I am trying to replace an existing database with pg_restore and am running into issues. I apologize if this issue is elementary.

Specifically my Postgres install is set up like this:

  • database postgres owned by root
  • database d owned by u
  • database restore owned by u (more on this later)

I created a dump like pg_dump --format=custom .... I am now trying to replace d with the contents of that dump. Specifically I am running a command like pg_restore -cC --dbname=$DB --exit-on-error --format=custom --username=$USER.

But it seems no matter what combination of $DB and $USER, Postgres is unable to restore. From the error messages (below) Postgres seems to want the user to simultaneously be root and the owner of d. I have read the man pages and tried various combinations to no avail.

What am I doing wrong?

Specifically, if $DB is d, regardless of $USER, I get

ERROR: cannot drop the currently open database

Command was: DROP DATABASE d;

Fair enough. So let's try $DB=postgres and $USER=root:

ERROR: must be owner of database d

Command was: DROP DATABASE d;

Okay, so let's try $DB=postgres and $USER=u:

ERROR: must be member of role "root"

Command was: ALTER DATABASE d OWNER TO root;

Huh? Maybe that has to do with logging into postgres, which is owned by root? Let's try $DB=restore (created specifically for this purpose) and $USER=u:

ERROR: must be member of role "root"

Command was: ALTER DATABASE d OWNER TO root;


1 Answer 1


Evidently, "root" is not a superuser (which is a bit odd, given the normal implications of the word "root"). The pg_restore command you wish to run must be run as a superuser. Only a superuser can drop someone else's database, and then create a new database owned by someone else.

Although it looks like the restored database is going to be owned by "root", not "u". I guess that is not what you are expecting, but it is what was encoded in the pg_dump output.

  • Yes you are right. I never would have thought root is not a super user. Thanks! Aug 31, 2018 at 14:25

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