Initial Setup

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    Initial setup

    WARNING: Please see the introduction regarding the current status of the Business Continuity feature within the open-source/community supported version of GoCD.

    Assumption: You already have a setup resembling Figure 1, with a GoCD Server which uses an external PostgreSQL database. To configure GoCD to use PostgreSQL please refer to the configure PostgreSQL documentation.

    Enable replication on the primary PostgreSQL instance

    The recommended replication setup is PostgreSQL streaming replication with log shipping . In this case, the two PostgreSQL servers, called “Primary” and “Standby”, will be setup such that the standby continuously replicates the primary. Along with this, log shipping will be setup. This requires a network drive which is shared between the two PostgreSQL servers. Log shipping allows the replication to continue even if one of the PostgreSQL servers has to be restarted briefly.

    1. As log shipping needs a shared drive, it is assumed that you have a shared drive mounted at /share, on both the PostgreSQL server hosts. This acts as a bridge between the two.

    2. On the primary PostgreSQL instance, enable a replication user by running this as superuser:


      In the example above, the replication user, “rep”, has a password “rep”.

    3. Then, give the replication user enough permission to login to the primary PostgreSQL instance, from the standby PostgreSQL instance. This is done by adding this to pg_hba.conf:

        # pg_hba.conf
        host  replication  rep  <ip_address_of_standby_postgres_server>/32  md5

      Note: Usually the file pg_hba.conf is found either in the PostgreSQL data directory or in /etc/postgres<pg-version>/main/pg_hba.conf. This depends on your setup of PostgreSQL and where you ran initdb. Please refer to the pg_hba.conf guide in the PostgreSQL documentation, for more details, including information about reducing the strictness of the IP Address filter in the lines above.

    4. The primary PostgreSQL server is nearly ready. It now needs to be setup to allow replication. Update postgresql.conf with these options:

        archive_mode = on
        archive_command = 'test ! -f /share/primary_wal/%f && (mkdir -p /share/primary_wal || true) && cp %p /share/primary_wal/%f && chmod 644 /share/primary_wal/%f'
        archive_timeout = 60
        max_wal_senders = 1
        hot_standby = on
        wal_level = hot_standby
        wal_keep_segments = 30

      Learn more about these options at Archiving WAL files and Replication.

    5. Restart the primary PostgreSQL server.

    Setup a standby PostgreSQL instance for replication

    Given that the primary PostgreSQL instance has been setup for replication, the standby PostgreSQL instance needs to be setup with an initial backup of the primary instance, and then setup to continuously replicate from the primary.

    1. Ensure that the version of the PostgreSQL instance on the standby is the same as the version of that on the primary.

    2. Choose an empty directory to serve as the data directory for the new instance, and create a base backup from the primary PostgreSQL instance. This is how a base backup is taken:

        pg_basebackup -h <ip_address_of_primary_postgres_server> -U rep -D <empty_data_directory_on_standby>

      Note: Please note that this is a backup of the whole instance, and not a specific database. PostgreSQL streaming replication always works with the whole instance.

      At this point you should also look at your Secondary PostgreSQL Connection and Authentication settings for the secondary server. For e.g you might have to alter postgresql.conf on your secondary server and change “listen_addresses” property, so that it reflects the secondary node host.

      Note: If you choose to use rsync or a manual copy instead, for security reasons, please ensure that only the postgres user has read/write access to the data folder.

    3. Setup the standby instance to replicate from the primary instance. Create a file called recovery.conf in the PostgreSQL data directory (the one used in pg_basebackup above) and populate it with:

      On Linux:

        standby_mode = on
        primary_conninfo = 'host=<ip_address_of_primary_postgres_server> port=5432 user=rep password=rep'
        restore_command = 'cp /sharedDrive/primary_wal/%f %p'
        trigger_file = '/path/to/postgresql.trigger.5432'

      On Windows:

        standby_mode = on
        primary_conninfo = 'host=<ip_address_of_primary_postgres_server> port=5432 user=rep password=rep'
        restore_command = 'copy \\sharedDrive\primary_wal\%f %p'
        trigger_file = '\path\to\postgresql.trigger.5432'

      You may optionally setup archive cleanup. This would keep clearing the WAL files from the archive location as the changes are replicated successfully to the standby postgres server. Just append the below lines to recovery.conf

      On Linux:

        archive_cleanup_command = 'pg_archivecleanup /sharedDrive/primary_wal %r'

      On Windows:

        archive_cleanup_command = 'pg_archivecleanup \\sharedDrive\primary_wal %r'

      References for these options are at: Recovery Configuration.

      Note: The trigger file is a file whose presence (creation) makes the standby PostgreSQL instance become the primary PostgreSQL instance. It’ll stop replication from happening, and the instance starts accepting write requests (updates to databases). Ensure that this file can only be created by an administrator, and accessible by the postgres user.

    4. Restart the standby PostgreSQL server.

    Setup a standby (secondary) GoCD Server

    Given that a standby PostgreSQL instance has been setup for replication, we can now setup the standby GoCD Server, to use that standby PostgreSQL instance. Since that PostgreSQL instance will be in a read-only mode, the standby GoCD Server needs to be told to start itself in a read-only mode as well.

    1. Ensure that the version of the GoCD Server on the standby is the same as the version of that on the primary.

    2. Create a file business-continuity-token in the GoCD server config directory (usually /etc/go/ on Linux and <GoCD server installation dir>/config/ on Windows) on the primary server. Setup plain text business continuity token in this file, which will only be used for Business Continuity sync and login.

      Sample file:

        user = password

      Note: Please provide only single set of business continuity token in this file. The Business Continuity token passed in the token file is only used for Business Continuity sync log in and is independent of any existing roles configured within GoCD using any authentication/authorization plugins.

      Note: Users upgrading from previous versions of GoCD server (18.7.0 or earlier) will need to setup this file as the plugin will no longer support OAuth client based setup.

    3. Get a base backup of the primary GoCD Server.

      • On Linux: Copy over entire config directory /etc/go/ and file /usr/share/go-server/wrapper-config/wrapper-properties.conf from primary server to the standby server.

      • On Windows: Copy over entire config directory <GoCD server installation dir>/config from primary server to the standby server.

      Note: Please verify that the user account under which the GoCD server process runs has the appropriate permissions to the files and directories that were copied on to the standby server.

    4. Setup to point to the standby PostgreSQL instance. Usually this file is extremely similar to the /etc/go/ (on Linux) Or <GoCD server installation dir>/config/ (on Windows) file of the primary GoCD Server, with the database host changed to point to the standby PostgreSQL instance.

    5. Start up the standby GoCD Server in passive state, by setting the system property go.server.mode to the value standby and the system property bc.primary.url to the base URL of the primary GoCD Server (for instance, https://primarygo). So, your standby GoCD Server instance should be started with arguments such as:

        -Dgo.server.mode=standby -Dbc.primary.url="https://primarygo"

      Edit the file wrapper-properties.conf on your GoCD server and add the following options (replace primarygo with the IP of your primary GoCD server). The location of the wrapper-properties.conf can be found in the installation documentation of the GoCD server.

        # We recommend that you begin with the index `100` and increment the index for each system property"https://primarygo

      If you’re running on docker using one of the supported GoCD server images, set the environment variable GOCD_SERVER_JVM_OPTIONS, replacing primarygo with the IP of your primary GoCD server:

        docker run -e "GOCD_SERVER_JVM_OPTIONS=-Dgo.server.mode=standby -Dbc.primary.url="https://primarygo" ...
    6. After you have completed all of the aforementioned steps and restarted standby GoCD server, login to the standby dashboard using the business continuity token you setup in Step2 above in business-continuity-token file.

    7. On successful login, you will be presented with a screen like this, or you can visit the URL https://<sec-server>:<port>/go/add-on/business-continuity/admin/dashboard to check the sync status :

      Figure 5: Standby GoCD Server - Done!

      This is the standby GoCD Server dashboard. It tells you about the state of the sync and automatically updates every few seconds.


    1. Files which get synced

    • Plugins get synced.
    • From the GoCD Server config directory, these files get synced:
      • cruise-config.xml
      • cipher.aes
      • jetty.xml
      • go.feature.toggles (if it exists)

    Note: It is important to note that nothing else gets synced. Some files which do not get synced, and you might want to consider syncing separately are mentioned below

    Notable files which don’t get synced are:

    • Logs (usually from /var/log/go-server)
    • config.git (contains history of your config changes. Usually in /var/lib/go-server/db/config.git)

    2. Other options and ideas

    DNS setup for the virtual IP

    If you have control over your organization’s DNS server, or can persuade an administrator with privileges to help, it is recommended to setup a DNS record pointing to the virtual IP so that any switches to the virtual IP, pointing from a primary GoCD Server to a standby GoCD Server will seamlessly work for all users.

    Since the “value” of the virtual IP never changes, the DNS record does not need to have a low TTL (time to live).

    Setup to ease changing of GoCD Server from standby to primary

    Just like the PostgreSQL recovery trigger file, you can setup a trigger file which helps you control whether a GoCD Server starts up in an active state or in a standby mode (the go.server.mode system property). In a startup file such as /etc/default/go-server, you can have a few lines such as:

      if [ -e "/etc/go/" ]; then
        export GOCD_SERVER_JVM_OPTIONS="$GOCD_SERVER_JVM_OPTIONS -Dgo.server.mode=standby -Dbc.primary.url=https://primarygo"

    This will ensure that the GoCD Server starts up in standby mode only if the file /etc/go/ exists. When you want to switch this GoCD Server to become primary instead, you can remove this file, and the GoCD Server, upon restart, will not start in standby mode.