PostgreSQL Configuration


Users that are familiar with PostgreSQL are aware of the existence of the following two files to configure an instance:

  • postgresql.conf: main run-time configuration file of PostgreSQL
  • pg_hba.conf: clients authentication file

Due to the concepts of declarative configuration and immutability of the PostgreSQL containers, users are not allowed to directly touch those files. Configuration is possible through the postgresql section of the Cluster resource definition by defining custom postgresql.conf and pg_hba.conf settings via the parameters and the pg_hba keys.

These settings are the same across all instances.


Please don't use the ALTER SYSTEM query to change the configuration of the PostgreSQL instances in an imperative way. Changing some of the options that are normally controlled by the operator might indeed lead to an unpredictable/unrecoverable state of the cluster. Moreover, ALTER SYSTEM changes are not replicated across the cluster.

A reference for custom settings usage is included in the samples, see cluster-example-custom.yaml.


OpenShift users: due to a current limitation of the OpenShift user interface, it is possible to change PostgreSQL settings from the YAML pane only.

The postgresql section

The PostgreSQL instance in the pod starts with a default postgresql.conf file, to which these settings are automatically added:

listen_addresses = '*'
include custom.conf

The custom.conf file will contain the user-defined settings in the postgresql section, as in the following example:

  # ...
      shared_buffers: "1GB"
  # ...
PostgreSQL GUCs: Grand Unified Configuration

Refer to the PostgreSQL documentation for more information on the available parameters, also known as GUC (Grand Unified Configuration).

The content of custom.conf is automatically generated and maintained by the operator by applying the following sections in this order:

  • Global default parameters
  • Default parameters that depend on the PostgreSQL major version
  • User-provided parameters
  • Fixed parameters

The global default parameters are:

logging_collector = 'on'
log_destination = 'csvlog'
log_directory = '/controller/log'
log_filename = 'postgres'
log_rotation_age = '0'
log_rotation_size = '0'
log_truncate_on_rotation = 'false'
max_parallel_workers = '32'
max_replication_slots = '32'
max_worker_processes = '32'

The default parameters for PostgreSQL 13 or higher are:

wal_keep_size = '512MB'

The default parameters for PostgreSQL 10 to 12 are:

wal_keep_segments = '32'

It is your duty to plan for WAL segments retention in your PostgreSQL cluster and properly configure either wal_keep_segments or wal_keep_size, depending on the server version, based on the expected and observed workloads. Until Cloud Native PostgreSQL supports replication slots, and if you don't have continuous backup in place, this is the only way at the moment that protects from the case of a standby falling out of sync and returning error messages like: "could not receive data from WAL stream: ERROR: requested WAL segment ************************ has already been removed". This will require you to dedicate a part of your PGDATA to keep older WAL segments for streaming replication purposes.

The following parameters are fixed and exclusively controlled by the operator:

archive_command = '/controller/manager wal-archive %p'
archive_mode = 'on'
archive_timeout = '5min'
full_page_writes = 'on'
hot_standby = 'true'
listen_addresses = '*'
port = '5432'
ssl = 'on'
ssl_ca_file = '/controller/certificates/client-ca.crt'
ssl_cert_file = '/controller/certificates/server.crt'
ssl_key_file = '/controller/certificates/server.key'
unix_socket_directories = '/var/run/postgresql'
wal_level = 'logical'
wal_log_hints = 'on'

Since the fixed parameters are added at the end, they can't be overridden by the user via the YAML configuration. Those parameters are required for correct WAL archiving and replication.

Replication settings

The primary_conninfo, restore_command, and recovery_target_timeline parameters are managed automatically by the operator according to the state of the instance in the cluster.

primary_conninfo = 'host=cluster-example-rw user=postgres dbname=postgres'
recovery_target_timeline = 'latest'

Log control settings

The operator requires PostgreSQL to output its log in CSV format, and the instance manager automatically parses it and outputs it in JSON format. For this reason, all log settings in PostgreSQL are fixed and cannot be changed.

For further information, please refer to the "Logging" section.

Shared Preload Libraries

The shared_preload_libraries option in PostgreSQL exists to specify one or more shared libraries to be pre-loaded at server start, in the form of a comma-separated list. Typically, it is used in PostgreSQL to load those extensions that need to be available to most database sessions in the whole system (e.g. pg_stat_statements).

In Cloud Native PostgreSQL the shared_preload_libraries option is empty by default. Although you can override the content of shared_preload_libraries, we recommend that only expert Postgres users take advantage of this option.


In case a specified library is not found, the server fails to start, preventing Cloud Native PostgreSQL from any self-healing attempt and requiring manual intervention. Please make sure you always test both the extensions and the settings of shared_preload_libraries if you plan to directly manage its content.

Cloud Native PostgreSQL is able to automatically manage the content of the shared_preload_libraries option for some of the most used PostgreSQL extensions (see the "Managed extensions" section below for details).

Specifically, as soon as the operator notices that a configuration parameter requires one of the managed libraries, it will automatically add the needed library. The operator will also remove the library as soon as no actual parameter requires it.


Please always keep in mind that removing libraries from shared_preload_libraries requires a restart of all instances in the cluster in order to be effective.

You can provide additional shared_preload_libraries via .spec.postgresql.shared_preload_libraries as a list of strings: the operator will merge them with the ones that it automatically manages.

Managed extensions

As anticipated in the previous section, Cloud Native PostgreSQL automatically manages the content in shared_preload_libraries for some well-known and supported extensions. The current list includes:

  • pg_stat_statements
  • pgaudit

Some of these libraries also require additional objects in a database before using them, normally views and/or functions managed via the CREATE EXTENSION command to be run in a database (the DROP EXTENSION command typically removes those objects).

For such libraries, Cloud Native PostgreSQL automatically handles the creation and removal of the extension in all databases that accept a connection in the cluster, identified by the following query:

SELECT datname FROM pg_database WHERE datallowconn

The above query also includes template databases like template1.

Enabling pg_stat_statements

The pg_stat_statements extension is one of the most important capabilities available in PostgreSQL for real-time monitoring of queries.

You can enable pg_stat_statements by adding to the configuration a parameter that starts with pg_stat_statements. as in the following example excerpt:

  # ...
      pg_stat_statements.max: 10000
      pg_stat_statements.track: all
  # ...

As explained previously, the operator will automatically add pg_stat_statements to shared_preload_libraries and run CREATE EXTENSION IF NOT EXISTS pg_stat_statements on each database, enabling you to run queries against the pg_stat_statements view.

Enabling auto_explain

The auto_explain extension provides a means for logging execution plans of slow statements automatically, without having to manually run EXPLAIN (helpful for tracking down un-optimized queries).

You can enable auto_explain by adding to the configuration a parameter that starts with auto_explain. as in the following example excerpt (which automatically logs execution plans of queries that take longer than 10 seconds to complete):

  # ...
      auto_explain.log_min_duration: '10s'
  # ...

The pg_hba section

pg_hba is a list of PostgreSQL Host Based Authentication rules used to create the pg_hba.conf used by the pods.

Since the first matching rule is used for authentication, the pg_hba.conf file generated by the operator can be seen as composed of three sections:

  1. Fixed rules
  2. User-defined rules
  3. Default rules

Fixed rules:

local all all peer

hostssl postgres streaming_replica all cert
hostssl replication streaming_replica all cert

Default rules:

host all all all <default-authentication-method>

From PostgreSQL 14 the default value of the password_encryption database parameter is set to scram-sha-256. Because of that, the default authentication method is scram-sha-256 from this PostgreSQL version.

PostgreSQL 13 and older will use md5 as the default authentication method.

The resulting pg_hba.conf will look like this:

local all all peer

hostssl postgres streaming_replica all cert
hostssl replication streaming_replica all cert

<user defined rules>

host all all all scram-sha-256 # (or md5 for PostgreSQL version <= 13)

Refer to the PostgreSQL documentation for more information on pg_hba.conf.

Changing configuration

You can apply configuration changes by editing the postgresql section of the Cluster resource.

After the change, the cluster instances will immediately reload the configuration to apply the changes. If the change involves a parameter requiring a restart, the operator will perform a rolling upgrade.

Fixed parameters

Some PostgreSQL configuration parameters should be managed exclusively by the operator. The operator prevents the user from setting them using a webhook.

Users are not allowed to set the following configuration parameters in the postgresql section:

  • allow_system_table_mods
  • archive_cleanup_command
  • archive_command
  • archive_mode
  • archive_timeout
  • bonjour
  • bonjour_name
  • cluster_name
  • config_file
  • data_directory
  • data_sync_retry
  • dynamic_shared_memory_type
  • edb_audit
  • edb_audit_destination
  • edb_audit_directory
  • edb_audit_filename
  • edb_audit_rotation_day
  • edb_audit_rotation_seconds
  • edb_audit_rotation_size
  • edb_audit_tag
  • edb_log_every_bulk_value
  • event_source
  • external_pid_file
  • full_page_writes
  • hba_file
  • hot_standby
  • huge_pages
  • ident_file
  • jit_provider
  • listen_addresses
  • log_destination
  • log_directory
  • log_file_mode
  • log_filename
  • log_rotation_age
  • log_rotation_size
  • log_truncate_on_rotation
  • logging_collector
  • port
  • primary_conninfo
  • primary_slot_name
  • promote_trigger_file
  • recovery_end_command
  • recovery_min_apply_delay
  • recovery_target
  • recovery_target_action
  • recovery_target_inclusive
  • recovery_target_lsn
  • recovery_target_name
  • recovery_target_time
  • recovery_target_timeline
  • recovery_target_xid
  • restart_after_crash
  • restore_command
  • shared_memory_type
  • shared_preload_libraries
  • ssl
  • ssl_ca_file
  • ssl_cert_file
  • ssl_ciphers
  • ssl_crl_file
  • ssl_dh_params_file
  • ssl_ecdh_curve
  • ssl_key_file
  • ssl_max_protocol_version
  • ssl_min_protocol_version
  • ssl_passphrase_command
  • ssl_passphrase_command_supports_reload
  • ssl_prefer_server_ciphers
  • stats_temp_directory
  • synchronous_standby_names
  • syslog_facility
  • syslog_ident
  • syslog_sequence_numbers
  • syslog_split_messages
  • unix_socket_directories
  • unix_socket_group
  • unix_socket_permissions
  • wal_level
  • wal_log_hints

Could this page could be better? Report a problem or suggest an addition!