Setting up a Hadoop cluster using VirtualBox

This Post is a reproduction of Christian Javet’s post at :


High-level diagram of the VirtualBox VM cluster running Hadoop nodes

The overall approach is simple. We create a virtual machine, we configure it with the required parameters and settings to act as a cluster node (specially the network settings). This referenced virtual machine is then cloned as many times as there will be nodes in the Hadoop cluster. Only a limited set of changes are then needed to finalize the node to be operational (only the hostname and IP address need to be defined).

In this article, I created a 4 nodes cluster. The first node, which will run most of the cluster services, requires more memory (8GB) than the other 3 nodes (2GB). Overall we will allocate 14GB of memory, so ensure that the host machine has sufficient memory, otherwise this will impact your experience negatively.


The prerequisites for this tutorial is that you should have the latest VirtualBox installed (you can download it for free); We will be using the CentOS 6.5 Linux distribution (you can download the CentOS x86_64bit DVD iso image).

Base VM Image creation

VM creation

Create the reference virtual machine, with the following parameters:

  • Bridge network
  • Enough disk space (more than 40GB)
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • Setup the DVD to point to the CentOS iso image

when you install CentOS, you can specify the option ‘expert text’, for a faster OS installation with minimum set of packages.

Network Configuration

Perform changes in the following files to setup the network configuration that will allow all cluster nodes to interact.
















Initialize the network by restarting the network services:

$> chkconfig iptables off
$> /etc/init.d/network restart


Installation of VM Additions

You should now update all the packages and reboot the virtual machine:

$> yum update
$> reboot


In the VirtualBox menu, select Devices, and then Insert Guest…. This insert a DVD with the iso image of the guest additions in the DVD Player of the VM, mount the DVD with the following commands to access this DVD:

$> mkdir /media/VBGuest
$> mount -r /dev/cdrom /media/VBGuest


Follow instructions from this web page.

Setup Cluster Hosts

Define all the hosts in the /etc/hosts file in order to simplify the access, in case you do not have a DNS setup where this can be defined. Obviously add more hosts if you want to have more nodes in your cluster.

/etc/hosts hadoop1 hadoop2 hadoop3 hadoop4


Setup SSH

To also simplify the access between hosts, install and setup SSH keys and defined them as already authorized

$> yum -y install perl openssh-clients
$> ssh-keygen (type enter, enter, enter)
$> cd ~/.ssh
$> cp authorized_keys


Modify the ssh configuration file. Uncomment the following line and change the value to no; this will prevent the question when connecting with SSH to the host.


StrictHostKeyChecking no


Shutdown and Clone

At this stage, shutdown the system with the following command:

$> init 0


We will now create the server nodes that will be members of the cluster.

in VirtualBox, clone the base server, using the ‘Linked Clone’ option and name the nodes hadoop1, hadoop2, hadoop3 and hadoop4.

For the first node (hadoop1), change the memory settings to 8GB of memory. Most of the roles will be installed on this node, and therefore it is important that it have sufficient memory available.

Clones Customization

For every node, proceed with the following operations:

Modify the hostname of the server, change the following line in the file:




Where [n] = 1..4 (up to the number of nodes)

Modify the fixed IP address of the server, change the following line in the file:




Where [n] = 1..4 (up to the number of nodes)

Let’s restart the networking services and reboot the server, so that the above changes takes effect:

$> /etc/init.d/network restart
$> init 6


at this stage we have four running virtual machines with CentOS correctly configured.

Four Virtual Machines running on VirtualBox, ready to be setup in the Cloudera cluster.

Install Cloudera Manager on hadoop1

Download and run the Cloudera Manager Installer, which will simplify greatly the rest of the installation and setup process.

$> curl -O
$> chmod +x cloudera-manager-installer.bin
$> ./cloudera-manager-installer.bin


Use a web browser and connect to (or if you have not added the hostnames into a DNS or hosts file).

To continue the installation, you will have to select the Cloudera free license version. You will then have to define which nodes will be used in the cluster. Just enter all the nodes you have defined in the previous steps( separated by a space. Click on the “Search” button. You can then used the root password (or the SSH keys you have generated) to automate the connectivty to the different nodes. Install all packages and services onto the 1st node.

Once this is done, you will select additional service components; just select everything by default. The installation will continue and will complete.

Using the Hadoop Cluster

Now that we have an operational Hadoop cluster, there are two main interfaces that you will use to operate the cluster: Cloudera Manager and Hue.

Cloudera Manager

Use a web browser and connect to (or if you have not added the hostnames into a DNS or hosts file).

Cloudera Manager homepage, presenting cluster health dashboards


Similarly to Cloudera Manager, you can access the Hue administration site by accessing:, where you will be able to access the different services that you have installed on the cluster.

Hue interface, and here more specifically, an Impala saved queries window.


I have been able to create a small Hadoop cluster in probably less than a hour, largely thanks to the Cloudera Manager Installer, which simplifies the installation to the simplest of operation. It is now possible to execute and use the various examples installed on the cluster, as well as understand the interactions between the nodes. Comments and remarks are welcome!



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