Question: Why am I getting a "permission denied" error when trying to access postgresql.conf?


When working with PostgreSQL, the postgresql.conf file is crucial as it contains all the essential configuration settings for the database server. If you encounter a "permission denied" error while trying to access this file, it typically indicates a problem with the operating system permissions.

Understanding the Issue

The postgresql.conf file should be readable and writable by the user under which the PostgreSQL server operates, usually postgres. If another user tries to modify this file without the proper permissions, they will encounter a permission issue.

Common Causes

  1. Incorrect Ownership: The file might not be owned by the postgres user.
  2. Strict File Permissions: The permissions set on postgresql.conf may be too restrictive.

How to Resolve

Check Ownership

First, ensure that the ownership of the file is correct:

ls -l /path/to/postgresql.conf

This command will show you the owner of the file. If it's not owned by postgres, change it:

sudo chown postgres:postgres /path/to/postgresql.conf

Adjust Permissions

Next, check the permissions:

ls -l /path/to/postgresql.conf

The permissions should ideally allow the postgres user to read and write the file. You can set appropriate permissions using:

sudo chmod 600 /path/to/postgresql.conf

This sets the file to be readable and writable only by the owner (which should be postgres).


By ensuring the correct ownership and permissions for postgresql.conf, you can resolve the "permission denied" error. These steps help maintain the security of your PostgreSQL configuration while allowing necessary access for management and operations.

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