This page explains the cockroach start command, which you use to start nodes as a new cluster or add nodes to an existing cluster. For a full walk-through of the cluster startup and initialization process, see one of the Manual Deployment tutorials.

Note:
Node-level settings are defined by flags passed to the cockroach start command and cannot be changed without stopping and restarting the node. In contrast, some cluster-wide settings are defined via SQL statements and can be updated anytime after a cluster has been started. For more details, see Cluster Settings.

Synopsis

# Start a single-node cluster:
$ cockroach start <flags, excluding --join>

# Start a multi-node cluster:
$ cockroach start <flags, including --join> &
$ cockroach init <flags>

# Add a node to a cluster:
$ cockroach start <flags, including --join>

# View help:
$ cockroach start --help

Flags Changed in v2.0

The start command supports the following general-use and logging flags. All flags must be specified each time the node is started, as they will not be remembered, with the exception of the --join flag. Nevertheless, we recommend specifying all flags every time, including the --join flag, as that will allow restarted nodes to join the cluster even if their data directory was destroyed.

Tip:
When adding a node to an existing cluster, include the --join flag.

General

Flag Description
--advertise-host The IP address or hostname to tell other nodes to use. If it is a hostname, it must be resolvable from all nodes; if it is an IP address, it must be routable from all nodes.

This flag's effect depends on how it is used in combination with --host. For more details, see Networking.
--attrs Arbitray strings, separated by colons, specifying node capability, which might include specialized hardware or number of cores, for example:

--attrs=ram:64gb

These can be used to influence the location of data replicas. See Configure Replication Zones for full details.
--background Set this to start the node in the background. This is better than appending & to the command because control is returned to the shell only once the node is ready to accept requests.

Note: --background is suitable for writing automated test suites or maintenance procedures that need a temporary server process running in the background. It is not intended to be used to start a long-running server, because it does not fully detach from the controlling terminal. Consider using a service manager or a tool like daemon(8) instead.
--cache The total size for caches, shared evenly if there are multiple storage devices. This can be a percentage (notated as a decimal or with %) or any bytes-based unit, for example:

--cache=.25
--cache=25%
--cache=1000000000 ----> 1000000000 bytes
--cache=1GB ----> 1000000000 bytes
--cache=1GiB ----> 1073741824 bytes

Note: If you use the % notation, you might need to escape the % sign, for instance, while configuring CockroachDB through systemd service files. For this reason, it's recommended to use the decimal notation instead.

Changed in v1.1: Default: 128MiB

The default cache size is reasonable for local development clusters. For production deployments, this should be increased to 25% or higher. See Recommended Production Settings for more details.
--certs-dir The path to the certificate directory. The directory must contain valid certificates if running in secure mode.

Default: ${HOME}/.cockroach-certs/
--external-io-dir New in v2.0: The path of the external IO directory with which the local file access paths are prefixed while performing backup and restore operations using local node directories or NFS drives. If set to disabled, backups and restores using local node directories and NFS drives are disabled.

Default: extern subdirectory of the first configured store.

To set the --external-io-dir flag to the locations you want to use without needing to restart nodes, create symlinks to the desired locations from within the extern directory.
--host The IP address or hostname to listen on for connections from other nodes and clients. The node will also advertise itself to other nodes using this value if --advertise-host is not specified.

This flag's effect depends on how it is used in combination with --advertise-host. For more details, see Networking.

Default: Listen on all IP addresses and advertise the node's canonical hostname to other nodes
--http-host The hostname or IP address to listen on for Admin UI HTTP requests.

Default: same as --host
--http-port The port to bind to for Admin UI HTTP requests.

Default: 8080
--insecure Run in insecure mode. If this flag is not set, the --certs-dir flag must point to valid certificates.

Note the following risks: An insecure cluster is open to any client that can access any node's IP addresses; any user, even root, can log in without providing a password; any user, connecting as root, can read or write any data in your cluster; and there is no network encryption or authentication, and thus no confidentiality.

Default: false
--join
-j
The addresses for connecting the node to a cluster.

Changed in v1.1: When starting a multi-node cluster for the first time, set this flag to the addresses of 3-5 of the initial nodes. Then run the cockroach init command against any of the nodes to complete cluster startup. See the example below for more details.

When starting a singe-node cluster, leave this flag out. This will cause the node to initialize a new single-node cluster without needing to run the cockroach init command. See the example below for more details.

When adding a node to an existing cluster, set this flag to 3-5 of the nodes already in the cluster; it's easiest to use the same list of addresses that was used to start the initial nodes.
--listening-url-file The file to which the node's SQL connection URL will be written on successful startup, in addition to being printed to the standard output.

This is particularly helpful in identifying the node's port when an unused port is assigned automatically (--port=0).
--locality Arbitrary key-value pairs that describe the location of the node. Locality might include country, region, datacenter, rack, etc. For more details, see Locality below.
--max-disk-temp-storage New in v1.1: The maximum on-disk storage capacity available to store temporary data for SQL queries that exceed the memory budget (see --max-sql-memory). This ensures that JOINs, sorts, and other memory-intensive SQL operations are able to spill intermediate results to disk. This can be a percentage (notated as a decimal or with %) or any bytes-based unit (e.g., .25, 25%, 500GB, 1TB, 1TiB).

Note: If you use the % notation, you might need to escape the % sign, for instance, while configuring CockroachDB through systemd service files. For this reason, it's recommended to use the decimal notation instead. Also, if expressed as a percentage, this value is interpreted relative to the size of the first store. However, the temporary space usage is never counted towards any store usage; therefore, when setting this value, it's important to ensure that the size of this temporary storage plus the size of the first store doesn't exceed the capacity of the storage device.

New in v2.0: The temporary files are located in the path specified by the --temp-dir flag, or in the subdirectory of the first store (see --store) by default.

Default: 32GiB
--max-offset The maximum allowed clock offset for the cluster. If observed clock offsets exceed this limit, servers will crash to minimize the likelihood of reading inconsistent data. Increasing this value will increase the time to recovery of failures as well as the frequency of uncertainty-based read restarts.

Note that this value must be the same on all nodes in the cluster and cannot be changed with a rolling upgrade. In order to change it, first stop every node in the cluster. Then once the entire cluster is offline, restart each node with the new value.

Default: 500ms
--max-sql-memory The maximum in-memory storage capacity available to store temporary data for SQL queries, including prepared queries and intermediate data rows during query execution. This can be a percentage (notated as a decimal or with %) or any bytes-based unit, for example:

--max-sql-memory=.25
--max-sql-memory=25%
--max-sql-memory=10000000000 ----> 1000000000 bytes
--max-sql-memory=1GB ----> 1000000000 bytes
--max-sql-memory=1GiB ----> 1073741824 bytes

New in v2.0: The temporary files are located in the path specified by the --temp-dir flag, or in the subdirectory of the first store (see --store) by default.

Note: If you use the % notation, you might need to escape the % sign, for instance, while configuring CockroachDB through systemd service files. For this reason, it's recommended to use the decimal notation instead.

Changed in v1.1: Default: 128MiB

The default SQL memory size is reasonable for local development clusters. For production deployments, this should be increased to 25% or higher. See Recommended Production Settings for more details.
--pid-file The file to which the node's process ID will be written on successful startup. When this flag is not set, the process ID is not written to file.
--port
-p
The port to bind to for internal and client communication.

To have an unused port assigned automatically, pass --port=0.

Env Variable: COCKROACH_PORT
Default: 26257
--store
-s
The file path to a storage device and, optionally, store attributes and maximum size. When using multiple storage devices for a node, this flag must be specified separately for each device, for example:

--store=/mnt/ssd01 --store=/mnt/ssd02

For more details, see Store below.
--temp-dir New in v2.0: The path of the node's temporary store directory. On node start up, the location for the temporary files is printed to the standard output.

Default: Subdirectory of the first store

Locality

The --locality flag accepts arbitrary key-value pairs that describe the location of the node. Locality might include country, region, datacenter, rack, etc. The key-value pairs should be ordered from most to least inclusive, and the keys and order of key-value pairs must be the same on all nodes. It's typically better to include more pairs than fewer.

  • CockroachDB spreads the replicas of each piece of data across as diverse a set of localities as possible, with the order determining the priority. However, locality can also be used to influence the location of data replicas in various ways using replication zones.

  • When there is high latency between nodes (e.g., cross-datacenter deployments), CockroachDB uses locality to move range leases closer to the current workload, reducing network round trips and improving read performance, also known as "follow-the-workload". In a deployment across more than 3 datacenters, however, to ensure that all data benefits from "follow-the-workload", you must increase your replication factor to match the total number of datacenters.

  • Locality is also a prerequisite for using the table partitioning and Node Map enterprise features.

Example

# Locality flag for nodes in US East datacenter:
--locality=region=us,datacenter=us-east

# Locality flag for nodes in US Central datacenter:
--locality=region=us,datacenter=us-central

# Locality flag for nodes in US West datacenter:
--locality=region=us,datacenter=us-west

Store

The --store flag supports the following fields. Note that commas are used to separate fields, and so are forbidden in all field values.

Note:
In-memory storage is not suitable for production deployments at this time.
Field Description
type For in-memory storage, set this field to mem; otherwise, leave this field out. The path field must not be set when type=mem.
path The file path to the storage device. When not setting attr or size, the path field label can be left out:

--store=/mnt/ssd01

When either of those fields are set, however, the path field label must be used:

--store=path=/mnt/ssd01,size=20GB

Default: cockroach-data
attrs Arbitrary strings, separated by colons, specifying disk type or capability. These can be used to influence the location of data replicas. See Configure Replication Zones for full details.

In most cases, node-level --locality or --attrs are preferable to store-level attributes, but this field can be used to match capabilities for storage of individual databases or tables. For example, an OLTP database would probably want to allocate space for its tables only on solid state devices, whereas append-only time series might prefer cheaper spinning drives. Typical attributes include whether the store is flash (ssd) or spinny disk (hdd), as well as speeds and other specs, for example:

--store=path=/mnt/hda1,attrs=hdd:7200rpm
size The maximum size allocated to the node. When this size is reached, CockroachDB attempts to rebalance data to other nodes with available capacity. When there's no capacity elsewhere, this limit will be exceeded. Also, data may be written to the node faster than the cluster can rebalance it away; in this case, as long as capacity is available elsewhere, CockroachDB will gradually rebalance data down to the store limit.

The size can be specified either in a bytes-based unit or as a percentage of hard drive space (notated as a decimal or with %), for example:

--store=path=/mnt/ssd01,size=10000000000 ----> 10000000000 bytes
--store=path=/mnt/ssd01,size=20GB ----> 20000000000 bytes
--store=path=/mnt/ssd01,size=20GiB ----> 21474836480 bytes
--store=path=/mnt/ssd01,size=0.02TiB ----> 21474836480 bytes
--store=path=/mnt/ssd01,size=20% ----> 20% of available space
--store=path=/mnt/ssd01,size=0.2 ----> 20% of available space
--store=path=/mnt/ssd01,size=.2 ----> 20% of available space

Default: 100%

For an in-memory store, the size field is required and must be set to the true maximum bytes or percentage of available memory, for example:

--store=type=mem,size=20GB
--store=type=mem,size=90%

Note: If you use the % notation, you might need to escape the % sign, for instance, while configuring CockroachDB through systemd service files. For this reason, it's recommended to use the decimal notation instead.

Logging

By default, cockroach start writes all messages to log files, and prints nothing to stderr. However, you can control the process's logging behavior with the following flags:

Flag Description
--log-dir Enable logging to files and write logs to the specified directory.

Setting --log-dir to a blank directory (--log-dir="") disables logging to files.
--log-dir-max-size After the log directory reaches the specified size, delete the oldest log file. The flag's argument takes standard file sizes, such as --log-dir-max-size=1GiB.

Default: 100MiB
--log-file-max-size After logs reach the specified size, begin writing logs to a new file. The flag's argument takes standard file sizes, such as --log-file-max-size=2MiB.

Default: 10MiB
--log-file-verbosity Only writes messages to log files if they are at or above the specified severity level, such as --log-file-verbosity=WARNING. Requires logging to files.

Default: INFO
--logtostderr Enable logging to stderr for messages at or above the specified severity level, such as --logtostderr=ERROR

If you use this flag without specifying the severity level (e.g., cockroach start --logtostderr), it prints messages of all severities to stderr.

Setting --logtostderr=NONE disables logging to stderr.
--no-color Do not colorize stderr. Possible values: true or false.

When set to false, messages logged to stderr are colorized based on severity level.

Default: false
--sql-audit-dir New in v2.0: If non-empty, create a SQL audit log in this directory. By default, SQL audit logs are written in the same directory as the other logs generated by CockroachDB. For more information, see SQL Audit Logging.

Defaults

cockroach start uses the equivalent values for these logging flags by default:

  • --log-dir=<first store dir>/logs
  • --logtostderr=NONE

This means, by default, CockroachDB writes all messages to log files, and never prints to stderr.

Standard Output

When you run cockroach start, some helpful details are printed to the standard output:

CockroachDB node starting at 2018-08-13 15:10:52.34274101 +0000 UTC
build:               CCL v2.0.5 @ 2018/08/13 14:48:26 (go1.10)
admin:               http://ROACHs-MBP:8080
sql:                 postgresql://root@ROACHs-MBP:26257?sslmode=disable
logs:                node1/logs
temp dir:            /node1/cockroach-temp430873933
external I/O path:   /node1/extern
attrs:               ram:64gb
locality:            datacenter=us-east1
store[0]:            path=node1,attrs=ssd
status:              initialized new cluster
clusterID:           7b9329d0-580d-4035-8319-53ba8b74b213
nodeID:              1
Tip:
These details are also written to the INFO log in the /logs directory in case you need to refer to them at a later time.
Field Description
build The version of CockroachDB you are running.
admin The URL for accessing the Admin UI.
sql The connection URL for your client.
logs The directory containing debug log data.
temp dir The temporary store directory of the node.
external I/O path The external IO directory with which the local file access paths are prefixed while performing backup and restore operations using local node directories or NFS drives.
attrs If node-level attributes were specified in the --attrs flag, they are listed in this field. These details are potentially useful for configuring replication zones.
locality If values describing the locality of the node were specified in the --locality field, they are listed in this field. These details are potentially useful for configuring replication zones.
store[n] The directory containing store data, where [n] is the index of the store, e.g., store[0] for the first store, store[1] for the second store.

If store-level attributes were specified in the attrs field of the --store flag, they are listed in this field as well. These details are potentially useful for configuring replication zones.
status Whether the node is the first in the cluster (initialized new cluster), joined an existing cluster for the first time (initialized new node, joined pre-existing cluster), or rejoined an existing cluster (restarted pre-existing node).
clusterID The ID of the cluster.

When trying to join a node to an existing cluster, if this ID is different than the ID of the existing cluster, the node has started a new cluster. This may be due to conflicting information in the node's data directory. For additional guidance, see the troubleshooting docs.
nodeID The ID of the node.

Examples

Start a single-node cluster

To start a single-node cluster, run the cockroach start command without the --join flag:

$ cockroach start \
--certs-dir=certs \
--host=<node1 address> \
--cache=.25 \
--max-sql-memory=.25
$ cockroach start \
--insecure \
--host=<node1 address> \
--cache=.25 \
--max-sql-memory=.25

Start a multi-node cluster

To start a multi-node cluster, run the cockroach start command for each node, setting the --join flag to the addressess of 3-5 of the initial nodes:

$ cockroach start \
--certs-dir=certs \
--host=<node1 address> \
--join=<node1 address>:26257,<node2 address>:26257,<node3 address>:26257 \
--cache=.25 \
--max-sql-memory=.25
$ cockroach start \
--certs-dir=certs \
--host=<node2 address> \
--join=<node1 address>:26257,<node2 address>:26257,<node3 address>:26257 \
--cache=.25 \
--max-sql-memory=.25
$ cockroach start \
--certs-dir=certs \
--host=<node3 address> \
--join=<node1 address>:26257,<node2 address>:26257,<node3 address>:26257 \
--cache=.25 \
--max-sql-memory=.25
$ cockroach start \
--insecure \
--host=<node1 address> \
--join=<node1 address>:26257,<node2 address>:26257,<node3 address>:26257 \
--cache=.25 \
--max-sql-memory=.25
$ cockroach start \
--insecure \
--host=<node2 address> \
--join=<node1 address>:26257,<node2 address>:26257,<node3 address>:26257 \
--cache=.25 \
--max-sql-memory=.25
$ cockroach start \
--insecure \
--host=<node3 address> \
--join=<node1 address>:26257,<node2 address>:26257,<node3 address>:26257 \
--cache=.25 \
--max-sql-memory=.25

Then run the cockroach init command against any node to perform a one-time cluster initialization:

$ cockroach init \
--certs-dir=certs \
--host=<address of any node>
$ cockroach init \
--insecure \
--host=<address of any node>

Add a node to a cluster

To add a node to an existing cluster, run the cockroach start command, setting the --join flag to the addressess of 3-5 of the nodes already in the cluster:

$ cockroach start \
--certs-dir=certs \
--host=<node4 address> \
--join=<node1 address>:26257,<node2 address>:26257,<node3 address>:26257 \
--cache=.25 \
--max-sql-memory=.25
$ cockroach start \
--insecure \
--host=<node4 address> \
--join=<node1 address>:26257,<node2 address>:26257,<node3 address>:26257 \
--cache=.25 \
--max-sql-memory=.25

See Also



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