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PG_VIRTUALENV(1) Debian PostgreSQL infrastructure PG_VIRTUALENV(1)


pg_virtualenv - Create a throw-away PostgreSQL environment for running regression tests


pg_virtualenv [OPTIONS] [-v 'version ...'] [command]


pg_virtualenv creates a virtual PostgreSQL server environment, and sets environment variables such that command can access the PostgreSQL database server(s). The servers are destroyed when command exits.

The environment variables PGHOST, PGDATABASE, PGUSER, and PGPASSWORD will be set. Per default, a single new cluster is created, using the newest PostgreSQL server version installed. The cluster will use the first available port number starting from 5432, and PGPORT will be set. PGVERSION is set the the PostgreSQL major version number.

When clusters for more than one versions are created, they will differ in the port number used, and PGPORT and PGVERSION are not set. The clusters are named version/regress. To access a cluster, set PGCLUSTER=version/regress. For ease of access, the clusters are also registered in /etc/postgresql-common/pg_service.conf, with the version number as cluster name. Clusters can be accessed by passing the connection string "service=version", e.g. psql service=9.2.

When invoked as root, the clusters are created in /etc/postgresql/ as usual; for other users, PG_CLUSTER_CONF_ROOT and PGSYSCONFDIR are set to a temporary directory where all files belonging to the clusters are created.

If command fails, the tail of the PostgreSQL server log is shown. Additionally, if gdb is available, the backtrace from any PostgreSQL coredump is show.


Use all PostgreSQL server versions installed.
Use these versions (space-separated list).
Extra options to pass to pg_createcluster.
Extra initdb options to pass to pg_createcluster.
Configuration option to set in the postgresql.conf file, passed to pg_createcluster.
Set extension_destdir and dynamic_library_path in cluster to enable loading and testing extensions at build-time from debian/package/.

This is a Debian-specific PostgreSQL patch.

Launch a shell inside the virtual environment when command fails.
Install clusters in a temporary directory, even when running as root.
Show program help.


  # pg_virtualenv make check


When run with fakeroot(1), pg_virtualenv will fall back to the non-root mode of operation. Running "fakeroot pg_virtualenv" as root will fail, though.


When non-empty, pg_virtualenv will re-exec itself using newpid(1).
When non-empty, pg_virtualenv will re-exec itself using unshare(1) using these flags.
When set, the value is used for the (single) cluster created.


PGVERSION is set in postgresql-common (>= 219~).


initdb(1), pg_createcluster(1).


Christoph Berg <>

2023-05-24 Debian