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Zookeeper on Raspberry Pi

Ok, yeah, I probably don’t really need a Zookeeper cluster running in the house, but there are a few Raspberry Pi’s around that are mostly idle — we use them for streaming music from our various devices to the speakers in some of the rooms.

But, since I had some spare time, and wanted to do something technical, small and relaxing, I thought I would give it a try. After all, you never know when a Zookeeper cluster would come in handy.

The first adventure was discovering that the Pi’s — all of various ages — did not have the same versions of Java and some other bits and pieces installed. So first thing was to bring them up to date… SSH onto them and:

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt upgrade
$ sudo apt autoremove

Turns out that Meatloaf was correct, and 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. One of the Pi turned out to have a dodgy micro-SD card so there was a lengthy detour while I replaced that and rebuilt the Pi. Back on track though, it was all fairly straightforward to get up and running to be reasonably reliable.

Big caveat, this is not something you want to run your critical production infrastructure on. For one thing, rather than 3 nodes, you really want 5 or 7 for redundancy, and it’s unlikely that this more-or-less default configuration would support requests at internet scale.

First step was to verify that I really did have Java installed:

$ java --version
openjdk 11.0.16 2022-07-19
OpenJDK Runtime Environment (build 11.0.16+8-post-Raspbian-1deb10u1)
OpenJDK Server VM (build 11.0.16+8-post-Raspbian-1deb10u1, mixed mode)

If you don’t have Java running, it’s pretty straightforward now. At the time of writing in late 2022, this installs OpenJDK 11 but in the future that may change

$ sudo apt install default-jdk

Second step was to grab the software and install it:

$ cd /tmp
$ wget
$ tar xvf apache-zookeeper-3.8.0-bin.tar.gz
$ sudo mv apache-zookeeper-3.8.0-bin /usr/local/zookeeper

Hmm. Not quite right, that’s going to leave the software in /usr/local owned by the default pi user. Not great. Let’s create a user that will run and own this (and incidentally create a directory for data):

$ sudo addgroup --system zookeeper
$ sudo adduser --system --ingroup zookeeper \
    --no-create-home --disabled-password zookeeper
$ mkdir /var/zookeeper
$ chgrp -R zookeeper /usr/local/zookeeper /var/zookeeper
$ chown -R zookeeper /usr/local/zookeeper /var/zookeeper

Ok! All the basic bits ready to roll. There’s three things I want to do now:

  • configure the Zookeeper software
  • configure logging
  • make sure the service will restart when the Pi is rebooted

The configuration is easy to find — we want to create a zoo.cfg file in /usr/local/zookeeper/conf. The documentation covers a lot of different use cases and options for configuration, but we really only need to worry about two things, and use the conventional defaults for everything else:


The first key thing is to specify where the data is going to be kept, which you can see is the /var/zookeeper location I created above. The second is a list of the Pi’s that will take part in the cluster, and the two ports they listen on. You will notice the servers are all numbered 1, 2, 3… that’s another small gotcha that is not obvious. In my data directory for (e.g.) node “2”, I need to write “2” into /var/zookeeper/myid

Logging next — Zookeeper makes use of LogBack, which has a configuration file /usr/local/zookeeper/conf/logback.xml. Yep, XML time, which always seems so very 1990’s. There are several changes to make in the default Zookeeper 3.8.0 logback.xml

  • update the zookeeper.log.dir property to be logs
  • update zookeeper.log.maxfilesize to 50MB
  • update zookeeper.log.maxbackupindex to 3
  • uncomment the ROLLINGFILE appender section
  • change the root logger from CONSOLE to ROLLINGFILE

The overall effect (sorry, wall of XML coming) is this (I’ve omitted all the comments in the default file):

  <property name="zookeeper.console.threshold" value="INFO" />
  <property name="zookeeper.log.dir" value="logs" />
  <property name="zookeeper.log.file" value="zookeeper.log" />
  <property name="zookeeper.log.threshold" value="INFO" />
  <property name="zookeeper.log.maxfilesize" value="50MB" />
  <property name="zookeeper.log.maxbackupindex" value="3" />

  <appender name="CONSOLE" class="ch.qos.logback.core.ConsoleAppender">
      <pattern>%d{ISO8601} [myid:%X{myid}] - %-5p [%t:%C{1}@%L] - %m%n</pattern>
    <filter class="ch.qos.logback.classic.filter.ThresholdFilter">

  <appender name="ROLLINGFILE" class="ch.qos.logback.core.rolling.RollingFileAppender">
      <pattern>%d{ISO8601} [myid:%X{myid}] - %-5p [%t:%C{1}@%L] - %m%n</pattern>
    <filter class="ch.qos.logback.classic.filter.ThresholdFilter">
    <rollingPolicy class="ch.qos.logback.core.rolling.FixedWindowRollingPolicy">
    <triggeringPolicy class="ch.qos.logback.core.rolling.SizeBasedTriggeringPolicy">

  <root level="INFO">
    <appender-ref ref="ROLLINGFILE" />

The result of this will be that log files will show up in /var/zookeeper/logs , and the number of logs will be capped at 3, each no more than 50Mb in size.

Final step, wrapping Zookeeper up as a systemd service so that Zookeeper will restart when the Pi is rebooted. Again, not too horrible:

$ sudo vi /lib/systemd/system/zookeeper.service
 Description=ZooKeeper Service

 ExecStart=/usr/local/zookeeper/bin/ start /usr/local/zookeeper/conf/zoo.cfg
 ExecStop=/usr/local/zookeeper/bin/ stop /usr/local/zookeeper/conf/zoo.cfg
 ExecReload=/usr/local/zookeeper/bin/ restart /usr/local/zookeeper/conf/zoo.cfg


So let’s start it (note of course that the cluster won’t be happy until all three nodes are up and running):

$ sudo systemctl start zookeeper.service

and… silence. That’s one of the hassles of systemd, you don’t always get feedback. Let’s see what the status is:

$ sudo systemctl status zookeeper.service
? zookeeper.service - ZooKeeper Service
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/zookeeper.service; disabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: active (running) since Sun 2022-11-20 13:38:34 GMT; 1min 25s ago
  Process: 3397 ExecStart=/usr/local/zookeeper/bin/ start /usr/local/zookeeper/conf/zoo.cfg (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
 Main PID: 3412 (java)
    Tasks: 49 (limit: 3720)
   CGroup: /system.slice/zookeeper.service
           ??3412 java -Dzookeeper.log.dir=/usr/local/zookeeper/bin/../logs -Dzookeeper.log.file=zookeeper-zookeeper-server-loungepi.log -XX:+HeapDumpOnOutOfMemoryError -XX:OnOutOfMemoryError=ki

Nov 20 13:38:33 loungepi systemd[1]: Starting ZooKeeper Service...
Nov 20 13:38:33 loungepi[3397]: /usr/bin/java
Nov 20 13:38:33 loungepi[3397]: ZooKeeper JMX enabled by default
Nov 20 13:38:33 loungepi[3397]: Using config: /usr/local/zookeeper/conf/zoo.cfg
Nov 20 13:38:34 loungepi[3397]: Starting zookeeper ... STARTED
Nov 20 13:38:34 loungepi systemd[1]: Started ZooKeeper Service.

That’s looking healthy! We can dig a bit further. What does Zookeeper believe?

$ /usr/local/zookeeper/bin/ status
ZooKeeper JMX enabled by default
Using config: /usr/local/zookeeper/bin/../conf/zoo.cfg
Client port found: 2181. Client address: localhost. Client SSL: false.
Mode: leader

Even better! looks like we are up and running, and the logs are not showing any issues:

$ tail /var/zookeeper/logs/zookeeper.log 
2022-11-20 13:40:50,269 [myid:] - INFO  [NIOWorkerThread-1:o.a.z.s.c.FourLetterCommands@223] - The list of known four letter word commands is : [{1936881266=srvr, 1937006964=stat, 2003003491=wchc, 1685417328=dump, 1668445044=crst, 1936880500=srst, 1701738089=envi, 1668247142=conf, -720899=telnet close, 1751217000=hash, 2003003507=wchs, 2003003504=wchp, 1684632179=dirs, 1668247155=cons, 1835955314=mntr, 1769173615=isro, 1920298859=ruok, 1735683435=gtmk, 1937010027=stmk}]
2022-11-20 13:40:50,270 [myid:] - INFO  [NIOWorkerThread-1:o.a.z.s.c.FourLetterCommands@224] - The list of enabled four letter word commands is : [[srvr]]
2022-11-20 13:40:50,272 [myid:] - INFO  [NIOWorkerThread-1:o.a.z.s.NIOServerCnxn@514] - Processing srvr command from /

And as a final test, there’s a simple command line interface we can play with:

$ /usr/local/zookeeper/bin/ -server localhost:2181
Connecting to localhost:2181
Welcome to ZooKeeper!
JLine support is enabled


WatchedEvent state:SyncConnected type:None path:null
[zk: localhost:2181(CONNECTED) 0]

and I can execute commands against the cluster, like fetch the config:

[zk: localhost:2181(CONNECTED) 1] config
[zk: localhost:2181(CONNECTED) 2] quit


WatchedEvent state:Closed type:None path:null

That’s pretty well it really. I’ve now got a three-node Zookeeper cluster quietly chugging away in the house, waiting for whatever I want to do with it.

While it’s handy to be able to prototype things on cloud servers, running EC2 or CloudEngine instances just for small services can get pretty expensive. Running a cluster like this with Docker can be quite a good option as well, but getting the networking to resemble what you would see in a production environment can be tricky. If you have got Pi’s lying about, not being used much, they do provide a relatively cheap and easy alternative, and installing and configuring services like this is good practice at doing more critical IT work on real servers.

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