I am trying to dump some tables from a 9.5 beta 2 to a 9.4.4 server. The form of the command I am using is the fairly standard:

pg_dump -t table dbname | psql -h hostname -d dbname

I am using the Postgres user, which I realize is probably not ideal, but as these are both dev data processing boxes that only I use and it is relevant to the error which follows. Initially, I got the error

ERROR: unrecognized configuration parameter "row_security"

which is expected as this feature is new in 9.5, and, yes, I realize that it is not advisable to pg_dump between different Postgres versions, but, sadly unavoidable, given that I have hit a very obscure bug, and need to move a large amount of static data once.

So, using this hideous hack to remove the row_security error, and turning on stop on first error:

pg_dump -t tablemame dbname |sed 's/SET row_security = off;//'|
psql -v ON_ERROR_STOP=1 -h hostname -d dbname

I now get:

ERROR: permission denied to create "pg_catalog.tablename" DETAIL: System catalog modifications are currently disallowed

While it may be undesirable to use the Postgres user/role, my understanding is that there should be no permission issues of this nature. I am open to any suggestions bearing in mind that this is a one off operation and that these are data processing dev boxes not connected to any live services, so expediency preferred over ideal corporate data access policies. Having said that, it would be good to understand how to do this properly and avoid this in future.


This turns out to be due to a somewhat obscure error message which happens when the schema you are dumping from with pg_dump does not exist on the target database/machine. I will leave this question, in the hope it might help someone else.

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  • Happened to me too, luckily I found this. Just manually created the 'public' schema and it worked. – Robert Mikes Jan 2 '18 at 9:40
  • @RobertMikes. Glad to help. It is a somewhat obscure error. – John Powell Jan 2 '18 at 10:51
  • Thank you - luckily I found this before getting too involved in it! – James Fry Mar 20 '18 at 11:28
  • +1. This issue just tripped me up too! – Jay Cummins Jan 3 '19 at 11:07

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