Deploying a Pulsar cluster on bare metal

Single-cluster Pulsar installations should be sufficient for all but the most ambitious use cases. If you’re interested in experimenting with Pulsar or using it in a startup or on a single team, we recommend opting for a single cluster. If you do need to run a multi-cluster Pulsar instance, however, see the guide here.

Deploying a Pulsar cluster involves doing the following (in order):


To run Pulsar on bare metal, you will need:

  • At least 6 Linux machines or VMs
  • A single DNS name covering all of the Pulsar broker hosts

Each machine in your cluster will need to have Java 8 or higher installed.

Here’s a diagram showing the basic setup:

In this diagram, connecting clients need to be able to communicate with the Pulsar cluster using a single URL, in this case, that abstracts over all of the message-handling brokers. Pulsar message brokers run on machines alongside BookKeeper bookies; brokers and bookies, in turn, rely on ZooKeeper.

Hardware considerations

When deploying a Pulsar cluster, we have some basic recommendations that you should keep in mind when capacity planning.

For machines running ZooKeeper, we recommend using lighter-weight machines or VMs. Pulsar uses ZooKeeper only for periodic coordination- and configuration-related tasks, not for basic operations. If you’re running Pulsar on Amazon Web Services (AWS), for example, a t2.small instance would likely suffice.

For machines running a bookie and a Pulsar broker, we recommend using more powerful machines. For an AWS deployment, for example, i3.4xlarge instances may be appropriate. On those machines we also recommend:

Installing the Pulsar binary package

You’ll need to install the Pulsar binary package on each machine in the cluster, including machines running ZooKeeper and BookKeeper.

To get started deploying a Pulsar cluster on bare metal, you’ll need to download a binary tarball release in one of the following ways:

Once you’ve downloaded the tarball, untar it and cd into the resulting directory:

$ tar xvzf apache-pulsar-1.20.0-incubating-bin.tar.gz
$ cd apache-pulsar-1.20.0-incubating

The untarred directory contains the following subdirectories:

Directory Contains
bin Pulsar’s command-line tools, such as pulsar and pulsar-admin
conf Configuration files for Pulsar, including for broker configuration, ZooKeeper configuration, and more
data The data storage directory used by ZooKeeper and BookKeeper.
lib The JAR files used by Pulsar.
logs Logs created by the installation.

Deploying a ZooKeeper cluster

ZooKeeper manages a variety of essential coordination- and configuration-related tasks for Pulsar. To deploy a Pulsar cluster you’ll need to deploy ZooKeeper first (before all other components). We recommend deploying a 3-node ZooKeeper cluster. Pulsar does not make heavy use of ZooKeeper, so more lightweight machines or VMs should suffice for running ZooKeeper.

To begin, add all ZooKeeper servers to the configuration specified in conf/zookeeper.conf (in the Pulsar directory you created above). Here’s an example:

On each host, you need to specify the ID of the node in each node’s myid file, which is in each server’s data/zookeeper folder by default (this can be changed via the dataDir parameter).

See the Multi-server setup guide in the ZooKeeper documentation for detailed info on myid and more.

On a ZooKeeper server at, for example, you could set the myid value like this:

$ mkdir -p data/zookeeper
$ echo 1 > data/zookeeper/myid

On the command would be echo 2 > data/zookeeper/myid and so on.

Once each server has been added to the zookeeper.conf configuration and has the appropriate myid entry, you can start ZooKeeper on all hosts (in the background, using nohup) with the pulsar-daemon CLI tool:

$ bin/pulsar-daemon start zookeeper

Initializing cluster metadata

Once you’ve deployed ZooKeeper for your cluster, there is some metadata that needs to be written to ZooKeeper for each cluster in your instance. It only needs to be written once.

You can initialize this metadata using the initialize-cluster-metadata command of the pulsar CLI tool. This command can be run on any machine in your ZooKeeper cluster. Here’s an example:

$ bin/pulsar initialize-cluster-metadata \
  --cluster pulsar-cluster-1 \
  --zookeeper \
  --global-zookeeper \
  --web-service-url \
  --web-service-url-tls \
  --broker-service-url pulsar:// \
  --broker-service-url-tls pulsar+ssl://

As you can see from the example above, the following needs to be specified:

Flag Description
--cluster A name for the cluster
--zookeeper A “local” ZooKeeper connection string for the cluster. This connection string only needs to include one machine in the ZooKeeper cluster.
--global-zookeeper The “global” ZooKeeper connection string for the entire instance. As with the --zookeeper flag, this connection string only needs to include one machine in the ZooKeeper cluster.
--web-service-url The web service URL for the cluster, plus a port. This URL should be a standard DNS name. The default port is 8080 (we don’t recommend using a different port).
--web-service-url-tls If you’re using TLS, you’ll also need to specify a TLS web service URL for the cluster. The default port is 8443 (we don’t recommend using a different port).
--broker-service-url A broker service URL enabling interaction with the brokers in the cluster. This URL should use the same DNS name as the web service URL but should use the pulsar scheme instead. The default port is 6650 (we don’t recommend using a different port).
--broker-service-url-tls If you’re using TLS, you’ll also need to specify a TLS web service URL for the cluster as well as a TLS broker service URL for the brokers in the cluster. The default port is 6651 (we don’t recommend using a different port).

Deploying a BookKeeper cluster

BookKeeper handles all persistent data storage in Pulsar. You will need to deploy a cluster of BookKeeper bookies to use Pulsar. We recommend running a 3-bookie BookKeeper cluster.

BookKeeper bookies can be configured using the conf/bookkeeper.conf configuration file. The most important step in configuring bookies for our purposes here is ensuring that the zkServers is set to the connection string for the ZooKeeper cluster. Here’s an example:,,

Once you’ve appropriately modified the zkServers parameter, you can provide any other configuration modifications you need. You can find a full listing of the available BookKeeper configuration parameters here, although we would recommend consulting the BookKeeper documentation for a more in-depth guide.

Once you’ve applied the desired configuration in conf/bookkeeper.conf, you can start up a bookie on each of your BookKeeper hosts. You can start up each bookie either in the background, using nohup, or in the foreground.

To start the bookie in the background, use the pulsar-daemon CLI tool:

$ bin/pulsar-daemon start bookie

To start the bookie in the foreground:

$ bin/bookkeeper bookie

You can verify that the bookie is working properly using the bookiesanity command for the BookKeeper shell:

$ bin/bookkeeper shell bookiesanity

This will create an ephemeral BookKeeper ledger on the local bookie, write a few entries, read them back, and finally delete the ledger.

Deploying Pulsar brokers

Pulsar brokers are the last thing you need to deploy in your Pulsar cluster. Brokers handle Pulsar messages and provide Pulsar’s administrative interface. We recommend running 3 brokers, one for each machine that’s already running a BookKeeper bookie.

The most important element of broker configuration is ensuring that that each broker is aware of the ZooKeeper cluster that you’ve deployed. Make sure that the zookeeperServers and globalZookeeperServers parameters. In this case, since we only have 1 cluster and no global ZooKeeper setup, the globalZookeeperServers will point to the same zookeeperServers.,,,,

You also need to specify the cluster name (matching the name that you provided when initializing the cluster’s metadata:


You can then provide any other configuration changes that you’d like in the conf/broker.conf file. Once you’ve decided on a configuration, you can start up the brokers for your Pulsar cluster. Like ZooKeeper and BookKeeper, brokers can be started either in the foreground or in the background, using nohup.

You can start a broker in the foreground using the pulsar broker command:

$ bin/pulsar broker

You can start a broker in the background using the pulsar-daemon CLI tool:

$ bin/pulsar-daemon start broker

Once you’ve succesfully started up all the brokers you intend to use, your Pulsar cluster should be ready to go!