Sunday, January 2, 2011

PostgreSQL automatic crash dumps for windows

It seems my first real* PostgreSQL patch has been accepted and committed! By the time patch review was done I think it was almost more Magnus Hagander's patch than mine, but I'm still very happy to have put it together and seen it through into Pg mainline. Thanks very much to Marcus for testing, enhancing and committing the patch.

PostgreSQL 9.1 will now have automatic crash dump generation under Windows. That'll allow Windows users to run their production sites with crash dumps so we can do post-mortem debugging without holding up their server or requiring them to run it under a debugger. That gives us a much better chance of tracking down the cause of hard-to reproduce or intermittent faults. To activate the crash dump collection feature, just create a crashdumps directory in the data directory and grant the postgres user (or whatever user your server runs under) "full control" of that folder in Properties->Security. No configuration file changes or server re-starts are needed.

Helpfully, this change will also let the majority who don't know what Visual Studio or windbg.exe are send crash dumps off to someone more experienced with the tools already configured. There should be much less need for this page - and while it took me long enough to write, I'll be glad to see it rendered unnecessary.

* The one-liner fix for the X.509 client certificate validation bug doesn't really count, despite the truly epic amount of convincing required to get the patch applied.

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