Getting started with PostgreSQL

1. Installation

PostgreSQL is a free/libre and open source object-relational database system. Lots of alternatives exist.

On GNU/Linux, some version of PostgreSQL is probably available as package in your distribution (e.g., sudo apt install postgresql). Other versions can be installed as well.

For other operating systems, please check out the download page.

If you are familiar with Docker, images exist as well (docker pull postgres).

1.1. Notes on Windows

I do not recommend Windows. I recommend GNU/Linux.

I use PostgreSQL via its command line tool psql. On Windows, this needs to be activated manually. (In Windows terminals, executable programs such as psql are located by searching through various directories, in particular those listed in the system environment variable Path.)

Install PostgreSQL as instructed on the download page mentioned above. This asks you for (a) an installation directory and (b) a password for the database user postgres. Remember both.

Add the bin sub-directory with executable files to your Path environment variable so that you can execute them from a terminal: Open the installation directory in an explorer window, change to the bin sub-directory. Copy its location, add it to the Path system environment variable: Open System settings (e.g., right-click on Windows symbol), search for environment (umgebung), change system environment variables, locate system variable “Path”, add a new entry with the copied location.

Open a terminal (WindowsKey+R, then type cmd). Type psql. If that asks you for a password, everything is fine. By default, user postgres exists, with the password you remembered above.

2. First Commands

  • Connect to database as user postgres: psql -U postgres
  • Type help for help, e.g.:
    • \? to see built-in commands (such as \dt)
  • Type SQL commands, ending with “;”, e.g., create table ...; or select * from ... ;
  • To execute SQL instructions stored in a file, e.g., backup.sql, try this:

    psql -U postgres -f backup.sql

License Information

Source files are available on GitLab (check out embedded submodules) under free licenses. Icons of custom controls are by @fontawesome, released under CC BY 4.0.

Except where otherwise noted, the work “Getting started with PostgreSQL”, © 2020, 2022 Jens Lechtenbörger, is published under the Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 4.0.

Created: 2024-07-08 Mon 12:53