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Last pushed: 2 months ago
Short Description
Perm is an extension of PostgreSQL with support for provenance.
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Perm is an extended PostgreSQL server with support for capturing provenance of SQL queries on fly. Provenance is exposed though several SQL extensions. For an overview of the research behind Perm see here.


All ways of accessing PostgreSQL work for Perm as well. For instance, using the psql command line client. For example, to connect to a database postgres run:

psql postgres

Perm extends SQL with new language constructs for requesting provenance. If you add the PROVENANCE keyword after the SELECT keyword in a query than this instructs Perm to retrieve the provenance of this query, e.g.,

testdb=# SELECT * FROM x;
 a | b 
 1 | 1
 2 | 2
 3 | 3
 4 | 0
(4 rows)

testdb=# SELECT a FROM x;
(4 rows)

 a | prov_public_x_a | prov_public_x_b 
 1 |               1 |               1
 2 |               2 |               2
 3 |               3 |               3
 4 |               4 |               0
(4 rows)



We provide a Perm installation as a docker container. To get this container run:

docker pull iitdbgroup/perm

To start the perm server and expose its port 5432 to the host:

docker run --name myperm -d -p 5432:5432 iitdbgroup/perm

either connect with any PostgreSQL client (if installed on the host)

psql -U perm -d testdb -p 5432 -h localhost

or by running psql in the docker container itself:

docker exec -ti myperm /home/perm/install/bin/psql -U perm -d testdb


We currently do not offer a precompiled binary. The following instructions explain how to install Perm from source. Perm is known to run on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. Here we just give an overview. For a more detailed version read the INSTALL file in the main source directory. Since Perm is a modified PostgreSQL 8.3 server, the installation process is almost the same as for PostgreSQL. This means the excellent PostgreSQL documentation is a good source for figuring out how to solve problems with the installation process and how to use the system.

Required Packages

  • Flex 2.5.4 or later
  • Bison 1.875 or later
  • libxslt
  • libxml
  • libz
  • ISO/ANSI C Compiler preferably gcc
  • GNU make

Installation Steps

Clone the github repository

git clone

to install everything under INSTALLDIR and create a cluster (postgres term for a data directory) at CLUSTERDIR change to the main source code directory and run the following commands:

cd perm
./configure --with-libxml --with-libxslt --prefix=INSTALLDIR
make install
INSTALLDIR/bin/postgres -D CLUSTERDIR >logfile 2>&1 &
INSTALLDIR/bin/createdb test
INSTALLDIR/bin/psql test
test=# CREATE LANGUAGE plpgsql;
test=# \i ./contrib/xml2/pgxml.sql

The first three steps configure, compile, and install the Perm binaries. The fourth and fifth step create a cluster (a place in the file system that postgres uses to store databases on disk). The sixth step starts the Perm server. The seventh and eighth step create a new database named test and connect to this database using the standard postgres client (psql). Finally, the last two steps install PL/PGSQL as a procedural language for this database and create several XML related functions.

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