Installing from Pre-Built Release

The release page has precompiled binaries for Mac OS X, Windows, and several Linux distros. Extract the tarball and run the binary inside with no arguments to see usage instructions:

# Untar the release (available at

$ tar zxf postgrest-[version]-[platform].tar.xz

# Try running it
$ ./postgrest

# You should see a usage help message

Building from Source

When a prebuilt binary does not exist for your system you can build the project from source. You’ll also need to do this if you want to help with development. Stack makes it easy. It will install any necessary Haskell dependencies on your system.

  • Install Stack for your platform

  • Install Library Dependencies

    Operating System Dependencies
    Ubuntu/Debian libpq-dev
    CentOS/Fedora/Red Hat postgresql-devel, zlib-devel
    BSD postgresql95-server
  • Build & install in one step

git clone
cd postgrest
stack build --install-ghc
sudo stack install --allow-different-user --local-bin-path /usr/local/bin
  • Check that the server is installed: postgrest --help

If you want to run the test suite, stack can do that too: stack test.

Running the Server

postgrest postgres://user:pass@host:port/db -a anon_user [other flags]

The user in the connection string is the “authenticator role,” i.e. a role which is used temporarily to switch into other roles depending on the authentication request JWT. For simple APIs you can use the same role for authenticator and anonymous.

The complete list of options:

-p, --port
The port on which the server will listen for HTTP requests. Defaults to 3000.
-a, --anonymous (required)
The database role used to execute commands for those requests which provide no JWT authorization.
-s, --schema
The db schema which you want to expose as an API. For historical reasons it defaults to 1, but you're more likely to want to choose a value of public.
-j, --jwt-secret
The secret passphrase used to encrypt JWT tokens. Defaults to secret but do not use the default in production! Load-balanced PostgREST servers should share the same secret.
-o, --pool
Max connections to use in db pool. Defaults to to 10, but you should find an optimal value for your db by running the SQL command show max\_connections;
-m, --max-rows
Max number of rows to return in a read request. The default is no limit.

Hiding Password from Process List

Passing the database password and JWT secret as naked parameters might not be a good idea because the parameters are visible in a ps listing. One solution is to set environment variables such as PASS and use $PASS in the connection string. Another is to use a user-specific .pgpass file.

When running postgrest on the same machine as PostgreSQL, it is also possible to connect to the database using the Unix socket and the Peer Authentication method as an alternative to TCP/IP communication and authentication with a password.

The Peer Authentication grants access to the database to any Unix user who connects as a user of the same name in the database. Since the empty host resolves to the Unix socket and the password can be omitted in this case, the command line is reduced to:

sudo -u user postgrest postgres://user@/db [flags]

where the sudo -u user command runs the following command as given user.

If you create a Unix user postgrest and a database user postgrest for example, the command becomes:

sudo -u postgrest postgrest postgres://postgrest@/db [flags]

The first postgrest is the Unix user name, the second postgrest is the name of the executable, the third postgrest is the name of the database user.

Install via Homebrew (Mac OS X)

You can use the Homebrew package manager to install PostgREST on Mac

# Ensure brew is up to date
brew update

# Check for any problems with brew's setup
brew doctor

# Install the postgrest package
brew install postgrest

This will automatically install PostgreSQL as a dependency (see the Installing PostgreSQL section for setup instructions). The process tends to take up to 15 minutes to install the package and its dependencies.

After installation completes, the tool is added to your $PATH and can be used from anywhere with:

postgrest --help

Installing PostgreSQL

To use PostgREST you will need an underlying database (PostgreSQL version 9.3 or greater is required). You can use something like Amazon RDS but installing your own locally is cheaper and more convenient for development.