INITDB(1) PostgreSQL Server Applications INITDB(1)
initdb - create a new PostgreSQL database cluster
initdb [ option... ] [ --pgdata ] [ -D ] directory
initdb creates a new PostgreSQL database cluster. A database cluster is a collection of databases that are managed by a single server
Creating a database cluster consists of creating the directories in which the database data will live, generating the shared catalog tables
(tables that belong to the whole cluster rather than to any particular database), and creating the template1 and postgres databases. When
you later create a new database, everything in the template1 database is copied. (Therefore, anything installed in template1 is automati-
cally copied into each database created later.) The postgres database is a default database meant for use by users, utilities and third
Although initdb will attempt to create the specified data directory, it might not have permission if the parent directory of the desired
data directory is root-owned. To initialize in such a setup, create an empty data directory as root, then use chown to assign ownership of
that directory to the database user account, then su to become the database user to run initdb.
initdb must be run as the user that will own the server process, because the server needs to have access to the files and directories that
initdb creates. Since the server cannot be run as root, you must not run initdb as root either. (It will in fact refuse to do so.)
initdb initializes the database cluster's default locale and character set encoding. The character set encoding, collation order (LC_COL-
LATE) and character set classes (LC_CTYPE, e.g. upper, lower, digit) can be set separately for a database when it is created. initdb deter-
mines those settings for the template1 database, which will serve as the default for all other databases.
To alter the default collation order or character set classes, use the --lc-collate and --lc-ctype options. Collation orders other than C
or POSIX also have a performance penalty. For these reasons it is important to choose the right locale when running initdb.
The remaining locale categories can be changed later when the server is started. You can also use --locale to set the default for all
locale categories, including collation order and character set classes. All server locale values (lc_*) can be displayed via SHOW ALL.
More details can be found in in the documentation.
To alter the default encoding, use the --encoding. More details can be found in in the documentation.
This option specifies the authentication method for local users used in pg_hba.conf. Do not use trust unless you trust all local
users on your system. Trust is the default for ease of installation.
This option specifies the directory where the database cluster should be stored. This is the only information required by initdb,
but you can avoid writing it by setting the PGDATA environment variable, which can be convenient since the database server (post-
gres) can find the database directory later by the same variable.
Selects the encoding of the template database. This will also be the default encoding of any database you create later, unless you
override it there. The default is derived from the locale, or SQL_ASCII if that does not work. The character sets supported by the
PostgreSQL server are described in in the documentation.
Sets the default locale for the database cluster. If this option is not specified, the locale is inherited from the environment that
initdb runs in. Locale support is described in in the documentation.
Like --locale, but only sets the locale in the specified category.
This option specifies the directory where the transaction log should be stored.
Selects the user name of the database superuser. This defaults to the name of the effective user running initdb. It is really not
important what the superuser's name is, but one might choose to keep the customary name postgres, even if the operating system
user's name is different.
Makes initdb prompt for a password to give the database superuser. If you don't plan on using password authentication, this is not
important. Otherwise you won't be able to use password authentication until you have a password set up.
Makes initdb read the database superuser's password from a file. The first line of the file is taken as the password.
Other, less commonly used, parameters are also available:
Print debugging output from the bootstrap backend and a few other messages of lesser interest for the general public. The bootstrap
backend is the program initdb uses to create the catalog tables. This option generates a tremendous amount of extremely boring out-
Specifies where initdb should find its input files to initialize the database cluster. This is normally not necessary. You will be
told if you need to specify their location explicitly.
By default, when initdb determines that an error prevented it from completely creating the database cluster, it removes any files it
might have created before discovering that it cannot finish the job. This option inhibits tidying-up and is thus useful for debug-
PGDATA Specifies the directory where the database cluster is to be stored; can be overridden using the -D option.
This utility, like most other PostgreSQL utilities, also uses the environment variables supported by libpq (see in the documentation).
Application 2010-05-14 INITDB(1)