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White Elephant

White Elephant is a Hadoop log aggregator and dashboard which enables visualization of Hadoop cluster utilization across users.


Quick Start

To try out the server with some test data:

cd server

Then visit http://localhost:3000. It may take a minute for the test data to load.

Hadoop Version Compatibility

White Elephant is compiled and tested against Hadoop 1.0.3 and should work with any 1.0.x version. Hadoop 2.0 is not yet supported.


The server is a JRuby web application. In a production environment it can be deployed to tomcat and reads aggregated usage data directly from Hadoop. This data is stored in an in-memory database provided by HyperSQL. Charting is provided by Rickshaw.

Getting started

To get started using the server, first set up the environment:

cd server

The default target does several things, among them:

  • Installs JRuby to a local directory under .rbenv
  • Installs Ruby gems to the above directory
  • Downloads JARs
  • Creates test data under data/usage

At this point you should be able to start the server:


You can now visit http://localhost:3000. It may take a minute for the test data to load.

This uses trinidad to run the JRuby web app in development mode. Since it is in development mode the app assumes local data should be used, which it looks for in the directory specified in config.yml.


The server configuration is contained in config.yml. You can see a sample in sample_config.yml.

When run in development mode using ./, sample_config.yml is used and it follows the settings specified under local. The only configurable parameter here is file_pattern, which specifies where to load the usage data from on local disk.

When packaged as a WAR it runs in production mode and uses configuration specified under hadoop, the assumption being that the aggregated usage data will be available there. The following parameter must be specified:

  • file_pattern: Glob pattern to load usage files from Hadoop
  • libs: Directories containing Hadoop JARs (to be added to the classpath)
  • conf_dir: Directory containing Hadoop configuration (to be added to the classpath)
  • principal: User name used to access secure Hadoop
  • keytab: Path to keytab file for user to access secure Hadoop

White Elephant does not assume a specific version of Hadoop, so the JARs are not packaged in the WAR. Therefore the path to the Hadoop JARs must be specified in the configuration.


To build a WAR which can be deployed to tomcat:

ant war -Dconfig.path=<path-to-config>

The config file you specify will be packaged as config.yml within the WAR. See sample_config.yml as an example for how to write the config file.

Hadoop Log Uploading

The script hadoop/scripts/ can be used to upload the Hadoop logs to HDFS so they can be processed. Check its documentation for details.

Hadoop Jobs

There are three Hadoop jobs, all managed by a job executor which keeps track of what work needs to be done.

The first two jobs parse and convert raw job configurations and logging into an easier-to-work-with Avro format. Together, these two datasets can serve as the base data for a variety of usage analytics workflows.

The third and final job reads the Avro-fied log data and aggregates it per hour, writing the data out in Avro format. It essentially builds a data cube which can be easily loaded by the web application into the DB and queried against.


Some sample configuration files can be found under hadoop/config/jobs:

  • Contains most of the configuration
  • white-elephant-full-usage.job: Job file used when processing all logs.
  • white-elephant-incremental-usage.job: Job file used when incrementally processing logs.

The file consists of configuration specific to White Elephant and configuration specifically for Hadoop. All Hadoop configuration parameter begin with hadoop-conf. The two job files just have a single settings incremental and only differ in the value they use for it.

Hadoop Logs

Within is a parameter logs.root. This is the root path where the Hadoop logs are found which are to be parsed. The parsing job assumes the logs are stored in Hadoop under daily directories using the following directory structure:


For example, logs on January 23rd, 2013 for the production cluster may be stored in a directory such as:



To create a zip package containing all files necessary to run the jobs simply run:

ant zip -Djob.config.dir=<path-to-job-config-dir>

The job.config.dir should be the directory containing the .properties and .job files you would like to include in the package.

If you happen to be using Azkaban as your job scheduler of choice then this zip file will work with it as long as you add the Azkaban specific configuration to


After unzipping the zip package you can run using the script. This requires a couple environment variables to be set:

  • HADOOP_CONF_DIR: Hadoop configuration directory
  • HADOOP_LIB_DIR: Hadoop JARs directory

To run the full job:

./ white-elephant-full-usage.job

To run the incremental job:

./ white-elephant-incremental-usage.job

The incremental job is more efficient as it only processes new data. The full job reprocesses everything.


White Elephant is open source and freely available under the Apache 2 license. As always, we welcome contributors, so send us your pull requests.

For help please see the discussion group.


White Elephant is built using a suite of great open source projects. Just to name a few:


Copyright 2012 LinkedIn, Inc

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.


Hadoop log aggregator and dashboard







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