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Chapter 3. Getting Started

How to begin work with Postgres for a new user.

Some of the steps required to use Postgres can be performed by any Postgres user, and some must be done by the site database administrator. This site administrator is the person who installed the software, created the database directories and started the postmaster process. This person does not have to be the Unix superuser ("root") or the computer system administrator; a person can install and use Postgres without any special accounts or privileges.

If you are installing Postgres yourself, then refer to the Administrator's Guide for instructions on installation, and return to this guide when the installation is complete.

Throughout this manual, any examples that begin with the character "%" are commands that should be typed at the Unix shell prompt. Examples that begin with the character "*" are commands in the Postgres query language, Postgres SQL.

3.1. Setting Up Your Environment

This section discusses how to set up your own environment so that you can use frontend applications. We assume Postgres has already been successfully installed and started; refer to the Administrator's Guide and the installation notes for how to install Postgres.

Postgres is a client/server application. As a user, you only need access to the client portions of the installation (an example of a client application is the interactive monitor psql). For simplicity, we will assume that Postgres has been installed in the directory /usr/local/pgsql. Therefore, wherever you see the directory /usr/local/pgsql you should substitute the name of the directory where Postgres is actually installed. All Postgres commands are installed in the directory /usr/local/pgsql/bin. Therefore, you should add this directory to your shell command path. If you use a variant of the Berkeley C shell, such as csh or tcsh, you would add

% set path = ( /usr/local/pgsql/bin path )
in the .login file in your home directory. If you use a variant of the Bourne shell, such as sh, ksh, or bash, then you would add
% PATH=/usr/local/pgsql/bin:$PATH
% export PATH
to the .profile file in your home directory. From now on, we will assume that you have added the Postgres bin directory to your path. In addition, we will make frequent reference to "setting a shell variable" or "setting an environment variable" throughout this document. If you did not fully understand the last paragraph on modifying your search path, you should consult the Unix manual pages that describe your shell before going any further.

If your site administrator has not set things up in the default way, you may have some more work to do. For example, if the database server machine is a remote machine, you will need to set the PGHOST environment variable to the name of the database server machine. The environment variable PGPORT may also have to be set. The bottom line is this: if you try to start an application program and it complains that it cannot connect to the postmaster, you should immediately consult your site administrator to make sure that your environment is properly set up.