BDR Quick Start

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This document has been superceded by the new quick start guide in the official BDR documentation for 0.9.0 and later.

It is retained to help people who wish to refer to it for the 0.8.0 release.

This guide discusses how to quickly configure a test install of Bi-Directional Replication (BDR) for experimentation and learning. These instructions are not suitable for a production install, as they neglect security considerations, proper system administration procedure, etc. If you're trying to set up a production BDR install, see the BDR Admin Guide.


New documentation

This document has been superceded by the new quick start guide in the official BDR documentation for BDR 0.9.0 and later.

It is retained to help people who wish to refer to it for the 0.8.0 release.

What is BDR?

BDR (Bi-Directional Replication) is the latest replication technology for PostgreSQL, developed by 2ndQuadrant. BDR is a feature being progressively added to PostgreSQL core that provides greatly enhanced replication capabilities. It is available for immediate end-user deployment as a small patch on top of PostgreSQL 9.4 plus an extension module.

Creating and starting a test BDR install

To set up BDR you'll need to:

  • Install a patched copy of PostgreSQL that can support BDR;
  • Install the BDR extension;
  • initdb a new data directory or upgrade your current one to support BDR;
  • Start one or more additional BDR-patched PostgreSQL instances for replication
  • Logical senders and receivers on each node

For simplicitly this guide assumes that you want to start a new server instance rather than BDR-enable an existing one. As a further simplification, the instructions show the creation of multiple PostgreSQL instances on a single computer rather than the normal BDR deployment pattern of one instance per computer on multiple computers.

Installing the patched PostgreSQL binaries and BDR extension

BDR is distributed as source code in the 2ndquadrant_bdr repository on

RPMs for CentOS and Fedora are available; Debian packages are in progress. A script to compile BDR for test use is provided below, or you can manually install from source.

PostgreSQL 9.3 and below do not support BDR, and 9.4 requires patches, so this guide will not work for you if you are trying to use a normal install of PostgreSQL. (It is expected that PostgreSQL 9.5 will support the BDR extension without additional patches).

Currently BDR is supported on Linux and Mac OS X. It should probably work on other Unix-like operating systems such as FreeBSD but has not yet been tested on these. BDR is not supported on Windows; although there are no fundamental technical barriers to supporting Windows, this has not been a priority of the project.

Installing BDR from RPMs

If you are using a Red Hat derived distro, you will find it easiest to install BDR packages using yum.

Compiling PostgreSQL with BDR

If no packages are available for your distro, or if you'd prefer to compile BDR from source, a script to download and compile BDR is provided for your convenience. For those who prefer to do the install entirely by hand, see installing BDR from source.

If you've installed using RPMs you can skip this step.

To run the script:

   curl -s ";a=blob_plain;f=scripts/;hb=bdr-plugin/next" | bash

(Now, on an aside, that script could've been almost anything. It's safer to download scripts like that, read them, then run the downloaded copy.)

When it finishes, the script will print:

BDR compiled and installed.

Sources at /home/myuser/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr-src
Installed to /home/myuser/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr

Now add it to your PATH:
    export PATH=/home/myuser/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr/bin:$PATH
and carry on with the quickstart at

Adjusting your environment

To actually use these new binaries you will need to do as the quickstart script suggested and:

export PATH=$HOME/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr/bin:$PATH

or, if you installed from RPMs, run:

export PATH=/usr/pgsql-9.4/bin:$PATH

This only affects the terminal you ran it in and makes no permanent changes. For how to apply the change permanently see adjusting your environment.

Creating BDR-enabled PostgreSQL instances

Since we're creating new PostgreSQL instances for this example, run:

initdb -D $HOME/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr5598 -A trust -U postgres
initdb -D $HOME/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr5599 -A trust -U postgres

to make two new PostgreSQL database server instances ("clusters"). This will work with both source installs and RPM packages.

The -A trust option tells PostgreSQL to turn off user authentication. This should never be used in production, it just keeps this quickstart simpler. Securely configuring BDR is covered in BDR Administration.

Start the server

We'll run the two servers on ports 5598 and 5599 respectively, so they don't conflict with each other or with PostgreSQL's default port 5432.

To start the servers, which won't yet be connected to each other, run:

pg_ctl -l $HOME/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr5598.log -D $HOME/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr5598 -o "-p 5598" -w start
pg_ctl -l $HOME/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr5599.log -D $HOME/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr5599 -o "-p 5599" -w start

Each server will start up then switch to running in the background, printing:

waiting for server to start.... done
server started

If you instead get:

waiting for server to start........ stopped waiting
pg_ctl: could not start server
Examine the log output.

then take a look at $HOME/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr5598.log or bdr5599.log (depending on which failed to start) to see what happened. Most likely you already have a server running on the target port or you're repeating a step and the BDR postgres server is already running on that port.

These servers won't start automatically on boot.

Create the databases

Each node needs a database to participate in BDR, so create them now:

createdb -p 5598 -U postgres bdrdemo
createdb -p 5599 -U postgres bdrdemo

It is important that you leave the database on the server on port 5599 empty, since we'll be initializing it from the node on port 5598 shortly.

You can create some tables on the node on port 5598 and add some data now, if you like. To connect with psql, use:

psql -p 5598 -U postgres bdrdemo

Enable the BDR extension

You now have a running PostgreSQL server. It behaves like any ordinary PostgreSQL server at this point, but it's time to change that.

Add the following lines to the end of postgresql.conf for both servers ($HOME/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr5598/postgresql.conf and $HOME/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr5599/postgresql.conf):

# Generic settings required for BDR

# Allow two other peer nodes, plus one for init_replica
max_replication_slots = 3

# Two peer nodes, plus two slots for pg_basebackup
max_wal_senders = 4 

# Record data for logical replication
wal_level = 'logical'
track_commit_timestamp = on

# Load BDR
shared_preload_libraries = 'bdr'

# Make sure there are enough background worker slots for BDR to run
max_worker_processes = 10

# These aren't required, but are useful for diagnosing problems
#log_error_verbosity = verbose
#log_min_messages = debug1
#log_line_prefix = 'd=%d p=%p a=%a%q '

# Useful options for playing with conflicts
#bdr.default_apply_delay=2000   # milliseconds

This part of the configuration covers the generic settings required to use a two-node BDR configuration. They're discussed in more detail in the BDR Parameter Reference.

Now append this to the end of node 5598's configuration file ($HOME/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr5598/postgresql.conf) only:

# BDR connection configuration for node 5598

bdr.connections = 'bdr5599'

bdr.bdr5599_dsn = 'dbname=bdrdemo user=postgres port=5599'

and this to the end of node 5599's configuration file ($HOME/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr5599/postgresql.conf) only:

# BDR connection configuration for node 5599

bdr.connections = 'bdr5598'

bdr.bdr5598_dsn = 'dbname=bdrdemo user=postgres port=5598' 
bdr.bdr5598_init_replica = on
bdr.bdr5598_replica_local_dsn = 'dbname=bdrdemo user=postgres port=5599'

These parts specify a two-node BDR configuration in which the bdrdemo database on the PostgreSQL instance on port 5598 is replicated to and from the bdrdemo database on the instance on port 5599. Each node has to be told how to connect to the other node(s) in its configuration file.

The init_replica option that appears only on node 5599 means that when BDR first starts on bdr5599, the bdrdemo database's contents are automatically copied from bdr5598 into bdr5599 so that replication can begin from a consistent point. (Explicit configuration of this will be removed in a later release).

Add a pg_hba.conf entry to allow replication

PostgreSQL requires that you explicitly enable replication in the host-based access control file pg_hba.conf. So edit $HOME/2ndquadrant_bdr/bdr5598/pg_hba.conf and add the following lines (or uncomment the ones already there):

local replication postgres              trust
host  replication postgres
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