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35.4. Server-Side Functions

Server-side functions tailored for manipulating large objects from SQL are listed in Table 35.1.

Table 35.1. SQL-Oriented Large Object Functions




lo_from_bytea ( loid oid, data bytea ) → oid

Creates a large object and stores data in it. If loid is zero then the system will choose a free OID, otherwise that OID is used (with an error if some large object already has that OID). On success, the large object's OID is returned.

lo_from_bytea(0, '\xffffff00')24528

lo_put ( loid oid, offset bigint, data bytea ) → void

Writes data starting at the given offset within the large object; the large object is enlarged if necessary.

lo_put(24528, 1, '\xaa')

lo_get ( loid oid [, offset bigint, length integer ] ) → bytea

Extracts the large object's contents, or a substring thereof.

lo_get(24528, 0, 3)\xffaaff

There are additional server-side functions corresponding to each of the client-side functions described earlier; indeed, for the most part the client-side functions are simply interfaces to the equivalent server-side functions. The ones just as convenient to call via SQL commands are lo_creat, lo_create, lo_unlink, lo_import, and lo_export. Here are examples of their use:

    name            text,
    raster          oid

SELECT lo_creat(-1);       -- returns OID of new, empty large object

SELECT lo_create(43213);   -- attempts to create large object with OID 43213

SELECT lo_unlink(173454);  -- deletes large object with OID 173454

INSERT INTO image (name, raster)
    VALUES ('beautiful image', lo_import('/etc/motd'));

INSERT INTO image (name, raster)  -- same as above, but specify OID to use
    VALUES ('beautiful image', lo_import('/etc/motd', 68583));

SELECT lo_export(image.raster, '/tmp/motd') FROM image
    WHERE name = 'beautiful image';

The server-side lo_import and lo_export functions behave considerably differently from their client-side analogs. These two functions read and write files in the server's file system, using the permissions of the database's owning user. Therefore, by default their use is restricted to superusers. In contrast, the client-side import and export functions read and write files in the client's file system, using the permissions of the client program. The client-side functions do not require any database privileges, except the privilege to read or write the large object in question.


It is possible to GRANT use of the server-side lo_import and lo_export functions to non-superusers, but careful consideration of the security implications is required. A malicious user of such privileges could easily parlay them into becoming superuser (for example by rewriting server configuration files), or could attack the rest of the server's file system without bothering to obtain database superuser privileges as such. Access to roles having such privilege must therefore be guarded just as carefully as access to superuser roles. Nonetheless, if use of server-side lo_import or lo_export is needed for some routine task, it's safer to use a role with such privileges than one with full superuser privileges, as that helps to reduce the risk of damage from accidental errors.

The functionality of lo_read and lo_write is also available via server-side calls, but the names of the server-side functions differ from the client side interfaces in that they do not contain underscores. You must call these functions as loread and lowrite.