Initializing a multiple node cluster (single datacenter)

A deployment scenario for a Cassandra cluster with a single datacenter.

This topic contains information for deploying a Cassandra cluster with a single datacenter. If you're new to Cassandra, and haven't set up a cluster, see Planning and testing cluster deployments.


Each node must be correctly configured before starting the cluster. You must determine or perform the following before starting the cluster:

This example describes installing a 6 node cluster spanning 2 racks in a single datacenter. Each node is already configured to use the GossipingPropertyFileSnitch and 256 virtual nodes (vnodes).

In Cassandra, "datacenter" is synonymous with "replication group". Both terms refer to a set of nodes configured as a group for replication purposes.


  1. Suppose you install Cassandra on these nodes:
    node0 (seed1)
    node3 (seed2)
    Note: It is a best practice to have more than one seed node per datacenter.
  2. If you have a firewall running in your cluster, you must open certain ports for communication between the nodes. See Configuring firewall port access.
  3. If Cassandra is running, you must stop the server and clear the data:

    Doing this removes the default cluster_name (Test Cluster) from the system table. All nodes must use the same cluster name.

    Package installations:

    1. Stop Cassandra:
      sudo service dse stop #Stops DataStax Enterprise
    2. Clear the data:
      sudo rm -rf /var/lib/cassandra/data/system/*

    Tarball installations:

    1. Stop Cassandra:
      ps auwx | grep dse #Stops DataStax Enterprise
      $ sudo  kill pid
    2. Clear the data:
      sudo rm -rf /var/lib/cassandra/data/data/system/*
  4. Set the properties in the cassandra.yaml file for each node:
    Note: After making any changes in the cassandra.yaml file, you must restart the node for the changes to take effect.
    Properties to set:
    • cluster_name:
    • num_tokens: recommended value: 256
    • -seeds: internal IP address of each seed node

      In new clusters. Seed nodes don't perform bootstrap (the process of a new node joining an existing cluster.)

    • listen_address:

      If the node is a seed node, this address must match an IP address in the seeds list. Otherwise, gossip communication fails because it doesn't know that it is a seed.

      If not set, Cassandra asks the system for the local address, the one associated with its hostname. In some cases Cassandra doesn't produce the correct address and you must specify the listen_address.

    • rpc_address:listen address for client connections
    • endpoint_snitch: name of snitch (See endpoint_snitch.) If you are changing snitches, see Switching snitches.
    • auto_bootstrap: false (Add this setting only when initializing a clean node with no data.)
    Note: If the nodes in the cluster are identical in terms of disk layout, shared libraries, and so on, you can use the same cassandra.yaml file on all of them.


    cluster_name: 'MyCassandraCluster'
    num_tokens: 256
      - class_name: org.apache.cassandra.locator.SimpleSeedProvider
             - seeds: ","
    endpoint_snitch: GossipingPropertyFileSnitch
    If rpc_address is set to a wildcard address (, then broadcast_rpc_address must be set, or the service won't even start.
  5. In the file, assign the datacenter and rack names you determined in the Prerequisites. For example:
    # indicate the rack and dc for this node
  6. The GossipingPropertyFileSnitch always loads when that file is present. Remove the file from each node on any new cluster or any cluster migrated from the PropertyFileSnitch.
  7. After you have installed and configured Cassandra on all nodes, DataStax recommends starting the seed nodes one at a time, and then starting the rest of the nodes.
    Note: If the node has restarted because of automatic restart, you must first stop the node and clear the data directories, as described above.
    Package installations:
    sudo service dse start #Starts DataStax Enterprise
    Tarball installations:
    cd install_location 
    $ bin/dse cassandra #Starts DataStax Enterprise
  8. To check that the ring is up and running, run:
    Package installations:
    nodetool status
    Tarball installations:
    cd install_location 
    $ bin/nodetool status

    The output should list each node, and show its status as UN (Up Normal).

    The location of the cassandra.yaml file depends on the type of installation:
    DataStax Enterprise 5.0 Installer-Services and package installations /etc/dse/cassandra/cassandra.yaml
    DataStax Enterprise 5.0 Installer-No Services and tarball installations install_location/resources/cassandra/conf/cassandra.yaml
    Cassandra package installations /etc/cassandra/cassandra.yaml
    Cassandra tarball installations install_location/resources/cassandra/conf/cassandra.yaml