» Join a Cluster

In the previous page, we started our first agent. While it showed how easy it is to run Serf, it wasn't very exciting since we simply made a cluster of one member. In this page, we'll create a real cluster with multiple members.

When starting a Serf agent, it begins without knowledge of any other node, and is an isolated cluster of one. To learn about other cluster members, the agent must join an existing cluster. To join an existing cluster, Serf only needs to know about a single existing member. After it joins, the agent will gossip with this member and quickly discover the other members in the cluster.

» Starting the Agents

To simulate a more realistic cluster, we are using a two node cluster in Vagrant. The Vagrantfile can be found in the demo section of the repo here.

We start the first agent on our first node and also specify a node name. The node name must be unique and is how a machine is uniquely identified. By default it is the hostname of the machine, but we'll manually override it. We are also providing a bind address. This is the address that Serf listens on, and it must be accessible by all other nodes in the cluster.

$ serf agent -node=agent-one -bind=

Then, in another terminal, start the second agent on the new node. This time, we set the bind address to match the IP of the second node as specified in the Vagrantfile. In production, you will generally want to provide a bind address or interface as well.

$ serf agent -node=agent-two -bind=

At this point, you have two Serf agents running. The two Serf agents still don't know anything about each other, and are each part of their own clusters (of one member). You can verify this by running serf members against each agent and noting that only one member is a part of each.

» Joining a Cluster

Now, let's tell the first agent to join the second agent by running the following command in a new terminal:

$ serf join
Successfully joined cluster by contacting 1 nodes.

You should see some log output in each of the agent logs. If you read carefully, you'll see that they received join information. If you run serf members against each agent, you'll see that both agents now know about each other:

$ serf members
agent-one    alive
agent-two    alive

In addition to using serf join you can use the -join flag on serf agent to join a cluster as part of starting up the agent.

» Leaving a Cluster

To leave the cluster, you can either gracefully quit an agent (using Ctrl-C) or force kill one of the agents. Gracefully leaving allows the node to transition into the left state, otherwise other nodes will detect it as having failed. The difference is covered in more detail here.