Skip to main content

Set up a machine for Database Lab Engine

Prepare a machine

Create an EC2 instance with Ubuntu 18.04 or 20.04, and add an EBS volume to store data. You can find detailed instructions on how to create an AWS EC2 instance here (if you want to use Google Cloud, see the GCP documentation).

(optional) Ports need to be open in the Security Group being used

You will need to allow working with the following ports (outbound rules in your Security Group):

  • 22: to connect to the instance using SSH
  • 2345: to work with Database Lab Engine API (can be changed in the Database Lab Engine configuration file)
  • 6000-6100: to connect to PostgreSQL clones (this is default port range used in the Database Lab Engine configuration file, can be chanfed if needed)

For real-life use, it is not a good idea to open ports to the public. Instead, it is recommended to use VPN or SSH port forwarding to access both Database Lab API and PostgreSQL clones, or to enforce encryption for all connections using NGINX with SSL and configuring SSL in PostgreSQL configuration.

Additionally, to be able to install software, allow accessing external resources using HTTP/HTTPS (edit inbound rule in your Security Group):

  • 80 for HTTP
  • 443 for HTTPS

Here is how the inbound and outbound rules in your Security Group may look like:

Database Lab architecture

Database Lab architecture

Install Docker

If needed, you can find the detailed installation guides for Docker here.

Install dependencies:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y \
apt-transport-https \
ca-certificates \
curl \
gnupg-agent \

Install Docker:

curl -fsSL | sudo apt-key add -

sudo add-apt-repository \
"deb [arch=amd64] \
$(lsb_release -cs) \

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y \
docker-ce \
docker-ce-cli \


Further, we will need $DBLAB_DISK environment variable. It must contain the device name corresponding the disk where all the Database Lab Engine data will be stored.

To understand what needs to be specified in $DBLAB_DISK in your case, check the output of lsblk:

sudo lsblk

Some examples:

  • AWS local ephemeral NVMe disks; EBS volumes for instances built on the Nitro system:

    $ sudo lsblk
    nvme0n1 259:0 0 8G 0 disk
    └─nvme0n1p1 259:1 0 8G 0 part /
    nvme1n1 259:2 0 777G 0 disk

    $ export DBLAB_DISK="/dev/nvme1n1"
  • AWS EBS volumes for older (pre-Nitro) EC2 instances:

    $ sudo lsblk
    xvda 202:0 0 8G 0 disk
    └─xvda1 202:1 0 8G 0 part /
    xvdb 202:16 0 777G 0 disk

    $ export DBLAB_DISK="/dev/xvdb"

Set up either ZFS or LVM to enable thin cloning

ZFS is a recommended way to enable thin cloning in Database Lab. LVM is also available, but has certain limitations:

  • much less flexible disk space consumption and risks for a clone to be destroyed during massive operations in it
  • inability to work with multiple snapshots ("time travel"), cloning always happens based on the most recent version of data

Install ZFS:

sudo apt-get install -y zfsutils-linux

Create a new ZFS storage pool (make sure $DBLAB_DISK has the correct value, see the previous step!):

sudo zpool create -f \
-O compression=on \
-O atime=off \
-O recordsize=128k \
-O logbias=throughput \
-m /var/lib/dblab/dblab_pool \
dblab_pool \

If you're going to keep the state of DLE up-to-date with the source (physicalRestore.sync.enabled: true in the DLE config), then consider lower values for recordsize. Using recordsize=128k might give you a better compression ratio and performance of massive IO-bound operations like the creation of an index, but worse performance of WAL replay, so the lag can be higher. And vice versa, with recordsize=8k, the performance of WAL replay will be better, but the trade-off is a lower compression ratio and longer duration of index creation.

And check the result using zfs list and lsblk, it has to be like this:

$ sudo zfs list
dblab_pool 106K 777G 24K /var/lib/dblab/dblab_pool

$ sudo lsblk
nvme0n1 259:0 0 8G 0 disk
└─nvme0n1p1 259:1 0 8G 0 part /
nvme1n1 259:0 0 777G 0 disk
├─nvme1n1p1 259:3 0 777G 0 part
└─nvme1n1p9 259:4 0 8M 0 part