OmniPITR - how to setup.


Following documentation walks you through installation, setup and running of master-slave replication of PostgreSQL database using WAL segment files (also known as PiTR Replication.

It will also cover methods of making backups, both from master and slave servers, and methods for monitoring replication status.


Following document provides information about setting replication/backup scenario, on 3 machines, with following responsibilities:

  • master server - server (both hardware and software) that contains the working, writable PostgreSQL instance

  • slave server - server (both hardware and software) that contains secondary, warm or hot standby server. With PostgreSQL pre 9.0 it's not readable, but from 9.0 you can send read-only queries to it.

  • backup server - additional machine that is being used as storage for backup files - both full-database backups and/or backup of currently generated xlog files (WAL segments)

Before setting replication it is required that you have PostgreSQL installed on both master and slave servers, and working PostgreSQL cluster on master.

Paths should be the same on master and slave - at least to data directory.

For the purpose of example, I assume following paths on each servers - you are in no way obliged to use the same paths - these are just explanations if something wouldn't be clear from examples later on:

Master server paths

  • /home/postgres - home directory of postgres user - user that is used to run PostgreSQL

  • /home/postgres/data - data directory for PostgreSQL

  • /home/postgres/data/postgresql.conf - PostgreSQL configuration file for master

  • /var/tmp - temporary directory that can be freely used

Slave server paths

  • /home/postgres - home directory of postgres user - user that is used to run PostgreSQL

  • /var/tmp - temporary directory that can be freely used

Backup server paths

  • /var/backups - backups directory - all backups should arrive in here.

Also I assume that PostgreSQL itself, and OmniPITR programs work from postgres system account.


To make everything working we need a way to copy files from master to slave and backup, and from slave to backup.

Since OmniPITR is using RSync for all transfers, we can effectively use two ways of communication:

  • rsync over ssh

  • direct rsync

First method is usually easier to setup - as you most likely have ssh daemon on all machines, so it is enough to install rsync program, and you're virtually good to go.

Second method is a bit more complex, as you need additinally to setup rsync daemon, but it pays off in increased security, faster transfers and less resource-intensive work. The biggest drawback is that data being sent are not encrypted. Which might, or might not be an issue, depending on distance, and trust for connection - i.e. using encrypted vpn and then plain rsync is (in my opinion) favorable over rsync-over-ssh, due to extra security steps we can have when using rsync as daemon.

In any way, we need to make some extra directories (all this directories should be writable by postgres user, preferably also owned by it):

  • On master server:

    • /home/postgres/omnipitr - this is where omnipitr will store it's internal datafiles (rather small)

    • /home/postgres/omnipitr/log - place for omnipitr log

    • /home/postgres/omnipitr/state - place for omnipitr state files

    • /var/tmp/omnipitr - place for temporary files (larger) created and used by omnipitr

  • On slave server:

    • /home/postgres/wal_archive - this is where master will send xlog segments to be used for replication

    • /home/postgres/omnipitr - this is where omnipitr will store it's internal datafiles (rather small)

    • /home/postgres/omnipitr/log - place for omnipitr log

    • /home/postgres/omnipitr/state - place for omnipitr state files

    • /var/tmp/omnipitr - place for temporary files (larger) created and used by omnipitr

  • On backup server:

    • /var/backups/database - top level directory for database backups

    • /var/backups/database/hot_backup - directory to put hot backup files in

    • /var/backups/database/xlog - directory to put xlog segments in

And then we need to allow uploads to them.

For this - you'd rather consult your sysadmins. For the sake of this document, I assume that the chosen method was direct rsync, and we have working following rsync paths:

  • rsync://slave/wal_archive/ - points to /home/postgres/wal_archive/, with write access for master, without password

  • rsync://backup/database/ - points to /var/backups/database, with write access for master and slave, without password


On both master and slave machines, please install omnipitr to /opt/omnipitr directory, for example using:

$ svn co /opt/omnipitr

Now, on both machines, check if the installation is OK, that is run sanity check:

$ /opt/omnipitr/bin/
- /opt/omnipitr/bin
- /opt/omnipitr/lib
5 programs, 9 libraries.
All checked, and looks ok.

if there are any errors/warnings - do whatever you can to fix them.

Now. If this works well, we can move on to setting up all subsequent steps.

Archival of XLOGs from master

In /home/postgres/data/postgresql.conf find section "WRITE AHEAD LOG" -> "Archiving". Usually it contains lines like these:

#archive_mode = off    # allows archiving to be done
#archive_command = ''  # command to use to archive a logfile segment
#archive_timeout = 0   # force a logfile segment switch after this

You need to enable archive_mode:

archive_mode = on

(in older versions ( pre 8.2 ) there is no archive_mode. It's ok - just don't add it).

Set archive_command to:

archive_command = '/opt/omnipitr/bin/omnipitr-archive -l /home/postgres/omnipitr/log/omnipitr-^Y^m^d.log -s /home/postgres/omnipitr/state -dr gzip=rsync://slave/wal_archive/ -dr gzip=rsync://backup/database/xlog/ -db /var/tmp/omnipitr/dstbackup -t /var/tmp/omnipitr/ -v "%p"'

and archive_timeout to:

archive_timeout = 60

This will make sure that in worst case you have 1 minute lag.

Meaning of options:

  • -l /home/postgres/omnipitr/log/omnipitr-^Y^m^d.log : Path to logfile, will be automatically rotated on date change.

  • -s /home/postgres/omnipitr/state : Directory to keep state information, internal stuff, not really interesting, small files only, but it is required if we have more than 1 destination

  • -dr gzip=rsync://slave/wal_archive/ : sends gzip compressed wal segments to slave to appropriate path

  • -dr gzip=rsync://backup/database/xlog/ : sends the same gzip compressed wal segments to backup server for long term storage

  • -db /var/tmp/omnipitr/dstbackup : it is important that this path shouldn't exist - it's a directory, that (if it exists) will be used as additional local destination - for the purposes of omnipitr-backup-master program

  • -t /var/tmp/omnipitr/ : where to keep temporary files (when needed)

  • -v : log verbose information - mostly timings.

Afterwards you need to restart PostgreSQL (or reload if you changed only archive_command and/or archive_timeout).

Archiving should work nicely now, which you can see after couple of minutes (assuming you set archive_timeout to 60 seconds, like I showed above).

You should start seeing compressed files showing on slave and backup servers, and appropriate information in logfile.

Creation of hot backup on master

This is actually pretty simple - assuming you have working archiving (described in previous section of this howto.

You simply run this command:

/opt/omnipitr/bin/omnipitr-backup-master -D /home/postgres/data -l /home/postgres/omnipitr/log/omnipitr-^Y^m^d.log -x /var/tmp/omnipitr/dstbackup -dr gzip=rsync://backup/database/hot_backup/ -t /var/tmp/omnipitr/ --pid-file /home/postgres/omnipitr/ -v

Meaning of options:

  • -D /home/postgres/data : Where is data directory for PostgreSQL instance

  • -l /home/postgres/omnipitr/log/omnipitr-^Y^m^d.log : Where to log information - logfile will be daily rotated. Logfile can be shared between OmniPITR programs as each line contains identifier of program that wrote it

  • -x /var/tmp/omnipitr/dstbackup : Should be the same path as in -db option to omnipitr-archive, and it shouldn't exist - omnipitr-backup-master will create it, and later on remove.

  • -dr gzip=rsync://backup/database/hot_backup/ : Will send gzip compressed backups to backup server to appropriate directory.

  • -t /var/tmp/omnipitr/ : Where to create temporary files

  • --pid-file /home/postgres/omnipitr/ : When running manually, it's not needed, but when the same command will be put in cronjob - it's nice to be sure that only 1 backup can run at the same time

  • -v : Log verbosely - mostly add timings.

After running, on backup server you will get 2 files:

  • master-data-YYYY-MM-DD.tar.gz

  • master-xlog-YYYY-MM-DD.tar.gz

which together form backup for master database.

Starting up slave

First you need to obtain master-data backup file from backup server. Xlog file is only used if you want to start the server as fully working r/w server and not replication slave.

So, get the .tar.gz file to /home/postgres, and uncompress it.

It will create /home/postgres/data directory which contains copy of PostgreSQL files from master.

Now, edit /home/postgres/data/postgresql.conf (this, like any other file mentioned in this section - on slave), and change archive_command to:

archive_command = '/bin/true'

To make sure that slave will not try to archive xlog files.

Afterwards, in /home/postgres/data directory make recovery.conf file with single line:

restore_command = ' /opt/omnipitr/bin/omnipitr-restore -l /var/tmp/omnipitr-^Y^m^d.log -s gzip=/home/postgres/wal_archive -f /home/postgres/omnipitr/finish.recovery -r -p /home/postgres/omnipitr/pause.removal -v -t /var/tmp/omnipitr/ -w 900 %f %p'

Meaning of options:

  • -l /var/tmp/omnipitr-^Y^m^d.log : Where to log information - logfile will be daily rotated. Logfile can be shared between OmniPITR programs as each line contains identifier of program that wrote it

  • -s gzip=/home/postgres/wal_archive : Where to find xlog segments sent in from master, and how are they compressed

  • -f /home/postgres/omnipitr/finish.recovery : Trigger file - if it will exist - recovery will be stopped.

  • -r : remove no longer needed xlog segments - it's a bit more tricky than 'segments that have been already applied', but we can be sure it's safe operation - even in cases like stopping slave recovery for days.

  • -p /home/postgres/omnipitr/pause.removal : trigger file - if it exists - segments will no longer be removed when no longer needed - this is useful for omnipitr-backup-slave

  • -v : log verbosely

  • -t /var/tmp/omnipitr/ : where to create temporary files, if needed.

  • -w 900 : wait 15 minutes between xlog arrival and application - this is to be able to stop recovery in case of catastrophic query being run on master (think: truncate table users)

Afterwards - just start PostgreSQL on slave, and check generated logs for information about progress, but everything should be working just fine now.

The OmniPITR project is Copyright (c) 2009-2010 OmniTI. All rights reserved.