

SELECT * FROM pg_stat_file('filename');
SELECT (pg_stat_file('filename')).modification;

The functions shown in Table 9-59 manage advisory locks. For details about proper use of these functions, see Section 13.3.4.

Table 9-59. Advisory Lock Functions

Name Return Type Description
pg_advisory_lock(key bigint) void Obtain exclusive advisory lock
pg_advisory_lock(key1 int, key2 int) void Obtain exclusive advisory lock
pg_advisory_lock_shared(key bigint) void Obtain shared advisory lock
pg_advisory_lock_shared(key1 int, key2 int) void Obtain shared advisory lock
pg_try_advisory_lock(key bigint) boolean Obtain exclusive advisory lock if available
pg_try_advisory_lock(key1 int, key2 int) boolean Obtain exclusive advisory lock if available
pg_try_advisory_lock_shared(key bigint) boolean Obtain shared advisory lock if available
pg_try_advisory_lock_shared(key1 int, key2 int) boolean Obtain shared advisory lock if available
pg_advisory_unlock(key bigint) boolean Release an exclusive advisory lock
pg_advisory_unlock(key1 int, key2 int) boolean Release an exclusive advisory lock
pg_advisory_unlock_shared(key bigint) boolean Release a shared advisory lock
pg_advisory_unlock_shared(key1 int, key2 int) boolean Release a shared advisory lock
pg_advisory_unlock_all() void Release all advisory locks held by the current session

pg_advisory_lock locks an application-defined resource, which can be identified either by a single 64-bit key value or two 32-bit key values (note that these two key spaces do not overlap). The key type is specified in pg_locks.objid. If another session already holds a lock on the same resource, the function will wait until the resource becomes available. The lock is exclusive. Multiple lock requests stack, so that if the same resource is locked three times it must be also unlocked three times to be released for other sessions' use.

pg_advisory_lock_shared works the same as pg_advisory_lock, except the lock can be shared with other sessions requesting shared locks. Only would-be exclusive lockers are locked out.

pg_try_advisory_lock is similar to pg_advisory_lock, except the function will not wait for the lock to become available. It will either obtain the lock immediately and return true, or return false if the lock cannot be acquired immediately.

pg_try_advisory_lock_shared works the same as pg_try_advisory_lock, except it attempts to acquire a shared rather than an exclusive lock.

pg_advisory_unlock will release a previously-acquired exclusive advisory lock. It returns true if the lock is successfully released. If the lock was not held, it will return false, and in addition, an SQL warning will be raised by the server.

pg_advisory_unlock_shared works the same as pg_advisory_unlock, except it releases a shared advisory lock.

pg_advisory_unlock_all will release all advisory locks held by the current session. (This function is implicitly invoked at session end, even if the client disconnects ungracefully.)

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