Install Apache Cassandra on Debian 9

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After completing this guide, you will have a single-node, production-ready installation of Apache Cassandra hosted on your Linode running Debian 9. This tutorial will cover basic configuration options, as well as harden database security.

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.

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, at minimum, you should add a limited user account.

Install Cassandra and Supporting Applications

In this section, you will install package dependencies, Java, Cassandra, and update your Linux system software.

  1. Update your system’s software packages:

     sudo apt update
  2. Install the required package dependencies:

     sudo apt install apt-transport-https ca-certificates wget dirmngr gnupg software-properties-common
  3. Import the repository’s GPG key using wget and add the AdoptOpenJDK APT repository:

     wget -qO - | sudo apt-key add -
     sudo add-apt-repository --yes
  4. Install Java 8:

     sudo apt update
     sudo apt install adoptopenjdk-8-hotspot
  5. Verify the version of Java you just installed:

     java -version
  6. Add Cassandra’s GPG keys:

     wget -q -O - | sudo apt-key add -
  7. Add the Cassandra repository to your Debian system’s sources list:

     sudo sh -c 'echo "deb 311x main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/cassandra.list'
    You may want to follow the link to the Apache repository to confirm that “40x” is the latest available version.
  8. Update your packages index and install Cassandra:

     sudo apt update
     sudo apt install cassandra

Activate Cassandra

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

     sudo systemctl enable cassandra
     sudo systemctl start cassandra
     sudo 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 the following:

    |/ 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 receive connection errors, open the file in a text editor.

     sudo vim /etc/cassandra/

    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: Debian /etc/cassandra/conf/
    . . .
    JVM_OPTS="$JVM_OPTS -Djava.rmi.server.hostname=<public name>"
    . . .
    • Restart Cassandra after you’ve finished updating the file:

        sudo systemctl restart cassandra
    • 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

In this section, you will enable user login authentication. You can also configure other security settings based on your project’s needs.

  1. Make a backup of the Cassandra configuration file cassandra.yaml.

    sudo 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.
    sudo vim /etc/cassandra/cassandra.yaml
  3. Match the following variables in the file to the values shown in the example file. If any values are commented out, uncomment them. The rest of the properties found in the cassandra.yaml 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.

    File: Debian /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
    . . .

    More information about this file can be found in the Cassandra Configuration File guide in Apache’s official documentation.

  4. After editing the configuration file restart Cassandra.

     sudo systemctl 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:

    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 and replace the username and password with your new credentials:

     cqlsh -u new-super-user -p my-secure-password
  5. Remove the elevated permissions from the Cassandra account:

     ALTER ROLE cassandra WITH PASSWORD = 'cassandra' AND SUPERUSER = false AND LOGIN = false;
  6. Grant all permissions to the new superuser account. Replace the brackets and contents inside with your superuser account username:

  7. Log out by typing exit.

Edit The Console Configuration File

The cqlshrc file holds configuration settings that influence user preferences and how Cassandra performs certain tasks.

Ensure you complete the steps in this section using your limited user account. This account will need sudo privileges, if it does not already have them.

Since your Cassandra username and password can be stored in plaintext, the cqlshrc 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 complete this section as the root user. 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, and ensure you replace the superuser and password value in brackets with your own values. Details for this file can be found in the Configuring cqlsh From a File guide on the DataStax site.

    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.

  4. Update the cqlshrc file and directory with the following permissions:

     sudo chmod 440 ~/.cassandra/cqlshrc
     sudo chmod 700 ~/.cassandra
  5. Login by typing the command below. You will be prompted to enter your password. The cqlsh command terminal should open, and your superuser name should be visible in the command line.

    cqlsh -u superuser

    You can also login by providing your username and password:

    cqlsh -u superuser -p password

Rename the Cluster

In this section, you will update your default cluster name from “Test Cluster” to your desired name.

  1. Log into the cqlsh control terminal if you are not already logged in.

     cqlsh -u superuser
  2. Replace [new_name] with your new cluster name:

    UPDATE system.local SET cluster_name = '[new_name]' WHERE KEY = 'local';
  3. Type exit to return to the Linux command line.

  4. Edit the cassandra.yaml file and replace the value in the cluster_name variable with the new cluster name you just set.

    sudo vim /etc/cassandra/cassandra.yaml
  5. Save and close.

  6. From the Linux terminal (not cqlsh) clear the system cache. This command will not disturb your node’s data.

     nodetool flush system
  7. Restart Cassandra:

    sudo systemctl restart cassandra
  8. Log in with cqlsh and verify the new cluster name is visible.

     cqlsh -u superuser
    Connected to my-cluster-name at
    [cqlsh 5.0.1 | Cassandra 4.0 | CQL spec 3.4.5 | Native protocol v4]
    Use HELP for help.

Where To Go From Here

Be sure to check out the links in the More Information 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 Adding Nodes to an Existing Cluster for more information.

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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