Stampede is the workflow tool for *nix that Cthulhu intended. It uses make for dependencies, bash for scripting, and cron for scheduling.
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Stampede README

Dean Wampler

Copyright (c) 2013, Dean Wampler, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright (c) 2013, Think Big Analytics, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Welcome to Stampede, the workflow tool that works as Cthulhu intended for *nix systems, using make for dependency management and task seqeuencing, bash for scripting, and cron for scheduling. Stampede is Apache-licensed, open-source software.

Stampede originated as an alternative workflow tool for Hadoop, but it is not limited to Hadoop scenarios.

If you like Stampede, please consider joining the stampede-users Google group and following us on Twitter @StampedeWkFlow. Also, contributions in the form of patches are always welcome and appreciated.


First, clone this repo or expand the distribution archive somewhere useful, e.g., $HOME/stampede.

Since Stampede uses make and bash as its weapon's of choice, run this make command to test Stampede on your system and then install it:

make test install

The tests target is not required, but we recommend it as a sanity check for your environment. The install target will ask you for details like the target installation directory (the default is /usr/local/stampede).

If you don't have syslog on your system, run this command instead, which will skip the syslog-related tests:

make test-core install

Finally, the test target does not test the "extras" included with Stampede, currently limited to Hadoop-specific tools. To test these tools, first ensure that $HADOOP_HOME is defined, then run this command:

make test-extras install

The install target installs everything, whether you want to use syslog and the "extras" or not. They are small and harmless, if left alone in a cold, dark room... ;^)

Next, assuming you installed in /usr/local/stampede/, which we'll call $STAMPEDE_HOME from now on, add $STAMPEDE_HOME/bin to the PATH for any user who plans to use Stampede. Also, the installation will include *nix man pages, so add $STAMPEDE_HOME/man to the MANPATH.

As part of the installation, the installer will ask you if you want a global stampederc file installed in /etc, /etc/sysconfig, or somewhere else. All statements in this file are commented out. If you want to make global changes to Stampede's environment variables, edit this file appropriately. Note these "rc" files won't contain all the possible variables you can define, see $STAMPEDE_HOME/bin/ for the complete list of variables, their default values, and comments that describe them.

Similarly, if you told the installer to copy stampederc file to $HOME/.stampederc, edit that file for your personal tasks.

Whenever you create a new Stampede project, it will also get its own $PROJECT_HOME/.stampederc file, as we discuss next.

Building Java Components

As of this release, there is a small Hadoop application written in Java, in src/hadop/mapreduce-configuration. It is used by the bin/hadoop/mapreduce-prop command. For your convenience, a pre-built jar file is already provided. However, it is built with Java 1.6 (for maximum portability) and Hadoop v1.0.3. So, you may need to rebuild it if you use a different version of Hadoop or you want to use a newer version of Java. See src/hadop/mapreduce-configuration/ for details.


An individual workflow definition is called a stampede.

To create a stampede, run the following command:

stampede create

It will prompt you for properties such as the name of the stampede and the project's working directory.

Edit the .stampederc and makefile created in the project directory to define your workflow. See the $STAMPEDE_HOME/examples for ideas. Note that $STAMPEDE_HOME/bin contains helper scripts to ease the development of workflows. See also Make and Bash Notes in this directory for some tips.

Once a stampede has been created, you can invoke it using this command:

stampede -f /path/to/makefile [options] [make_targets]

For help on the stampede options:

stampede --help

Required Tools

  • bash v3+ - Because OS X ships with an older bash version, all the scripts supplied are v3 compatible. You can use newer constructs if your version of bash supports them.
  • GNU make v3.8+ - The Makefile in this directory that's used to test and install Stampede requires GNU make v3.8+, as do the examples. However, you can adapt your project Makefiles to use any version of make you prefer.
  • cron - If you plan to use cron for scheduling workflows. In fact, Stampede doesn't really do anything with cron itself; we just recommend that you use it first, before adopting something more heavyweight and proprietary. Stampede projects will work fine with any scheduling tool that can invoke shell commands.
  • syslog - If you plan to use the *nix logging facility syslog. See also the Installation section above.
  • Hadoop - Stampede was originally designed as a flyweight option for Hadoop. However, it is not restricted to Hadoop scenarios. All of the Hadoop support consists of helper scripts in $STAMPEDE_HOME/bin/hadoop (and corresponding tests and man pages).

Stampede is mostly agnostic to tool versions. For any particular tool, including its own scripts, Stampede relies on finding the tool in the user's PATH.

Supported Platforms

  • Linux - All recent Linux distributions with bash v3+. However, we have not tested all possible Linux variants!
  • Mac OS X - All recent OS X versions.

Planned Support

Currently, cygwin and similar "Unix on Windows" toolkits are not supported, but only because we haven't tried them. We have tried to avoid any assumptions that would preclude this support. We welcome patches!

Note that as of this writing, support for running Hadoop in Windows environments was just recently announced.


The top-level directory contains the following files, in addition to directories that will be described next:

  • - This file, as well as an HTML version of it.
  • LICENSE - The copyright and license (Apache 2.0).
  • - Frequently-asked Questions.
  • Makefile - The makefile used to test and install Stampede.
  • VERSION - The version number, used by the Makefile for building releases.
  • bin - See the following section.
  • src - The directory for tools implemented with Java. The corresponding jars are prebuilt and included in the distribution, but if you want to build them yourself, see the files in the corresponding directories under src.
  • man - *nix man pages for all the tools.
  • test - Tests for the tools.

Bin Directory

Stampede supplies helper bash scripts in the bin directory and "extras" for specific applications (e.g., Hadoop) in subdirectories. All the scripts that end with .sh are used internally by Stampede. The files without this extension are user-callable utilities for building workflows.

NOTE: All of these tools assume that $STAMPEDE_HOME is defined. This is true when they are called in a stampede workflow, e.g., a Makefile.

bin Utilities

Briefly, here are the utilities in the bin directory. All support a --help option for more information:

  • stampede - The "stampede" (workflow) driver script. It can be invoked manually or by cron. It has several options to configure behavior. Run stampede --help for details.
  • install - Called by make install to install Stampede.
  • abs-path - Return the absolute value for the specified paths.
  • create-project - Called by the stampede script to create new projects.
  • dates - Format dates and perform date arithmetic in a platform-portable way.
  • find-tool - Locate the command for the specified tool (e.g., curl) in the user's path, several possible system directories, or in user-specified directories.
  • from-log-level and to-log-level - Convert from a log-level string, e.g., DEBUG to the corresponding syslog-compatible number and back again.
  • format-log-message - Format messages that are logged. If you want to customize the format beyond what's possible by editing the environment variables STAMPEDE_LOG_TIME_FORMAT and STAMPEDE_LOG_MESSAGE_FORMAT_STRING (see, you can create your own version of this script and drop it in $STAMPEDE_HOME/custom, which is on the PATH BEFORE $STAMPEDE_HOME/bin. See the Custom section below for more details.
  • install - Install Stampede on your system.
  • log-file - Return the name of the log file used by stampede or SYSLOG if syslog is being used.
  • send-email - Use the *nux mail command (if configured) to send alerts.
  • split-string - Split a string on a delimiter and return an array or echo the elements to stdout.
  • stampede-log - Write your own messages to the log file (or syslog) configured for Stampede.
  • success-or-failure - Return one of two strings depending on a "success" flag.
  • true-or-false - Return one of two strings depending on a whether a variable is empty or not.
  • to-seconds - Return the number of seconds specified for an input number of seconds, minutes, or hours.
  • to-time-interval - Like to-seconds, but returns a nicely formatted string.
  • try-for - Repeated attempt an operation for a specified duration of time, until success or timeout.
  • try-until - Like try-for, but tries until a user-specified timestamp.
  • waiting - A sleep(1) wrapper with logging for use in loops, like the one in the try-* scripts.
  • ymd - Return the year, month, and day for the workflow's start time, which defaults to today's date.
  • yesterday-ymd - Return the year, month, and day for the day before the workflow's start time, i.e., yesterday's date, by default. For example, if you need to process yesterday's data, this is a convenient way to compute the correct date.

The following "helper" files are used by these scripts:

  • - Defines global shell variables. Start here to find variables you can set in rc files to configure behavior.
  • - Many "common" bash functions used in several scripts.
  • - Support functions for logging.

bin/hadoop Utilities

Hadoop-specific helper tools are in the bin/hadoop directory. As for the bin scripts, use --help for more information on each tool.

  • mapreduce-prop - Return one or more property definitions for Hadoop MapReduce jobs.
  • hive-prop - Return one or more property definitions for Hive.
  • pig-prop - Return one or more property definitions for Pig.

Note: While the *-prop utilities behave similarly and take similar arguments, there are some differences in the results they produce that reflect differences in how they were implemented. See their *-prop --help messages or man pages for details.

Custom and Contrib Directories

If you want to override the behavior of any particular script, drop a new version in the custom directory (or a subdirectory), which are added to the PATH first.

We intend for contrib to be a place where unsupported, community-contributed tools will go. This directory and any subdirectories will also be added to the path, after custom and bin.

Example Directory

The example directory contains example stampedes that you can adapt for your purposes as well as a sample configuration file.

  • crontab - A sample crontab file.
  • stampederc - A sample file that overrides environment variable definitions to customize the environment or a particular project. See bin/ for recommendations on where to install one or more of these rc files and for the complete list of variables available.
  • hadoop - An example sequencing several Hadoop jobs into a typical ETL and analytics workflow.

Test Directory

Tests of Stampede itself are in the test directory. The tests provide good examples of the individual tools in action. To execute the tests, run make test. This make target won't run the "extras" tests, e.g., for Hadoop. To run all tests, run make test-with-extras.


  • The bin/send-email script requires the *nix mail service to be running on the server hosting the stampede.
  • Supporting both Linux and Mac date commands added some complexity to the code. We might consider deprecating support for the Mac date command (based on a BSD legacy) and instead require Mac users to install the Linux version of date using Homebrew or MacPorts. Feedback welcome.