Promscale database roles and permissions

Promscale uses Role Based Access Control (RBAC) to manage permissions for the database. You can choose to use a single PostgreSQL user for all Promscale operations, or implement more granular control for permissions management.

Promscale uses these roles:

  • Owner: The owner of the Promscale schema and objects. Defined as the user that originally installed or migrated to Promscale. This user must be able to install PostgreSQL extensions, so they must be a PostgreSQL superuser. Alternatively, you can use pgextwlist to authorize a regular user to install the extensions. The owner should be consistent every time you migrate the Promscale schema.
  • prom_reader: This role can read but not modify the data stored by Promscale.
  • prom_writer: This role can read and write new data, but cannot modify or delete data. This role also includes all permissions of prom_reader.
  • prom_modifier: This role can read, write, and modify all data. This role also includes all permissions of prom_writer.
  • prom_maintenance: This role can execute maintenance tasks, such as compression and data retention jobs. This role is mostly only used externally, unless you are using a cron job to execute_maintenance() instead of the jobs framework. This role also includes all permission of prom_reader.
  • prom_admin: This role can change the configuration options associated with Promscale, including data retention policies, and chunk intervals. This role also includes all permissions of prom_modifier and prom_maintenance.
RoleMigrate schemaDelete dataWrite dataRead dataExecute maintenance tasksChange configuration options

Promscale can be run by the owner, or a user with the prom_modifier, prom_writer or prom_reader role. A user can be assigned multiple roles.

You can assign roles to users with this SQL command:

GRANT <role> to <user>

For more information, see the PostgreSQL docs about permissions.

Example permissions

This section outlines some example permissions environments.

Single owner

The simplest possible permissions environment is a single owner called tsdbadmin, that has permissions to install the Promscale and Timescaledb extensions. To use this environment, start Promscale with this command:

PGPASSWORD=<password> ./promscale -db-uri=postgres://[email protected]<hostname>:<port>/<databasename>?sslmode=require

Separate owner and modifier users

You can separate the users that are used for normal Promscale operations from the users that can upgrade the Promscale schema. In this environment, a database user called tsdbadmin has permissions to install the Promscale and Timescaledb extensions and becomes the Promscale owner.

Begin by installing the Promscale schema. Use the -migrate=only flag so that the command exits as soon as the schema is installed:

PGPASSWORD=<password> ./promscale \
-db-uri="postgres://[email protected]<hostname>:<port>/<databasename>?sslmode=require" \

Create a more limited user for use by Promscale with psql:

PGPASSWORD=<password> psql "postgres://[email protected]<hostname>:<port>/<databasename>?sslmode=require"

Create the promscale_modifier user:

CREATE ROLE promscale_modifier_user PASSWORD '<new password>' LOGIN;
GRANT prom_modifier TO promscale_modifier_user;

Start promscale with the promscale_modifier user:

PGPASSWORD=<password> ./promscale -db-uri="postgres://[email protected]<hostname>:<port>/<databasename>?sslmode=require"  \
-install-extensions=false -migrate=false -upgrade-extensions=false

A non-superuser owner with pgextwlist

The owner user of Promscale need to be able to install and upgrade the Promscale and TimescaleDB PostgreSQL extensions. In most environments, the owner user is a PostgreSQL superuser. However, you can use pgextwlist to authorize a regular user to install the extensions instead. Set up the pgextwlist extension by adding this to the PostgreSQL configuration file:


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