Manage your PostgreSQL Database from a Remote Workstation

At home I have my main development workstation and then I spin up VMs that mimic my production environment to run different types of integration tests. One of these VMs is running a relatively recent version of PostgreSQL. By default, PostgreSQL is setup to allow connections coming from the local host only. In this article I will walk through the steps of setting up PostgreSQL so that it allows connections from other machines also.

Setup Remote Connections

There are, essentially, two lines in two different PostgreSQL configuration files that need to be changed to allow remote connections to work.

The first file is postgresql.conf and this is usually found at /etc/postgresql/9.1/main/ on Debian-based systems. Open that file and find the line that starts with listen_addresses. By defaul the value assigned to it should be 'localhost'. Change that so the line reads like this:

listen_addresses = '*'

The second file is called pg_hba.conf. In this file you need to look for a IPv4 local conections line that starts with host. By default, the line reads the following:

host    all             all               md5

You need to change this line to read like this:

host    all             all                trust

For all intents and purposes, the default is telling PostgreSQL to accept connections only from the localhost (that's what the /32 is for), while we are changing the value to allow any host with an IP starting with 10.0.0.* to connect. The above will only work after you restart PostgreSQL with the following command:

sudo /etc/init.d/postgresql restart

Again, YMMV if you are using anything other than Debian.

Allowing Connections Through a Firewall

The above is really all you have to do with PostgreSQL proper to allow remote connections. But if you are like me, you are probably running a firewall on your systems also and you will need to punch a whole for PostgreSQL to talk through.

You can find out more about how I setup my IPTables firewall by reading this. In my case, I need to allow only one system (my workstation) to connect to the VM hosting PostgreSQL. I created the following lines in my IPTables condiguration file:

# Allow connections to Postgres DB Server from hurricane
-A INPUT -p tcp -s --sport 1024:65535 -d --dport 5432 -m state --state NEW,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
-A OUTPUT -p tcp -s --sport 5432 -d --dport 1024:65535 -m state --state ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

In the above, the first line allows traffic on port 5432 into the local system from the IP address, which is my development workstation. The second line allows the local system to send traffic out via port 5432, which is the default port used by PostgreSQL.


To allow remote connections to your PostgreSQL instance, all you have to do is edit postgresql.conf and pg_hba.conf. Also remember to address firewall configuration issues that may arise.