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Let's say I have two Postgresql database groups, "authors" and "editors", and two users, "maxwell" and "ernest".

create role authors;

create role editors;

create user maxwell;

create user ernest;

grant authors to editors; --editors can do what authors can do

grant editors to maxwell; --maxwell is an editor

grant authors to ernest; --ernest is an author

I would like to write a performant function that returns a list of the roles (preferably their oid's) that maxwell belongs to, something like this:

create or replace function get_all_roles() returns oid[] ...

It should return the oids for maxwell, authors, and editors (but not ernest).

But I am not sure how to do it when there is inheritance.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

You can query the system catalog with a recursive query, in particular pg_auth_members:

   SELECT oid FROM pg_roles WHERE rolname = 'maxwell'

   SELECT m.roleid
   FROM   cte
   JOIN   pg_auth_members m ON m.member = cte.oid
SELECT oid FROM cte;

BTW, INHERIT is the default behavior of CREATE ROLE and doesn't have to be spelled out.

BTW2: circular dependencies are not possible. Postgres disallows that. So we don't have to check for that.

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Short version:

SELECT a.oid 
FROM pg_authid a 
WHERE pg_has_role('maxwell', a.oid, 'member');

Here we use a version of pg_has_role that takes a role name as the subject and role oid to test for membership, passing member mode so we test for inherited memberships.

The advantage of using pg_has_role is that it uses PostgreSQL's internal caches of role information to satisfy membership queries quickly.

You might want to wrap this in a SECURITY DEFINER function, since pg_authid has restricted access. Something like:

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION user_role_memberships(text)
SET search_path = pg_catalog, pg_temp
AS $$
SELECT a.oid 
FROM pg_authid a 
WHERE pg_has_role($1, a.oid, 'member');

REVOKE EXECUTE ON FUNCTION user_role_memberships(text) FROM public;

GRANT EXECUTE ON FUNCTION user_role_memberships(text) TO ...whoever...;

You can use pg_get_userbyid(oid) to get the role name from the oid without the need to query pg_authid:

SELECT a.oid AS member_oid, pg_get_userbyid(oid) AS member_name
FROM pg_authid a 
WHERE pg_has_role('maxwell', a.oid, 'member');
share|improve this answer
+1 anyway, since pg_has_role() is probably a bit faster than my recursive query, even if that hardly matters. One last thing though: it returns all roles for supersusers, which may or may not be a welcome side effect. That's where the result differs from my query. – Erwin Brandstetter Jan 4 '14 at 1:31

This is a simplified version of Craig Ringer's answer that a non superuser can use directly:

 SELECT oid, rolname FROM pg_roles WHERE
   pg_has_role( 'maxwell', oid, 'member');

pg_roles is essentially a view on pg_authid accessible to public, as it doesn't reveal passwords, contrary to pg_authid. The base oid is even exported into the view. When not needing passwords, there's no point in creating the dedicated superuser-owned function.

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