1. Introduction

Historically, part of the security configuration for HDFS involved starting the DataNode as the root user, and binding to privileged ports for the server endpoints. This was done to address a security issue whereby if a MapReduce task was running and the DataNode stopped running, it would be possible for the MapReduce task to bind to the DataNode port and potentially do something malicious. The solution to this scenario was to run the DataNode as the root user and use privileged ports. Only the root user can access privileged ports.

You can now use Simple Authentication and Security Layer (SASL) to securely run DataNodes as a non-root user. SASL is used to provide secure communication at the protocol level.


Make sure to execute a migration from using root to start DataNodes to using SASL to start DataNodes in a very specific sequence across the entire cluster. Otherwise, there could be a risk of application downtime.

In order to migrate an existing cluster that used root authentication to start using SASL instead, first ensure that HDP 2.2 or later has been deployed to all cluster nodes as well as any external applications that need to connect to the cluster. Only the HDFS client in versions HDP 2.2 and later can connect to a DataNode that uses SASL for authentication of data transfer protocol, so it is vital that all callers have the correct version before migrating. After HDP 2.2 or later has been deployed everywhere, update the configuration of any external applications to enable SASL. If an HDFS client is enabled for SASL, it can connect successfully to a DataNode running with either root authentication or SASL authentication. Changing configuration for all clients guarantees that subsequent configuration changes on DataNodes will not disrupt the applications. Finally, each individual DataNode can be migrated by changing its configuration and restarting. It is acceptable to temporarily have a mix of some DataNodes running with root authentication and some DataNodes running with SASL authentication during this migration period, because an HDFS client enabled for SASL can connect to both.