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Troubleshooting PostgreSQL replication and failover for Linux package installations

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When working with PostgreSQL replication and failover, you might encounter the following issues.

Consul and PostgreSQL changes not taking effect

Due to the potential impacts, gitlab-ctl reconfigure only reloads Consul and PostgreSQL, it does not restart the services. However, not all changes can be activated by reloading.

To restart either service, run gitlab-ctl restart SERVICE

For PostgreSQL, it is usually safe to restart the leader node by default. Automatic failover defaults to a 1 minute timeout. Provided the database returns before then, nothing else needs to be done.

On the Consul server nodes, it is important to restart the Consul service in a controlled manner.

PgBouncer error ERROR: pgbouncer cannot connect to server

You may get this error when running gitlab-rake gitlab:db:configure or you may see the error in the PgBouncer log file.

PG::ConnectionBad: ERROR:  pgbouncer cannot connect to server

The problem may be that your PgBouncer node's IP address is not included in the trust_auth_cidr_addresses setting in /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb on the database nodes.

You can confirm that this is the issue by checking the PostgreSQL log on the leader database node. If you see the following error then trust_auth_cidr_addresses is the problem.

2018-03-29_13:59:12.11776 FATAL:  no pg_hba.conf entry for host "", user "pgbouncer", database "gitlabhq_production", SSL off

To fix the problem, add the IP address to /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb.

postgresql['trust_auth_cidr_addresses'] = %w( <other_cidrs>)

Reconfigure GitLab for the changes to take effect.

PgBouncer errors Error running command: GitlabCtl::Errors::ExecutionError and ERROR: database gitlabhq_production is not paused

Due to a known issue that affects versions of GitLab prior to 16.5.0, the automatic failover of PgBouncer nodes does not happen after a Patroni switchover. In this example, GitLab failed to detect a paused database, then attempted to RESUME a not-paused database:

INFO -- : Running: gitlab-ctl pgb-notify --pg-database gitlabhq_production --newhost --user pgbouncer --hostuser gitlab-consul
ERROR -- : STDERR: Error running command: GitlabCtl::Errors::ExecutionError
ERROR -- : STDERR: ERROR: ERROR:  database gitlabhq_production is not paused

To ensure a Patroni switchover succeeds, you must manually restart the PgBouncer service on all PgBouncer nodes with this command:

gitlab-ctl restart pgbouncer

Reinitialize a replica

If a replica cannot start or rejoin the cluster, or when it lags behind and cannot catch up, it might be necessary to reinitialize the replica:

  1. Check the replication status to confirm which server needs to be reinitialized. For example:

    + Cluster: postgresql-ha (6970678148837286213) ------+---------+--------------+----+-----------+
    | Member                              | Host         | Role    | State        | TL | Lag in MB |
    |       | | Replica | running      | 55 |         0 |
    |       | | Replica | start failed |    |   unknown |
    |       | | Leader  | running      | 55 |           |
  2. Sign in to the broken server and reinitialize the database and replication. Patroni shuts down PostgreSQL on that server, remove the data directory, and reinitialize it from scratch:

    sudo gitlab-ctl patroni reinitialize-replica --member

    This can be run on any Patroni node, but be aware that sudo gitlab-ctl patroni reinitialize-replica without --member restarts the server it is run on. You should run it locally on the broken server to reduce the risk of unintended data loss.

  3. Monitor the logs:

    sudo gitlab-ctl tail patroni

Reset the Patroni state in Consul

WARNING: Resetting the Patroni state in Consul is a potentially destructive process. Make sure that you have a healthy database backup first.

As a last resort you can reset the Patroni state in Consul completely.

This may be required if your Patroni cluster is in an unknown or bad state and no node can start:

+ Cluster: postgresql-ha (6970678148837286213) ------+---------+---------+----+-----------+
| Member                              | Host         | Role    | State   | TL | Lag in MB |
|       | | Replica | stopped |    |   unknown |
|       | | Replica | stopped |    |   unknown |
|       | | Replica | stopped |    |   unknown |

Before deleting the Patroni state in Consul, try and resolve the gitlab-ctl errors on the Patroni nodes.

This process results in a reinitialized Patroni cluster when the first Patroni node starts.

To reset the Patroni state in Consul:

  1. Take note of the Patroni node that was the leader, or that the application thinks is the current leader, if the current state shows more than one, or none:

    • Look on the PgBouncer nodes in /var/opt/gitlab/consul/databases.ini, which contains the hostname of the current leader.

    • Look in the Patroni logs /var/log/gitlab/patroni/current (or the older rotated and compressed logs /var/log/gitlab/patroni/@40000*) on all database nodes to see which server was most recently identified as the leader by the cluster:

      INFO: no action. I am a secondary (database1.local) and following a leader (database2.local)
  2. Stop Patroni on all nodes:

    sudo gitlab-ctl stop patroni
  3. Reset the state in Consul:

    /opt/gitlab/embedded/bin/consul kv delete -recurse /service/postgresql-ha/
  4. Start one Patroni node, which initializes the Patroni cluster to elect as a leader. It's highly recommended to start the previous leader (noted in the first step), so as to not lose existing writes that may have not been replicated because of the broken cluster state:

    sudo gitlab-ctl start patroni
  5. Start all other Patroni nodes that join the Patroni cluster as replicas:

    sudo gitlab-ctl start patroni

If you are still seeing issues, the next step is restoring the last healthy backup.

Errors in the Patroni log about a pg_hba.conf entry for

The following log entry in the Patroni log indicates the replication is not working and a configuration change is needed:

FATAL:  no pg_hba.conf entry for replication connection from host "", user "gitlab_replicator"

To fix the problem, ensure the loopback interface is included in the CIDR addresses list:

  1. Edit /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb:

    postgresql['trust_auth_cidr_addresses'] = %w(<other_cidrs>
  2. Reconfigure GitLab for the changes to take effect.

  3. Check that all the replicas are synchronized

Errors in Patroni logs: the requested start point is ahead of the Write Ahead Log (WAL) flush position

This error indicates that the database is not replicating:

FATAL:  could not receive data from WAL stream: ERROR:  requested starting point 0/5000000 is ahead of the WAL flush position of this server 0/4000388

This example error is from a replica that was initially misconfigured, and had never replicated.

Fix it by reinitializing the replica.

Patroni fails to start with MemoryError

Patroni may fail to start, logging an error and stack trace:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/opt/gitlab/embedded/bin/patroni", line 8, in <module>
  File "/opt/gitlab/embedded/lib/python3.7/ctypes/", line 273, in _reset_cache
    CFUNCTYPE(c_int)(lambda: None)

If the stack trace ends with CFUNCTYPE(c_int)(lambda: None), this code triggers MemoryError if the Linux server has been hardened for security.

The code causes Python to write temporary executable files, and if it cannot find a file system in which to do this. For example, if noexec is set on the /tmp file system, it fails with MemoryError (read more in the issue).


  • Remove noexec from the mount options for filesystems like /tmp and /var/tmp.
  • If set to enforcing, SELinux may also prevent these operations. Verify the issue is fixed by setting SELinux to permissive.

Patroni first shipped in the Linux package for GitLab 13.1, along with a build of Python 3.7. The code which causes this was removed in Python 3.8: this fix shipped in the Linux package for GitLab 14.3 and later, removing the need for a workaround.

Errors running gitlab-ctl

Patroni nodes can get into a state where gitlab-ctl commands fail and gitlab-ctl reconfigure cannot fix the node.

If this co-incides with a version upgrade of PostgreSQL, follow a different procedure

One common symptom is that gitlab-ctl cannot determine information it needs about the installation if the database server is failing to start:

Malformed configuration JSON file found at /opt/gitlab/embedded/nodes/<HOSTNAME>.json.
This usually happens when your last run of `gitlab-ctl reconfigure` didn't complete successfully.
Error while reinitializing replica on the current node: Attributes not found in
/opt/gitlab/embedded/nodes/<HOSTNAME>.json, has reconfigure been run yet?

Similarly, the nodes file (/opt/gitlab/embedded/nodes/<HOSTNAME>.json) should contain a lot of information, but might get created with only:

  "name": "<HOSTNAME>"

The following process for fixing this includes reinitializing this replica: the current state of PostgreSQL on this node is discarded:

  1. Shut down the Patroni and (if present) PostgreSQL services:

    sudo gitlab-ctl status
    sudo gitlab-ctl stop patroni
    sudo gitlab-ctl stop postgresql
  2. Remove /var/opt/gitlab/postgresql/data in case its state prevents PostgreSQL from starting:

    cd /var/opt/gitlab/postgresql
    sudo rm -rf data

    Take care with this step to avoid data loss. This step can be also achieved by renaming data/: make sure there's enough free disk for a new copy of the primary database, and remove the extra directory when the replica is fixed.

  3. With PostgreSQL not running, the nodes file now gets created successfully:

    sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure
  4. Start Patroni:

    sudo gitlab-ctl start patroni
  5. Monitor the logs and check the cluster state:

    sudo gitlab-ctl tail patroni
    sudo gitlab-ctl patroni members
  6. Re-run reconfigure again:

    sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure
  7. Reinitialize the replica if gitlab-ctl patroni members indicates this is needed:

    sudo gitlab-ctl patroni reinitialize-replica

If this procedure doesn't work and if the cluster is unable to elect a leader, there is a another fix which should only be used as a last resort.

PostgreSQL major version upgrade fails on a Patroni replica

A Patroni replica can get stuck in a loop during gitlab-ctl pg-upgrade, and the upgrade fails.

An example set of symptoms is as follows:

  1. A postgresql service is defined, which shouldn't usually be present on a Patroni node. It is present because gitlab-ctl pg-upgrade adds it to create a new empty database:

    run: patroni: (pid 1972) 1919s; run: log: (pid 1971) 1919s
    down: postgresql: 1s, normally up, want up; run: log: (pid 1973) 1919s
  2. PostgreSQL generates PANIC log entries in /var/log/gitlab/postgresql/current as Patroni is removing /var/opt/gitlab/postgresql/data as part of reinitializing the replica:

    DETAIL:  Could not open file "pg_xact/0000": No such file or directory.
    WARNING:  terminating connection because of crash of another server process
    LOG:  all server processes terminated; reinitializing
    PANIC:  could not open file "global/pg_control": No such file or directory
  3. In /var/log/gitlab/patroni/current, Patroni logs the following. The local PostgreSQL version is different from the cluster leader:

    INFO: trying to bootstrap from leader 'HOSTNAME'
    pg_basebackup: incompatible server version 12.6
    pg_basebackup: removing data directory "/var/opt/gitlab/postgresql/data"
    ERROR: Error when fetching backup: pg_basebackup exited with code=1

Important: This workaround applies when the Patroni cluster is in the following state:

This workaround completes the PostgreSQL upgrade on a Patroni replica by setting the node to use the new PostgreSQL version, and then reinitializing it as a replica in the new cluster that was created when the leader was upgraded:

  1. Check the cluster status on all nodes to confirm which is the leader and what state the replicas are in

    sudo gitlab-ctl patroni members
  2. Replica: check which version of PostgreSQL is active:

    sudo ls -al /opt/gitlab/embedded/bin | grep postgres
  3. Replica: ensure the nodes file is correct and gitlab-ctl can run. This resolves the errors running gitlab-ctl issue if the replica has any of those errors as well:

    sudo gitlab-ctl stop patroni
    sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure
  4. Replica: relink the PostgreSQL binaries to the required version to fix the incompatible server version error:

    1. Edit /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb and specify the required version:

      postgresql['version'] = 13
    2. Reconfigure GitLab:

      sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure
    3. Check the binaries are relinked. The binaries distributed for PostgreSQL vary between major releases, it's typical to have a small number of incorrect symbolic links:

      sudo ls -al /opt/gitlab/embedded/bin | grep postgres
  5. Replica: ensure PostgreSQL is fully reinitialized for the specified version:

    cd /var/opt/gitlab/postgresql
    sudo rm -rf data
    sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure
  6. Replica: optionally monitor the database in two additional terminal sessions:

    • Disk use increases as pg_basebackup runs. Track progress of the replica initialization with:

      cd /var/opt/gitlab/postgresql
      watch du -sh data
    • Monitor the process in the logs:

      sudo gitlab-ctl tail patroni
  7. Replica: Start Patroni to reinitialize the replica:

    sudo gitlab-ctl start patroni
  8. Replica: After it completes, remove the hardcoded version from /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb:

    1. Edit /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb and remove postgresql['version'].

    2. Reconfigure GitLab:

      sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure
    3. Check the correct binaries are linked:

      sudo ls -al /opt/gitlab/embedded/bin | grep postgres
  9. Check the cluster status on all nodes:

    sudo gitlab-ctl patroni members

Repeat this procedure on the other replica if required.

Issues with other components

If you're running into an issue with a component not outlined here, be sure to check the troubleshooting section of their specific documentation page: