Installing Apache Cassandra on Ubuntu 18.04 and CentOS 7

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Introduction to Apache Cassandra

The Cassandra NoSQL database is ideal for situations that require maximum data redundancy and uptime, ease of horizontal scaling across multiple unique servers, and rapidly evolving project demands during the development life cycle which would otherwise be heavily restricted by traditional relational database implementations. Apache Cassandra is an open-source application that is managed in a simple command line interface using the Cassandra Query Language, or CQL. CQL is syntactically similar to the Structured Query Language, making it easy to pick up for those already familiar with SQL.

After completing this guide, you will have a single-node, production-ready installation of Apache Cassandra hosted on your Linode. This tutorial will cover basic configuration options, as well as harden database security. If the instructions differ between the Ubuntu and CentOS distros, they will be presented in sections underneath the bolded names of the distributions. In order to successfully execute the commands in this guide, you will need to run them as the “root” user, or log in using an account with root privileges, prefixing each command with sudo.

Install Cassandra

Before You Begin

  1. Complete the Getting Started guide for setting up a new Linode.
  2. While it is recommended you complete the entire Securing Your Server guide, it will be necessary at least to possess a limited user account.

Add Repositories and GPG Keys

Ubuntu 18.04

  1. Add the Java repository:

    add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/java
  2. Add the apache repository:

    echo "deb 39x main" |  tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/cassandra.list
    You may want to follow the link to the Apache repository to confirm that “39x” is the latest available version.
  3. Download the two public keys needed to access these repositories:

    gpg --keyserver --recv-keys 749D6EEC0353B12C
    gpg --export --armor 749D6EEC0353B12C | apt-key add -
    gpg --keyserver --recv-keys A278B781FE4B2BDA
    gpg --export --armor A278B781FE4B2BDA | apt-key add -

CentOS 7

  1. Install the “yum-utils” package:

    yum install yum-utils -y
  2. Add the Datastax repository:

    yum-config-manager --add-repo
  3. Add the public key for the datastax repository. Create a directory for the downloaded key:

    mkdir ~/.keys
  4. Navigate to the “.keys” directory you just created and download the public key:

    curl -o repo_key
  5. The key should now be contained in a file called “repo_key”. Install the key with the package manager:

    rpm --import repo_key

Install Cassandra and Supporting Applications

Update the system and install Java along with Cassandra. Answer “yes” to the Java installation prompts regarding the license terms (Ubuntu only). NTP will help keep the Cassandra node synced to the correct time.

  1. Install Cassandra, Java, and NTP:

    Ubuntu 18.04

    apt-get update && apt-get upgrade
    apt-get install oracle-java8-set-default cassandra ntp

    CentOS 7

    yum update && yum upgrade
    yum install java dsc30 cassandra30-tools ntp

Activate Cassandra

  1. Enable Cassandra on system boot and verify that it is running:

    systemctl enable cassandra
    systemctl start cassandra
    systemctl -l status cassandra
  2. Check the status of the Cassandra cluster:

    nodetool status

If UN is displayed in the output, the cluster is working. Your output should resemble this:

    |/ State=Normal/Leaving/Joining/Moving
    --  Address    Load       Tokens       Owns (effective)  Host ID                               Rack
    UN  103.51 KiB  256          100.0%            c43a2db6-8e5f-4b5e-8a83-d9b6764d923d  rack1

If you are receiving connection errors, open the file in a text editor:

Ubuntu 18.04

vim /etc/cassandra/

CentOS 7

vim /etc/cassandra/conf/

Search for -Djava.rmi.server.hostname= in the file. Uncomment this line and add your loopback address or public IP address by replacing <public name> at the end of the line:

File: Ubuntu /etc/cassandra/conf/
. . .

JVM_OPTS="$JVM_OPTS -Djava.rmi.server.hostname=<public name>"

. . .

Restart Cassandra with systemctl restart Cassandra and check the node status nodetool status.

It may take a few seconds for Cassandra to refresh the configuration. If you receive another connection error, try waiting 15 seconds before rechecking the node status.

Configure Cassandra

Enable Security Features

  1. Enable user login authentication. Make a backup of the Cassandra configuration file “cassandra.yaml.”

    The CentOS 7 installation already includes a backup file located at /etc/cassandra/conf/cassandra.yaml.orig.
    cp /etc/cassandra/cassandra.yaml /etc/cassandra/cassandra.yaml.backup
  2. Open “cassandra.yaml” in your preferred text editor:

    Locations of the cassandra.yaml file may differ slightly between distros.

    Ubuntu 18.04

    vim /etc/cassandra/cassandra.yaml

    CentOS 7

    vim /etc/cassandra/conf/cassandra.yaml
  3. Match the following variables in the file to the values shown below. If any values are commented out, uncomment them. The rest of the properties found in the cassandra.yaml config file should be set based on your project’s particular requirements and how you plan to utilize Cassandra. The default configuration should work well for development.

More information on this file can be found by following the Cassandra .yaml Configuration File Overview link in the “External Resources” section.

File: Ubuntu /etc/cassandra/cassandra.yaml
. . .

authenticator: org.apache.cassandra.auth.PasswordAuthenticator
authorizer: org.apache.cassandra.auth.CassandraAuthorizer
role_manager: CassandraRoleManager
roles_validity_in_ms: 0
permissions_validity_in_ms: 0

. . .

After editing the file restart Cassandra.

Add An Administration Superuser

  1. Open the Cassandra command terminal by typing cqlsh. Log in with the credentials shown below for the default user cassandra:

    cqlsh -u cassandra -p cassandra
  2. Create a new superuser. Replace the brackets as well as the content inside with the applicable information:

    [email protected]> CREATE ROLE [new_superuser] WITH PASSWORD = '[secure_password]' AND SUPERUSER = true AND LOGIN = true;
  3. Log out by typing exit.

  4. Log back in with the new superuser account using the new credentials, and remove the elevated permissions from the Cassandra account:

    [email protected]> ALTER ROLE cassandra WITH PASSWORD = 'cassandra' AND SUPERUSER = false AND LOGIN = false;
    [email protected]> REVOKE ALL PERMISSIONS ON ALL KEYSPACES FROM cassandra;
  5. Grant all permissions to the new superuser account. Replace the brackets and contents inside with your superuser account username:

    [email protected]> GRANT ALL PERMISSIONS ON ALL KEYSPACES TO [superuser];
  6. Log out by typing exit.

Edit The Console Configuration File

The cqlshrc file holds configuration settings that influence user preferences on how Cassandra performs certain tasks. Before proceeding, switch from the “root” user to your administrative Linux user account (you need sudo privileges for this).

Since your Cassandra username and password can be stored here in plaintext, this file should only be accessible to your administrative user account, and is designed to be inaccessible to other accounts on your Linux system. Do not set this up as the root user. Caution: Before proceeding, fully evaluate the security risks and consequences to your node cluster before adding the [authentication] section.

  1. Create the file cqlshrc using your preferred text editor. If the ~/.cassandra directory does not exist, create it:

    sudo mkdir ~/.cassandra
    sudo vim ~/.cassandra/cqlshrc
  2. Copy any sections below that you wish to add to your configuration. Details for this file can be found by following the “Cassandra cqlshrc File Configuration Overview” link in the “External Resources” section.

    CentOS 7 users can find a sample file containing all the configuration options at /etc/cassandra/conf/cqlshrc.sample.
    File: ~/.cassandra/cqlshrc
    . . .
    ;; Options that are common to both COPY TO and COPY FROM
    ;; The string placeholder for null values
    ;; For COPY TO, controls whether the first line in the CSV output file will
    ;; contain the column names.  For COPY FROM, specifies whether the first
    ;; line in the CSV file contains column names.
    ;; The string literal format for boolean values
    boolstyle = True,False
    ;; Input login credentials here to automatically login to the Cassandra command line without entering them each time. When this
    ;; is enabled, just type "cqlsh" to start Cassandra.
    ;; Uncomment to automatically use a certain keyspace on login
    ;; keyspace=[keyspace]
    datetimeformat=%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S%z
    ;; The number of digits displayed after the decimal point
    ;; (note that increasing this to large numbers can result in unusual values)
    float_precision = 5
    ;; The encoding used for characters
    encoding = utf8
    . . .
  3. Save and close the file. Update the file and directory with the following permissions:

    sudo chmod 1700 ~/.cassandra/cqlshrc
    sudo chmod 700 ~/.cassandra
  4. If you enabled the auto-login feature, login by typing cqlsh. The command terminal should open, and your superuser name should be visible in the command line.

Rename the Cluster

Update your default cluster name from “Test Cluster” to your desired name.

  1. Login to the control terminal with cqlsh. Replace [new_name] with your new cluster name:

    UPDATE system.local SET cluster_name = '[new_name]' WHERE KEY = 'local';
  2. Edit the cassandra.yaml file and replace the value in the cluster_name variable with the new cluster name you just set.

    Ubuntu 18.04

    vim /etc/cassandra/cassandra.yaml

    CentOS 7

    vim /etc/cassandra/conf/cassandra.yaml
  3. Save and close.

  4. From the Linux terminal (not cqlsh), run nodetool flush system. This will clear the system cache and preserve all data in the node.

  5. Restart Cassandra. Log in with cqlsh and verify the new cluster name is visible.

Where To Go From Here

Be sure to check out the links in the “External Resources” section, which will help you further configure Cassandra to your needs, as well as provide resources to improve your understanding and ability to use Cassandra. To fully utilize the capabilities of Cassandra in a production setting, additional nodes should be added to your cluster. See the companion guide, “Deploy Additional Nodes To The Cassandra Cluster” to get started.

More Information

You may wish to consult the following resources for additional information on this topic. While these are provided in the hope that they will be useful, please note that we cannot vouch for the accuracy or timeliness of externally hosted materials.

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