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I've built a Hadoop cluster by installing most packages manually (using binaries or source). I opted not to use a custom distribution like Cloudera, MapR or Hortonworks, since I wanted the flexibility that comes with choosing what packages and versions to use.

However, most of these distros have excellent admin and monitoring tools, which would make our dev-ops' life simpler. Are there any such tools out there that are distro-free? I don't care if they are free or licensed, just that they'd work with a custom built cluster. Thanks.

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There are quite a few. Check and you will find plenty plugins to monitor hdfs, tasktrachers, namenodes and more.

See this ppt for graphing resource usage using cacti and nagios checks --

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