There are many new features and improvements in this release. Here is a brief, incomplete summary:
Many new SQL features, including full SQL92 subselect capability (everything is here but target-list subselects).
Support for client-side environment variables to specify time zone and date style.
Socket interface for client/server connection. This is the default now so you may need to start postmaster with the -i flag.
Better password authorization mechanisms. Default table permissions have changed.
Old-style time travel has been removed. Performance has been improved.
Note: Bruce Momjian wrote the following notes to introduce the new release.
There are some general 6.3 issues that I want to mention. These are only the big items that can not be described in one sentence. A review of the detailed changes list is still needed.
First, we now have subselects. Now that we have them, I would like to mention that without subselects, SQL is a very limited language. Subselects are a major feature, and you should review your code for places where subselects provide a better solution for your queries. I think you will find that there are more uses for subselects than you may think. Vadim has put us on the big SQL map with subselects, and fully functional ones too. The only thing you can't do with subselects is to use them in the target list.
Second, 6.3 uses unix domain sockets rather than TCP/IP by default. To enable connections from other machines, you have to use the new postmaster -i option, and of course edit pg_hba.conf. Also, for this reason, the format of pg_hba.conf has changed.
Third, char() fields will now allow faster access than varchar() or text. Specifically, the text and varchar() have a penalty for access to any columns after the first column of this type. char() used to also have this access penalty, but it no longer does. This may suggest that you redesign some of your tables, especially if you have short character columns that you have defined as varchar() or text. This and other changes make 6.3 even faster than earlier releases.
We now have passwords definable independent of any Unix file. There are new SQL USER commands. See the pg_hba.conf manual page for more information. There is a new table, pg_shadow, which is used to store user information and user passwords, and it by default only SELECT-able by the postgres super-user. pg_user is now a view of pg_shadow, and is SELECT-able by PUBLIC. You should keep using pg_user in your application without changes.
User-created tables now no longer have SELECT permission to PUBLIC by default. This was done because the ANSI standard requires it. You can of course GRANT any permissions you want after the table is created. System tables continue to be SELECT-able by PUBLIC.
We also have real deadlock detection code. No more sixty-second timeouts. And the new locking code implements a FIFO better, so there should be less resource starvation during heavy use.
Many complaints have been made about inadequate documenation in previous releases. Thomas has put much effort into many new manuals for this release. Check out the doc/ directory.
For performance reasons, time travel is gone, but can be implemented using triggers (see pgsql/contrib/spi/README). Please check out the new \d command for types, operators, etc. Also, views have their own permissions now, not based on the underlying tables, so permissions on them have to be set separately. Check /pgsql/interfaces for some new ways to talk to Postgres.
This is the first release that really required an explanation for existing users. In many ways, this was necessary because the new release removes many limitations, and the work-arounds people were using are no longer needed.
A dump/restore using pg_dump or pg_dumpall is required for those wishing to migrate data from any previous release of Postgres.
Bug Fixes --------- Fix binary cursors broken by MOVE implementation(Vadim) Fix for tcl library crash(Jan) Fix for array handling, from Gerhard Hintermayer Fix acl error, and remove duplicate pqtrace(Bruce) Fix psql \e for empty file(Bruce) Fix for textcat on varchar() fields(Bruce) Fix for DBT Sendproc (Zeugswetter Andres) Fix vacuum analyze syntax problem(Bruce) Fix for international identifiers(Tatsuo) Fix aggregates on inherited tables(Bruce) Fix substr() for out-of-bounds data Fix for select 1=1 or 2=2, select 1=1 and 2=2, and select sum(2+2)(Bruce) Fix notty output to show status result. -q option still turns it off(Bruce) Fix for count(*), aggs with views and multiple tables and sum(3)(Bruce) Fix cluster(Bruce) Fix for PQtrace start/stop several times(Bruce) Fix a variety of locking problems like newer lock waiters getting lock before older waiters, and having readlock people not share locks if a writer is waiting for a lock, and waiting writers not getting priority over waiting readers(Bruce) Fix crashes in psql when executing queries from external files(James) Fix problem with multiple order by columns, with the first one having NULL values(Jeroen) Use correct hash table support functions for float8 and int4(Thomas) Re-enable JOIN= option in CREATE OPERATOR statement (Thomas) Change precedence for boolean operators to match expected behavior(Thomas) Generate elog(ERROR) on over-large integer(Bruce) Allow multiple-argument functions in constraint clauses(Thomas) Check boolean input literals for 'true','false','yes','no','1','0' and throw elog(ERROR) if unrecognized(Thomas) Major large objects fix Fix for GROUP BY showing duplicates(Vadim) Fix for index scans in MergeJion(Vadim) Enhancements ------------ Subselects with EXISTS, IN, ALL, ANY keywords (Vadim, Bruce, Thomas) New User Manual(Thomas, others) Speedup by inlining some frequently-called functions Real deadlock detection, no more timeouts(Bruce) Add SQL92 "constants" CURRENT_DATE, CURRENT_TIME, CURRENT_TIMESTAMP, CURRENT_USER(Thomas) Modify constraint syntax to be SQL92-compliant(Thomas) Implement SQL92 PRIMARY KEY and UNIQUE clauses using indices(Thomas) Recognize SQL92 syntax for FOREIGN KEY. Throw elog notice(Thomas) Allow NOT NULL UNIQUE constraint clause (each allowed separately before)(Thomas) Allow Postgres-style casting ("::") of non-constants(Thomas) Add support for SQL3 TRUE and FALSE boolean constants(Thomas) Support SQL92 syntax for IS TRUE/IS FALSE/IS NOT TRUE/IS NOT FALSE(Thomas) Allow shorter strings for boolean literals (e.g. "t", "tr", "tru")(Thomas) Allow SQL92 delimited identifiers(Thomas) Implement SQL92 binary and hexadecimal string decoding (b'10' and x'1F')(Thomas) Support SQL92 syntax for type coercion of literal strings (e.g. "DATETIME 'now'")(Thomas) Add conversions for int2, int4, and OID types to and from text(Thomas) Use shared lock when building indices(Vadim) Free memory allocated for an user query inside transaction block after this query is done, was turned off in <= 6.2.1(Vadim) New SQL statement CREATE PROCEDURAL LANGUAGE(Jan) New Postgres Procedural Language (PL) backend interface(Jan) Rename pg_dump -H option to -h(Bruce) Add Java support for passwords, European dates(Peter) Use indices for LIKE and ~, !~ operations(Bruce) Add hash functions for datetime and timespan(Thomas) Time Travel removed(Vadim, Bruce) Add paging for \d and \z, and fix \i(Bruce) Add Unix domain socket support to backend and to frontend library(Goran) Implement CREATE DATABASE/WITH LOCATION and initlocation utility(Thomas) Allow more SQL92 and/or Postgres reserved words as column identifiers(Thomas) Augment support for SQL92 SET TIME ZONE...(Thomas) SET/SHOW/RESET TIME ZONE uses TZ backend environment variable(Thomas) Implement SET keyword = DEFAULT and SET TIME ZONE DEFAULT(Thomas) Enable SET TIME ZONE using TZ environment variable(Thomas) Add PGDATESTYLE environment variable to frontend and backend initialization(Thomas) Add PGTZ, PGCOSTHEAP, PGCOSTINDEX, PGRPLANS, PGGEQO frontend library initialization environment variables(Thomas) Regression tests time zone automatically set with "setenv PGTZ PST8PDT"(Thomas) Add pg_description table for info on tables, columns, operators, types, and aggregates(Bruce) Increase 16 char limit on system table/index names to 32 characters(Bruce) Rename system indices(Bruce) Add 'GERMAN' option to SET DATESTYLE(Thomas) Define an "ISO-style" timespan output format with "hh:mm:ss" fields(Thomas) Allow fractional values for delta times (e.g. '2.5 days')(Thomas) Validate numeric input more carefully for delta times(Thomas) Implement day of year as possible input to date_part()(Thomas) Define timespan_finite() and text_timespan() functions(Thomas) Remove archive stuff(Bruce) Allow for a pg_password authentication database that is separate from the system password file(Todd) Dump ACLs, GRANT, REVOKE permissions(Matt) Define text, varchar, and bpchar string length functions(Thomas) Fix Query handling for inheritance, and cost computations(Bruce) Implement CREATE TABLE/AS SELECT (alternative to SELECT/INTO)(Thomas) Allow NOT, IS NULL, IS NOT NULL in constraints(Thomas) Implement UNIONs for SELECT(Bruce) Add UNION, GROUP, DISTINCT to INSERT(Bruce) varchar() stores only necessary bytes on disk(Bruce) Fix for BLOBs(Peter) Mega-Patch for JDBC...see README_6.3 for list of changes(Peter) Remove unused "option" from PQconnectdb() New LOCK command and lock manual page describing deadlocks(Bruce) Add new psql \da, \dd, \df, \do, \dS, and \dT commands(Bruce) Enhance psql \z to show sequences(Bruce) Show NOT NULL and DEFAULT in psql \d table(Bruce) New psql .psqlrc file startup(Andrew) Modify sample startup script in contrib/linux to show syslog(Thomas) New types for IP and MAC addresses in contrib/ip_and_mac(TomH) Unix system time conversions with date/time types in contrib/unixdate(Thomas) Update of contrib stuff(Massimo) Add Unix socket support to DBD::Pg(Goran) New python interface (PyGreSQL 2.0)(D'Arcy) New frontend/backend protocol has a version number, network byte order(Phil) Security features in pg_hba.conf enhanced and documented, many cleanups(Phil) CHAR() now faster access than VARCHAR() or TEXT ecpg embedded SQL preprocessor Reduce system column overhead(Vadmin) Remove pg_time table(Vadim) Add pg_type attribute to identify types that need length (bpchar, varchar) Add report of offending line when COPY command fails Allow VIEW permissions to be set separately from the underlying tables. For security, use GRANT/REVOKE on views as appropriate(Jan) Tables now have no default GRANT SELECT TO PUBLIC. You must explicitly grant such permissions. Clean up tutorial examples(Darren) Source Tree Changes ------------------- Add new html development tools, and flow chart in /tools/backend Fix for SCO compiles Stratus computer port Robert Gillies Added support for shlib for BSD44_derived & i386_solaris Make configure more automated(Brook) Add script to check regression test results Break parser functions into smaller files, group together(Bruce) Rename heap_create to heap_create_and_catalog, rename heap_creatr to heap_create()(Bruce) Sparc/Linux patch for locking(TomS) Remove PORTNAME and reorganize port-specific stuff(Marc) Add optimizer README file(Bruce) Remove some recursion in optimizer and clean up some code there(Bruce) Fix for NetBSD locking(Henry) Fix for libptcl make(Tatsuo) AIX patch(Darren) Change IS TRUE, IS FALSE, ... to expressions using "=" rather than function calls to istrue() or isfalse() to allow optimization(Thomas) Various fixes NetBSD/Sparc related(TomH) Alpha linux locking(Travis,Ryan) Change elog(WARN) to elog(ERROR)(Bruce) FAQ for FreeBSD(Marc) Bring in the PostODBC source tree as part of our standard distribution(Marc) A minor patch for HP/UX 10 vs 9(Stan) New pg_attribute.atttypmod for type-specific info like varchar length(Bruce) Unixware patches(Billy) New i386 'lock' for spin lock asm(Billy) Support for multiplexed backends is removed Start an OpenBSD port Start an AUX port Start a Cygnus port Add string functions to regression suite(Thomas) Expand a few function names formerly truncated to 16 characters(Thomas) Remove un-needed malloc() calls and replace with palloc()(Bruce)