Configuring Database Authorization

Describes how to restrict authorization access to database data at the user level by using roles and permissions.

Parent topic: Greenplum Database Security Configuration Guide

Access Permissions and Roles

Greenplum Database manages database access permissions using roles. The concept of roles subsumes the concepts of users and groups. A role can be a database user, a group, or both. Roles can own database objects (for example, tables) and can assign privileges on those objects to other roles to control access to the objects. Roles can be members of other roles, thus a member role can inherit the object privileges of its parent role.

Every Greenplum Database system contains a set of database roles (users and groups). Those roles are separate from the users and groups managed by the operating system on which the server runs. However, for convenience you may want to maintain a relationship between operating system user names and Greenplum Database role names, since many of the client applications use the current operating system user name as the default.

In Greenplum Database, users log in and connect through the coordinator instance, which verifies their role and access privileges. The coordinator then issues out commands to the segment instances behind the scenes using the currently logged in role.

Roles are defined at the system level, so they are valid for all databases in the system.

To bootstrap the Greenplum Database system, a freshly initialized system always contains one predefined superuser role (also referred to as the system user). This role will have the same name as the operating system user that initialized the Greenplum Database system. Customarily, this role is named gpadmin. To create more roles you first must connect as this initial role.

Managing Object Privileges

When an object (table, view, sequence, database, function, language, schema, or tablespace) is created, it is assigned an owner. The owner is normally the role that ran the creation statement. For most kinds of objects, the initial state is that only the owner (or a superuser) can do anything with the object. To allow other roles to use it, privileges must be granted. Greenplum Database supports the following privileges for each object type:

Object Type Privileges
Tables, Views, Sequences SELECT
External Tables SELECT
Databases CONNECT
Functions EXECUTE
Procedural Languages USAGE
Schemas CREATE

Privileges must be granted for each object individually. For example, granting ALL on a database does not grant full access to the objects within that database. It only grants all of the database-level privileges (CONNECT, CREATE, TEMPORARY) to the database itself.

Use the GRANT SQL command to give a specified role privileges on an object. For example:

=# GRANT INSERT ON mytable TO jsmith; 

To revoke privileges, use the REVOKE command. For example:


You can also use the DROP OWNED and REASSIGN OWNED commands for managing objects owned by deprecated roles. (Note: only an object's owner or a superuser can drop an object or reassign ownership.) For example:

 =# REASSIGN OWNED BY sally TO bob;
 =# DROP OWNED BY visitor; 

Restricting Access by Time

Greenplum Database enables the administrator to restrict access to certain times by role. Use the CREATE ROLE or ALTER ROLE commands to specify time-based constraints.

Access can be restricted by day or by day and time. The constraints are removable without deleting and recreating the role.

Time-based constraints only apply to the role to which they are assigned. If a role is a member of another role that contains a time constraint, the time constraint is not inherited.

Time-based constraints are enforced only during login. The SET ROLE and SET SESSION AUTHORIZATION commands are not affected by any time-based constraints.

Superuser or CREATEROLE privileges are required to set time-based constraints for a role. No one can add time-based constraints to a superuser.

There are two ways to add time-based constraints. Use the keyword DENY in the CREATE ROLE or ALTER ROLE command followed by one of the following.

  • A day, and optionally a time, when access is restricted. For example, no access on Wednesdays.
  • An interval—that is, a beginning and ending day and optional time—when access is restricted. For example, no access from Wednesday 10 p.m. through Thursday at 8 a.m.

You can specify more than one restriction; for example, no access Wednesdays at any time and no access on Fridays between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. 

There are two ways to specify a day. Use the word DAY followed by either the English term for the weekday, in single quotation marks, or a number between 0 and 6, as shown in the table below.

English Term Number
DAY 'Sunday' DAY 0
DAY 'Monday' DAY 1
DAY 'Tuesday' DAY 2
DAY 'Wednesday' DAY 3
DAY 'Thursday' DAY 4
DAY 'Friday' DAY 5
DAY 'Saturday' DAY 6

A time of day is specified in either 12- or 24-hour format. The word TIME is followed by the specification in single quotation marks. Only hours and minutes are specified and are separated by a colon ( : ). If using a 12-hour format, add AM or PM at the end. The following examples show various time specifications.

TIME '14:00'     # 24-hour time implied
TIME '02:00 PM'  # 12-hour time specified by PM 
TIME '02:00'     # 24-hour time implied. This is equivalent to TIME '02:00 AM'. 

Time-based authentication is enforced with the server time. Timezones are disregarded.

To specify an interval of time during which access is denied, use two day/time specifications with the words BETWEEN and AND, as shown. DAY is always required.

BETWEEN DAY 'Monday' AND DAY 'Tuesday' 

BETWEEN DAY 'Monday' TIME '00:00' AND
        DAY 'Monday' TIME '01:00'

BETWEEN DAY 'Monday' TIME '12:00 AM' AND
        DAY 'Tuesday' TIME '02:00 AM'

BETWEEN DAY 'Monday' TIME '00:00' AND
        DAY 'Tuesday' TIME '02:00'
        DAY 2 TIME '02:00'

The last three statements are equivalent.


Intervals of days cannot wrap past Saturday.

The following syntax is not correct:

DENY BETWEEN DAY 'Saturday' AND DAY 'Sunday'

The correct specification uses two DENY clauses, as follows:

DENY DAY 'Saturday'
DENY DAY 'Sunday'

The following examples demonstrate creating a role with time-based constraints and modifying a role to add time-based constraints. Only the statements needed for time-based constraints are shown. For more details on creating and altering roles see the descriptions of CREATE ROLE and ALTER ROLE in the Greenplum Database Reference Guide.

Example 1 – Create a New Role with Time-based Constraints

No access is allowed on weekends.

 CREATE ROLE generaluser
 DENY DAY 'Saturday'
 DENY DAY 'Sunday'

Example 2 – Alter a Role to Add Time-based Constraints

No access is allowed every night between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m.

ALTER ROLE generaluser
 DENY BETWEEN DAY 'Monday' TIME '02:00' AND DAY 'Monday' TIME '04:00'
 DENY BETWEEN DAY 'Tuesday' TIME '02:00' AND DAY 'Tuesday' TIME '04:00'
 DENY BETWEEN DAY 'Wednesday' TIME '02:00' AND DAY 'Wednesday' TIME '04:00'
 DENY BETWEEN DAY 'Thursday' TIME '02:00' AND DAY 'Thursday' TIME '04:00'
 DENY BETWEEN DAY 'Friday' TIME '02:00' AND DAY 'Friday' TIME '04:00'
 DENY BETWEEN DAY 'Saturday' TIME '02:00' AND DAY 'Saturday' TIME '04:00'
 DENY BETWEEN DAY 'Sunday' TIME '02:00' AND DAY 'Sunday' TIME '04:00'

Excample 3 – Alter a Role to Add Time-based Constraints

No access is allowed Wednesdays or Fridays between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

ALTER ROLE generaluser
 DENY DAY 'Wednesday'
 DENY BETWEEN DAY 'Friday' TIME '15:00' AND DAY 'Friday' TIME '17:00'

Dropping a Time-based Restriction

To remove a time-based restriction, use the ALTER ROLE command. Enter the keywords DROP DENY FOR followed by a day/time specification to drop.


Any constraint containing all or part of the conditions in a DROP clause is removed. For example, if an existing constraint denies access on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the DROP clause removes constraints for Mondays, the existing constraint is completely dropped. The DROP clause completely removes all constraints that overlap with the constraint in the drop clause. The overlapping constraints are completely removed even if they contain more restrictions that the restrictions mentioned in the DROP clause.

Example 1 - Remove a Time-based Restriction from a Role

 ALTER ROLE generaluser

This statement would remove all constraints that overlap with a Monday constraint for the role generaluser in Example 2, even if there are additional constraints.

check-circle-line exclamation-circle-line close-line
Scroll to top icon