[EDP] Add Oozie Shell Action job type


Oozie shell actions provide a great deal of flexibility and will empower users to easily customize and extend the features of Sahara EDP as needed. For example, a shell action could be used to manage hdfs on the cluster, do pre or post processing for another job launched from Sahara, or run a data processing job from a specialized launcher that does extra configuration not otherwise available from Sahara (ie, setting a special classpath for a Java job).

Problem description

Today if a user finds a limitation in Sahara EDP that prevents them from performing desired processing they have a few choices:

  • Log into the cluster nodes with ssh using the specified keypair and perform processing by hand. This may not be available to all users.
  • Write a Java application to do the custom processing and run it as a Java job in EDP. This can work, however we as developers know that Java is not often used as a scripting language; it’s a little too heavyweight and not everyone knows it.
  • Modify the Sahara source. A savvy user might extend Sahara EDP themselves to get the desired functionality. However, not everyone is a developer or has the time to understand Sahara enough to do this.
  • Submit a bug or a blueprint and wait for the Sahara team to address it.

However, the existence of shell actions would empower users to easily solve their own problems. With a shell action, a user can bundle files with a script written in bash, Python, etc and execute it on the cluster.

Here is a real-world example of a case that could be easily solved with a shell action:


In the above blueprint we are calling for additional features in Sahara as a convenience for users, but with a shell action a user could solve this problem on their own. A simple bash script can be written to launch a Java application like this:

java -cp HBaseTest.jar:`hbase classpath` HBaseTest

In this case a user would associate the script and the Java application with the shell job as job binaries and Sahara would execute the script.

In a similar case, Sahara EDP itself uses a Python wrapper around spark-submit to run Spark jobs. A shell action makes these kinds of launchers easily available to end users.

Proposed change

Add a Shell job type that is implemented by the Oozie EDP engine. (It is possible that other EDP engines, such as the Spark or Storm engines, could share a basic shell command implementation for such jobs but that would be another CR).

Shell jobs can use the existing mains and libs fields in a job execution. The script identified in mains will be the script that Sahara runs and the files in libs will be supporting files bundled in the working directory by Oozie.

As with other job types, shell actions will support configs and args passed in the existing job_configs field of a job execution. Values in configs are specified in the Oozie workflow with <configuration> tags and will be available in a file created by Oozie. The args are specified with the <argument> tag and will be passed to the shell script in order of specification.

In the reference section below there is a simple example of a shell action workflow. There are three tags in the workflow that for Sahara’s purposes are unique to the Shell action and should be handled by Sahara:

  • <exec>script</exec> This identifies the command that should be executed by the shell action. The value specified here will be the name of the script identified in mains. Technically, this can be any command on the path but it is probably simpler if we require it to be a script. Based on some experimentation, there are subtleties of path evaluation that can be avoided if a script is run from the working directory

  • <file>support.jar</file> This identifies a supporting file that will be included in the working directory. There will be a <file> tag for every file named in libs as well as the script identified in mains.

    (Note that the <file> tag can be used in Oozie in any workflow, but currently Sahara does not implement it at all. It is necessary for the shell action, which is why it’s mentioned here. Whether or not to add general support for <file> tags in Sahara is a different discussion)

  • <env-var>NAME=VALUE</env-var> The env-var tag sets a variable in the shell’s environment. Most likely we can use the existing params dictionary field in job_configs to pass env-var values even if we want to label them as “environment variables” in the UI.


Do nothing.

Data model impact

This change adds a new job type, but since job types are stored as strings it should not have any data model impact.

REST API impact

Only a change in validation code for job type

Other end user impact


Deployer impact

There may be security considerations related to Shell Action Caveats, bullet number 2, in the URL listed in the reference section.

It is unclear whether or not in Sahara EDP the user who started the TaskTracker is different than the user who submits a workflow. This needs investigation – how is Sahara authenticating to the Oozie client? What user is the Oozie server using to deploy jobs?

Developer impact


Sahara-image-elements impact


Sahara-dashboard / Horizon impact

We would need a new form for a Shell job type submission. The form should allow specification of a main script, supporting libs, configuration values, arguments, and environment variables (which are 100% analogous to params from the perspective of the UI)



Primary assignee:
Other contributors:

Work Items

  • Investigate user issue mentioned above (who is the user that runs shell actions in Sahara and what are the implications?)
  • Add a Shell job type and an implementation in the Oozie EDP engine components under the workflow_creator directory
  • Update job validation routines to handle the Shell job type
  • Add an integration test for Shell jobs
  • Update the EDP documentation to describe the Shell job type
  • Add a UI form for Shell job submission




  • Unit tests to cover creation of the Shell job
  • Integration tests to cover running of a simple shell job

Documentation Impact

The EDP sections of the documentation need updating



A simple Shell action workflow looks like this:

<workflow-app xmlns='uri:oozie:workflow:0.3' name='shell-wf'>
  <start to='shell1' />
  <action name='shell1'>
      <shell xmlns="uri:oozie:shell-action:0.1">
      <ok to="end" />
      <error to="fail" />
  <kill name="fail">
  <end name='end' />