Accessing HBase by using the HBase Shell

After you have started HBase, you can access the database in an interactive way by using the HBase Shell, which is a command interpreter for HBase which is written in Ruby. Always run HBase administrative commands such as the HBase Shell, hbck, or bulk-load commands as the HBase user (typically hbase).

$ hbase shell

HBase Shell Overview

  • To get help and to see all available commands, use the help command.
  • To get help on a specific command, use help "command". For example:
    hbase> help "create"
  • To remove an attribute from a table or column family or reset it to its default value, set its value to nil. For example, use the following command to remove the KEEP_DELETED_CELLS attribute from the f1 column of the users table:
    hbase> alter 'users', { NAME => 'f1', KEEP_DELETED_CELLS => nil }
  • To exit the HBase Shell, type quit.

Setting Virtual Machine Options for HBase Shell

HBase in CDH 5.2 and higher allows you to set variables for the virtual machine running HBase Shell, by using the HBASE_SHELL_OPTS environment variable. This example sets several options in the virtual machine.

$ HBASE_SHELL_OPTS="-verbose:gc -XX:+PrintGCApplicationStoppedTime -XX:+PrintGCDateStamps
      -XX:+PrintGCDetails -Xloggc:$HBASE_HOME/logs/gc-hbase.log" ./bin/hbase shell

Scripting with HBase Shell

CDH 5.2 and higher include non-interactive mode. This mode allows you to use HBase Shell in scripts, and allow the script to access the exit status of the HBase Shell commands. To invoke non-interactive mode, use the -n or --non-interactive switch. This small example script shows how to use HBase Shell in a Bash script.

echo 'list' | hbase shell -n
if [$status -ne 0]; then
  echo "The command may have failed."

Successful HBase Shell commands return an exit status of 0. However, an exit status other than 0 does not necessarily indicate a failure, but should be interpreted as unknown. For example, a command may succeed, but while waiting for the response, the client may lose connectivity. In that case, the client has no way to know the outcome of the command. In the case of a non-zero exit status, your script should check to be sure the command actually failed before taking further action.

CDH 5.7 and higher include the get_splits command, which returns the split points for a given table:
hbase> get_splits 't2'
Total number of splits = 5

=> ["", "10", "20", "30", "40"]

You can also write Ruby scripts for use with HBase Shell. Example Ruby scripts are included in the hbase-examples/src/main/ruby/ directory.