Controlling multiple PostgreSQL installations on Debian/Ubuntu

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This applies only to distributions based on Debian.


You need to setup the PostgreSQL Apt Repository Show snapshot first.

If you have multiple Postgres versions installed on a system and want to start/stop/restore/.. them separately you need to use pg_ctlcluster

Usage: /usr/bin/pg_ctlcluster <version> <cluster> <action>

For example

/usr/bin/pg_ctlcluster 47 main start

With systemd you can start/stop the services via:

systemctl <action> postgresql@<version>-<cluster>.service

For example

systemctl start postgresql@14-main.service



The Version of PostgreSQL to manage. Must be installed. ;)


The cluster to use. This is nothing more than a working data directory and a configurationof PostgreSQL stored in the correct location. Usually you find the datadir in /var/lib/postgresql/$VERSION/$CLUSTERNAME and the config in /etc/postgresql/$VERSION/$CLUSTERNAME/.


start | stop | restart | reload

Available versions and clusters, Serverstatus

~# pg_lsclusters
Ver Cluster Port Status Owner    Data directory              Log file
10  main    5433 online postgres /var/lib/postgresql/10/main /var/log/postgresql/postgresql-10-main.log
11  main    5432 online postgres /var/lib/postgresql/11/main /var/log/postgresql/postgresql-11-main.log
12  main    5435 online postgres /var/lib/postgresql/12/main /var/log/postgresql/postgresql-12-main.log
13  main    5434 online postgres /var/lib/postgresql/13/main /var/log/postgresql/postgresql-13-main.log
14  main    5437 online postgres /var/lib/postgresql/14/main /var/log/postgresql/postgresql-14-main.log
15  main    5436 online postgres /var/lib/postgresql/15/main /var/log/postgresql/postgresql-15-main.log
16  main    5438 online postgres /var/lib/postgresql/16/main /var/log/postgresql/postgresql-16-main.log

Creating or deleting clusters


This will run initdb and create an new cluster

# pg_createcluster --locale $LOCALE --start <version> <cluster>
pg_createcluster --locale en_US.UTF-8 --start 16 main


# pg_dropcluster --stop <version> <cluster>
pg_dropcluster --stop 10 main

Managing the default version and cluster with the ~/.postgresqlrc

You can place the file ~/.postgresqlrc in the home directory of the postgres user do decide which PostgreSQL version is used by default. Even the binaries like pg_dump are chosen depending on the version configured in this file.

14 main postgres

Connecting to clusters

The usual commands support the --cluster parameter which you can use to connect to the correct cluster. For e.g.

psql --cluster 14/main
Claus-Theodor Riegg
Last edit
Andreas Vöst
Source code in this card is licensed under the MIT License.