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I mean each Datanode frequently sends a heartbeat and block report (list of av. blocks) to the Namenode. If a Datanode does not send a heartbeat before dfs.namenode.stale.datanode.interval is reached, the Datanode is marked dead.
Each block replica on a DataNode is represented by two files in the local native filesystem. The first file contains the data itself and the second file records the block's metadata including checksums for the data and the generation stamp. The size of the data file equals the actual length of the block and does not require extra space to round it up to the nominal block size as in traditional filesystems. Thus, if a block is half full it needs only half of the space of the full block on the local drive.
During startup each DataNode connects to the NameNode and performs a handshake. The purpose of the handshake is to verify the namespace ID and the software version of the DataNode. If either does not match that of the NameNode, the DataNode automatically shuts down.
The namespace ID is assigned to the filesystem instance when it is formatted. The namespace ID is persistently stored on all nodes of the cluster. Nodes with a different namespace ID will not be able to join the cluster, thus protecting the integrity of the filesystem. A DataNode that is newly initialized and without any namespace ID is permitted to join the cluster and receive the cluster's namespace ID.
After the handshake the DataNode registers with the NameNode. DataNodes persistently store their unique storage IDs. The storage ID is an internal identifier of the DataNode, which makes it recognizable even if it is restarted with a different IP address or port. The storage ID is assigned to the DataNode when it registers with the NameNode for the first time and never changes after that.
A DataNode identifies block replicas in its possession to the NameNode by sending a block report. A block report contains the block ID, the generation stamp and the length for each block replica the server hosts. The first block report is sent immediately after the DataNode registration. Subsequent block reports are sent every hour and provide the NameNode with an up-to-date view of where block replicas are located on the cluster.
During normal operation DataNodes send heartbeats to the NameNode to confirm that the DataNode is operating and the block replicas it hosts are available. The default heartbeat interval is three seconds. If the NameNode does not receive a heartbeat from a DataNode in ten minutes the NameNode considers the DataNode to be out of service and the block replicas hosted by that DataNode to be unavailable. The NameNode then schedules creation of new replicas of those blocks on other DataNodes.
Heartbeats from a DataNode also carry information about total storage capacity, fraction of storage in use, and the number of data transfers currently in progress. These statistics are used for the NameNode's block allocation and load balancing decisions.
The NameNode does not directly send requests to DataNodes. It uses replies to heartbeats to send instructions to the DataNodes. The instructions include commands to replicate blocks to other nodes, remove local block replicas, re-register and send an immediate block report, and shut down the node.
These commands are important for maintaining the overall system integrity and therefore it is critical to keep heartbeats frequent even on big clusters. The NameNode can process thousands of heartbeats per second without affecting other NameNode operations.
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