I’ll keep this one short and sweet. For those of you that have tried to install PostgreSQL (mine was 8.3.7-1) on Windows Vista and got the error Database Cluster Initialisation Failed error at the end of the install, read this.
The problem is that Vista has some safety features associated with setting permissions on the Program Files folder. Basically, even if you are an admin, you can’t change permissions on some folders like Program Files and Windows folder itself. This causes initdb to be unable to create some folders and the database cluster. What this means for you is that you need to install PostgreSQL in another folder that is not inside Program Files.
By the way, if you have forgotten your Postgres account password while installing the first time, just open a Command Prompt in Vista (If you don’t know how, Google for it). Then type the command “net user”. You will see a list of users on your computer. Find Postgre’s account. It’s usually “postgres“. Then you need to change its password by typing “net user postgres new_password” where new_password is… well, a new password for the account. You will be needing that postgres account during install. You will need admin privileges to do this change however.
Firstly, uninstall any failed installations. Use the Control Panel or the PostgreSQL installer in the install folder.
During the install, you will be prompted to choose where you want to install the program. Just select a location in another place. Like “C:\PostgreSQL” or something similar. It may even be on your desktop. But not inside Program Files. Not inside Windows folder. However, it’s not as easy. Bear with me.
After the install, you will still see that darned error message (or something like non-fatal error occured). Do not despair! (For Windows Power Users, we are just assigning Full Control permission to Postgres account on the new PostgreSQL install folder). For other users, read on if you don’t know how to do it.
Go to where you just installed PostgreSQL. In this case, the C: drive. There, right-click on the folder (usually called PostgreSQL), and go to Properties – Security tab. Click on the Edit button. You will now see some usernames and other stuff. Click on the Add button. In the “Enter the object names to select” box, enter “postgres” and press Check. Postgres’ user account should appear there. Click on Ok.
Now from the “Group or Usernames” box, select the Postgres account. In the window below, with lots of checkboxes, assign permission “Full Control” in the Allow Column to it. Note, if you don’t want to allow full control, just give it read/write. But I just went ahead and gave it Full Control. (I was tired and annoyed. The “World’s most advanced open source database” had failed to install!). Click on Ok and wait a bit for permissions to be applied.
Then, just do a re-install. Do not uninstall anything. Just run the setup again. It’ll say that a PostgreSQL install folder already exists and other stuff. Just click on Next until the install finishes. If you see “file cannot be copied” errors, click on the “ignore” button when needed.
That’s it. PostgreSQL should be up and running on Vista now. Hope it works for you too as it did for me, and that my guide is helpful to anybody. If it works, or if you have other solutions, let us know. Thanks for reading!