About (big) kafka broker id

I had quite a bit of fun setting up the kafka broker id, and those are my findings, hoping to save time to other poor souls like me.


Set up in your kafka config

  • nothing to have auto-generated ids
  • broker.id=something_big AND reserved.broker.max.id=something_even_bigger to manually set your ids up.

Long Story

The broker id is a unique identifier per broker. Each broker in the cluster must have a different id, which is a positive int (meaning for java something less than 2147483647). This is all fine and dandy and works nicely if your ids are increasing from 1, 2…

Another option, nice for automated deployment, would be to generate ids based on the ip address, which should be unique in a DC thus (probably) in a cluster. With puppet, a nice ruby expression in a template like:

broker.id=<%= @ipaddress.split('.').inject(0) {|total,value| (total << 8 ) + value.to_i} & 0X7FFFFFFFF %>

would nicely do to generate a 31 bit int from the 32 bits IP (java has no unsigned int, so we cannot use the full range), discarding only the highest bit to keep as much variability as possible.

Now, it so happens that kafka can generate its ids as well, from a zookeeper sequence. To make sure there is no collision, the auto-generated ids will not be under the undocumented reserved.broker.max.id value, which is 1000 by default.

Conversely, manual ids cannot be above this limit. If you dare set up in your config file an id above this, kafka will just not start, and more annoyingly not give you any feedback beyond an exit code of 1. The solution once you discover this configuration option is easy, just set it up as high as possible, for instance to the max int possible:


The problem was to find out that it actually was the problem.

On a side note, changing the id after the first kafka start is a very bad idea, and you will end up with a message saying for instance:

kafka.common.InconsistentBrokerIdException: Configured brokerId 999 doesn’t match stored brokerId 838 in meta.properties


7 thoughts on “About (big) kafka broker id

  1. Great content but well… what to do when we have this error message? Is there a way to clean the configured brokerId? What is this meta.properties file?

    • I found all that out during my tests which were under vagrant, so I could just scrap the virtual machine and start all over again, I did not need to actually fix the issue.

      My guess would be that you need to update some data in zookeeper, but this is a guess only and I cannot really tell you more.

      Good luck!

      • I was finally able to locate this meta.properties file which is in the Kafka logs directory. For me it was in /tmp/kafka-logs.
        Just removed this file and restarted the broker with a corrected server.properties (new broker id) has solved the issue.

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