Advanced usage

Path expansion

All Client methods provide a path expansion functionality via the resolve() method. It enables the use of special markers to identify paths. For example, it currently supports the #LATEST marker which expands to the last modified file inside a given folder.

# Load the most recent data in the `tracking` folder.
with'tracking/#LATEST') as reader:
  data =

See the method’s documentation for more information.

Custom client support

In order for the CLI to be able to instantiate arbitrary client classes, it has to be able to discover these first. This is done by specifying where they are defined in the global section of HdfsCLI’s configuration file. For example, here is how we can make the KerberosClient class available:

autoload.modules = hdfs.ext.kerberos

More precisely, there are two options for telling the CLI where to load the clients from:

  • autoload.modules, a comma-separated list of modules (which must be on python’s path).
  • autoload.paths, a comma-separated list of paths to python files.

Implementing custom clients can be particularly useful for passing default options (e.g. a custom session argument to each client). We describe below a working example implementing a secure client with optional custom certificate support.

We first implement our new client and save it somewhere, for example /etc/

from hdfs import Client
from requests import Session

class SecureClient(Client):

  """A new client subclass for handling HTTPS connections.

  :param url: URL to namenode.
  :param cert: Local certificate. See `requests` documentation for details
    on how to use this.
  :param verify: Whether to check the host's certificate.
  :param \*\*kwargs: Keyword arguments passed to the default `Client`


  def __init__(self, url, cert=None, verify=True, **kwargs):
    session = Session()
    if ',' in cert:
      session.cert = [path.strip() for path in cert.split(',')]
      session.cert = cert
    if isinstance(verify, basestring): # Python 2.
      verify = verify.lower() in ('true', 'yes', 'ok')
    session.verify = verify
    super(SecureClient, self).__init__(url, session=session, **kwargs)

We then edit our configuration to tell the CLI how to load this module and define a prod alias using our new client:

autoload.paths = /etc/

client = SecureClient
url = https://host:port
cert = /etc/server.crt, /etc/key

Note that options used to instantiate clients from the CLI (using hdfs.client.Client.from_options() under the hood) are always passed in as strings. This is why we had to implement some parsing logic in the SecureClient constructor above.

Tracking transfer progress

The read(), upload(), download() client methods accept a progress callback argument which can be used to track transfers. The passed function will be called every chunk_size bytes with two arguments:

  • The source path of the file currently being transferred.
  • The number of bytes currently transferred for this file or -1 to signal that this file’s transfer has just finished.

Below is an implementation of a toy tracker which simply outputs to standard error the total number of transferred bytes each time a file transfer completes (we must still take care to ensure correct behavior even during multi-threaded transfers).

from sys import stderr
from threading import Lock

class Progress(object):

  """Basic progress tracker callback."""

  def __init__(self):
    self._data = {}
    self._lock = Lock()

  def __call__(self, hdfs_path, nbytes):
    with self._lock:
      if nbytes >= 0:
          self._data[hdfs_path] = nbytes
        stderr.write('%s\n' % (sum(self._data.values()), ))

Finally, note that the write() method doesn’t expose a progress argument since this functionality can be replicated by passing a custom data generator (or within the context manager).

Logging configuration

It is possible to configure and disable where the CLI logs are written for each entry point. To do this, we can set the following options in its corresponding section (the entry point’s name suffixed with .command). For example:

log.level = INFO
log.path = /tmp/hdfscli/avro.log

The following options are available:

  • log.level, handler log level (defaults to DEBUG).
  • log.path, path to log file. The log is rotated every day (keeping a single copy). The default is a file named COMMAND.log in your current temporary directory. It is possible to view the currently active log file at any time by using the --log option at the command line.
  • log.disable, disable logging to a file entirely (defaults to False).

Renaming entry points

By default the command line entry point will be named hdfscli. You can choose another name by specifying the HDFSCLI_ENTRY_POINT environment variable at installation time:

$ HDFSCLI_ENTRY_POINT=hdfs pip install hdfs

Extension prefixes will be adjusted similarly (e.g. in the previous example, hdfscli-avro would become hdfs-avro).