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PostgreSQL 8.4 on RHEL 4: Teaching an old dog new tricks

By David Christensen · Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tags: database, postgres, redhat

So a client has been running a really old version of PostgreSQL in production for a while. We finally got the approval to upgrade them from 7.3 to the latest 8.4. Considering the age of the installation, it should come as little surprise that they had been running a similarly ancient OS: RHEL 4.

Like the installed PostgreSQL version, RHEL 4 is ancient -- 5 years old. I anticipated that in order to get us to a current version of PostgreSQL, we'd need to resort to a source build or rolling our own PostgreSQL RPMs. Neither approach was particularly appealing.

While the age/decrepitude of the current machine's OS came as little surprise, what did come as a surprise was that there were supported RPMs available for RHEL 4 in the community Yum RPM repository (modulo your architecture of choice).

In order to get things installed, I followed the instructions for installing the specific yum repo. There were a few seconds where I was confused because the installation command was giving a "permission denied" error when attempting to install the 8.4 PGDG rpm as root. A little brainstorming and a lsattr later revealed that a previous administrator, apparently in the quest for über-security, had performed a chattr +i on the /etc/yum.repo.d directory.

Evil having been thwarted, in the interest of über-usability I did a quick chattr -i /etc/yum.repo.d and installed the PGDG rpm. Away we went. From that point, the install was completely straightforward; I had a PostgreSQL 8.4.4 system running in no time, and could finally get off that 7.3 behemoth. Now to talk my way into an OS upgrade...