Light up a Riak Cluster with AWS, A Few Notes…

I wanted to write up an intro to getting Riak installed on AWS, even though the steps are absurdly simple and already available on the Basho Docs site, there’s a few extra notes that can be very helpful for a few specific points during the process.

Start off by logging into AWS. At this point you can take two different paths that are almost identical. You can follow the path of using the pre-built AWS Marketplace image of Riak, or just start form scratch. The difference is a total of about 2 steps; installing & setting some security port connections. I’m going to step through without using the prebuilt image in these instructions.

Security Group

First thing you’ll need to get a security group with the correct permissions setup. For that, you’ll need to make a security group.

NOTE: No, I didn’t mean to misspell Riak, but it’s in there now.  😉

Before adding the ports, go to the security group details tab and copy the security group id. I’ve pointed it out in the image above.

Now add the following three and assign the security group to the ports; 4369, 8099 & 6000-7999. For the source set it to the security group id. Once you get all three added the list should look like this (below). For each rule click the Add Rule button and remember to click the Apply Rule Changes. I often forget this because the screen on some of the machines I use only shows to the bottom of the Add Rule button, so you’ll have to scroll down to find the Apple Rule Changes button.

Now add the standard port 22 for SSH. Next get the final two of 8087 and 8098 setup and we’re ready for moving on to creating the virtual machines.

Server Virtual Machines

For creating virtual machines I just clicked on Launch Instance and used the classic wizard. From there you get a selection of items. I’ve used the AWS image to do this, but would actually suggest using a CentOS image of your choice or Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Another great option is to use the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. Really though, use whatever Linux version or distro you like, there are 1-2 step instructions for installing Riak on almost every distro out.

Next just launch a single instance. We’ll be able to launch duplicates of these further along in the process. I’ve selected a “Micro” here but I’m not intending to do anything with a remotely heavy load right now. At some point, I’ll upgrade this cluster to larger instances when I start putting it under a real load. I’ll have another blog entry to describe exactly how I do this too.

Keep hitting continue until you get to the key pair selection. Pick the key pair you want, either making a new one for this cluster or use one you already have. Either way works fine.

Continue again until you can select the security group that we created above.

Now keep hitting that continue button, until you get to launch, and launch this thing. Once the instance is launched launch your preferred SSH connection tooling. The easiest way I’ve found for getting the most current private IP to connect to with the appropriate command is to right click on the instance in the AWS Console and click on Connect. There you’ll find the command to connect via SSH.

Paste that in and hit enter in your SSH App, you’ll see something akin to this.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
$ cd Codez/working-content/
$ ssh -i riaktionz.pem
The authenticity of host ‘ (’ can’t be established.
RSA key fingerprint is 31:18:ac:1a:ac:fc:6e:6d:55:e8:8a:83:9a:8f:c7:5f.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Warning: Permanently added ‘,′ (RSA) to the list of known hosts.
Please login as the user "ubuntu" rather than the user "root".

Enter yes to continue connecting. For some instance types, like Ubuntu you’ll have to do some teaks to log into as “ubuntu” vs. “root” and the same goes for the AWS image or others. I’ll leave that to you, dear reader to get connected via ole’ SSH.

One of the other things, that you may have to do some tweaking about and googling, is figuring out the firewall setups on the various virtual machine images. For the RHEL you’ll want to turn off the firewall or open up the specific connection ports and such. Since the AWS firewall does this, it isn’t particularly important for the OS to continue running its firewall service. In this case, I’ve turned off the OS firewall and just rely on the AWS firewall. To turn off the RHEL firewall, execute the following commands.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
[root@ip-x-x-x-x]# service iptables save
iptables: Saving firewall rules to /etc/sysconfig/iptables:[ OK ]
[root@ip-x-x-x-x]# service iptables stop
iptables: Flushing firewall rules: [ OK ]
iptables: Setting chains to policy ACCEPT: filter [ OK ]
iptables: Unloading modules: [ OK ]
[root@ip-x-x-x-x]# chkconfig iptables off

Now is a perfect time to start those other instances. Navigate into the AWS Console again and right click on the virtual machine instance you’ve created. On that menu select Launch More Like This.

Go through and check the configuration on each of these, make sure the firewall is turned off, etc. Then move on to the next step and install Riak and cluster them. So it’s time to get to the distributed, massively complex, extensive list of steps to install & cluster Riak. Ok, so that’s sarcasm.  😉

Step 1: Install Riak

Install Riak on each of the instances.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
package=basho-release-6-1.noarch.rpm && \
wget$package -O /tmp/$package && \
sudo rpm -ivh /tmp/$package
sudo yum install riak

NOTE: For other installation methods, such as directly downloading the RPM or other Linux OSes, check out the

Step 2: Setup the Cluster

On the first instance, get the IP. You won’t need to do anything to this instance, just keep the IP handy. Then move on to the second instance and run the cluster command.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
sudo riak-admin cluster join riak@<ip_of_the_first_node>

Do this on each of the instances you’ve added, using that first node. When you’ve added them all, on that last instance (or really any of them) then run the plan. This will get you a display plan of what will take place when the cluster is committed.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
sudo riak-admin cluster plan

If that looks all cool. Commit the plan.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
sudo riak-admin cluster commit

Get a check of the cluster.

[sourcecode language=”bash”]
sudo riak-admin member_status

That’s it all done. You know have a Riak Cluster. For more operations to try out your cluster, check out this list of base API Operations.

A Few Notes on Riak 1.3 RC

Full context – Riak 1.3 RC came out just a couple dozen hours ago. RC stands for release candidate, which in turn basically means that version 1.3 is complete and any other additions will be for quick fixes or any issues that crop up. I’ve just started rolling a few new systems myself with this new version and hope you’ll join me in taking a hack at it. Let’s jump into a few reason why you’d want to leap into 1.3. You can read about the features below via the release notes also, but I’ve turned them into smaller bit size chunks below.

  • Giddyup in action!
    Giddyup in action!

    The first thing with the latest v1.3 has been the massive effort put into testing via the riak_test and the giddyup repos. Ongoing there will be a much easier way to move forward in features & quality. This is one of the reasons I love working for Basho, the whole team isn’t about smoke and mirrors with testing, they readily and diligently work on testing. Which to add context, remember we’re talking about distributed systems here, which aren’t exactly the easiest thing to test. One doesn’t just merely walk in and write unit tests and assume a distributed systems is tested. This moves us forward, and those that want to contribute and get involved more heavily in Riak now have a platform to dive in confidently when using these testing repositories.

  • Active Anti-Entropy – Alright, now we’re getting to the features with bad ass sounding names. Also referred to as AAE, this feature grabs bad replica data and begins a correction through read repair to protect data. It’s one more layer of protection against any type of data loss, disaster, bit rot, etc).
  • MapReduce Sink Backpressure – This one reminds me of tuning when setting up forced induction, AKA a turbo on a car. But I digress, I’ve snagged a description from the release notes for this feature, “Riak Pipe brought inter-stage backpressure to Riak KV’s MapReduce system. However, prior to Riak 1.3, that backpressure did not extend to the sink. It was assumed that the Protocol Buffers or HTTP endpoint could handle the full output rate of the pipe. With Riak 1.3, backpressure has been extended to the sink so that those endpoint processes no longer become overwhelmed. This backpressure is tunable via a soft cap on the size of the sink’s buffer, and a period at which a worker should check that cap. These can be configured at the Riak console by setting application environment variables” ….suffice it to say this helps out with map reduce in certain situations.
  • Additional IPv6 Support – Riak Handoff and Protocol Buggers listen ala IPv6 now. Nuff’ said.
  • Luke removal – Luke is completely and utterly gone now. Dead. Don’t look for Luke here.
  • Riaknostic – This is now part of the default featureset instead of separate tooling.
  • SmartOS 1.8 Packages – They’re available.
  • Health Check – This is a pretty awesome system that’s been added. Basically it watches the system and enables and disables services based on conditions. It’s super easy, just flick the switch in the app.config.
    [sourcecode language=”yml”]
    {enable_health_checks, true}
  • Reset Bucket Properties – A quickie definition from the release notes “The HTTP interface now supports resetting bucket properties to their default values. Bucket properties are stored in Riak’s ring structure that is gossiped around the cluster. Resetting bucket properties for buckets that are no longer used or that are using the default properties can reduce the amount of gossiped data.”

There were also a lot of PRs and more that you can check out on Github. These are the main key features that are now available and ready for use in 1.3. Check em’ out, feel free to contact me or any of the team to ask questions, let us know your 2 cents or otherwise banter about. Cheers! Sometime in the coming days I’ll have a quick start, akin to what’s in the docs, but with some specific ops on some IaaS Providers. So keep reading, coming up soon.

Happy hacking!  \m/   \m/