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20.2. Role Attributes

A database role can have a number of attributes that define its privileges and interact with the client authentication system.

login privilege

Only roles that have the LOGIN attribute can be used as the initial role name for a database connection. A role with the LOGIN attribute can be considered the same as a "database user". To create a role with login privilege, use either:


(CREATE USER is equivalent to CREATE ROLE except that CREATE USER assumes LOGIN by default, while CREATE ROLE does not.)

superuser status

A database superuser bypasses all permission checks, except the right to log in. This is a dangerous privilege and should not be used carelessly; it is best to do most of your work as a role that is not a superuser. To create a new database superuser, use CREATE ROLE name SUPERUSER. You must do this as a role that is already a superuser.

database creation

A role must be explicitly given permission to create databases (except for superusers, since those bypass all permission checks). To create such a role, use CREATE ROLE name CREATEDB.

role creation

A role must be explicitly given permission to create more roles (except for superusers, since those bypass all permission checks). To create such a role, use CREATE ROLE name CREATEROLE. A role with CREATEROLE privilege can alter and drop other roles, too, as well as grant or revoke membership in them. However, to create, alter, drop, or change membership of a superuser role, superuser status is required; CREATEROLE is insufficient for that.

initiating replication

A role must explicitly be given permission to initiate streaming replication (except for superusers, since those bypass all permission checks). A role used for streaming replication must have LOGIN permission as well. To create such a role, use CREATE ROLE name REPLICATION LOGIN.


A password is only significant if the client authentication method requires the user to supply a password when connecting to the database. The password and md5 authentication methods make use of passwords. Database passwords are separate from operating system passwords. Specify a password upon role creation with CREATE ROLE name PASSWORD 'string'.

A role's attributes can be modified after creation with ALTER ROLE. See the reference pages for the CREATE ROLE and ALTER ROLE commands for details.

Tip: It is good practice to create a role that has the CREATEDB and CREATEROLE privileges, but is not a superuser, and then use this role for all routine management of databases and roles. This approach avoids the dangers of operating as a superuser for tasks that do not really require it.

A role can also have role-specific defaults for many of the run-time configuration settings described in Chapter 18. For example, if for some reason you want to disable index scans (hint: not a good idea) anytime you connect, you can use:

ALTER ROLE myname SET enable_indexscan TO off;

This will save the setting (but not set it immediately). In subsequent connections by this role it will appear as though SET enable_indexscan TO off had been executed just before the session started. You can still alter this setting during the session; it will only be the default. To remove a role-specific default setting, use ALTER ROLE rolename RESET varname. Note that role-specific defaults attached to roles without LOGIN privilege are fairly useless, since they will never be invoked.