Chapter 21. Client Authentication

Table of Contents

21.1. The pg_hba.conf File
21.2. User Name Maps
21.3. Authentication Methods
21.4. Trust Authentication
21.5. Password Authentication
21.6. GSSAPI Authentication
21.7. SSPI Authentication
21.8. Ident Authentication
21.9. Peer Authentication
21.10. LDAP Authentication
21.11. RADIUS Authentication
21.12. Certificate Authentication
21.13. PAM Authentication
21.14. BSD Authentication
21.15. Authentication Problems

When a client application connects to the database server, it specifies which PostgreSQL database user name it wants to connect as, much the same way one logs into a Unix computer as a particular user. Within the SQL environment the active database user name determines access privileges to database objects — see Chapter 22 for more information. Therefore, it is essential to restrict which database users can connect.


As explained in Chapter 22, PostgreSQL actually does privilege management in terms of roles. In this chapter, we consistently use database user to mean role with the LOGIN privilege.

Authentication is the process by which the database server establishes the identity of the client, and by extension determines whether the client application (or the user who runs the client application) is permitted to connect with the database user name that was requested.

PostgreSQL offers a number of different client authentication methods. The method used to authenticate a particular client connection can be selected on the basis of (client) host address, database, and user.

PostgreSQL database user names are logically separate from user names of the operating system in which the server runs. If all the users of a particular server also have accounts on the server's machine, it makes sense to assign database user names that match their operating system user names. However, a server that accepts remote connections might have many database users who have no local operating system account, and in such cases there need be no connection between database user names and OS user names.