impala-shell Configuration Options

You can specify the following options when starting the impala-shell command to change how shell commands are executed. The table shows the format to use when specifying each option on the command line, or through the impala-shell configuration file.


These options are different than the configuration options for the impalad daemon itself. For the impalad options, see Modifying Impala Startup Options.

Summary of impala-shell Configuration Options

The following table shows the names and allowed arguments for the impala-shell configuration options. You can specify options on the command line, or in a configuration file as described in impala-shell Configuration File.

Command-Line Option Configuration File Setting Explanation

-B or



Causes all query results to be printed in plain format as a delimited text file. Useful for producing data files to be used with other Hadoop components. Also useful for avoiding the performance overhead of pretty-printing all output, especially when running benchmark tests using queries returning large result sets. Specify the delimiter character with the --output_delimiter option. Store all query results in a file rather than printing to the screen with the -B option. Added in Impala 1.0.1.

-b or




If set, the setting overrides the expected hostname of the Impala daemon's Kerberos service principal. impala-shell will check that the server's principal matches this hostname. This may be used when impalad is configured to be accessed via a load-balancer, but it is desired for impala-shell to talk to a specific impalad directly.



-o filename or

--output_file filename


Stores all query results in the specified file. Typically used to store the results of a single query issued from the command line with the -q option. Also works for interactive sessions; you see the messages such as number of rows fetched, but not the actual result set. To suppress these incidental messages when combining the -q and -o options, redirect stderr to /dev/null. Added in Impala 1.0.1.



Specifies the character to use as a delimiter between fields when query results are printed in plain format by the -B option. Defaults to tab ('\t'). If an output value contains the delimiter character, that field is quoted, escaped by doubling quotation marks, or both. Added in Impala 1.0.1.

-E or



Print the output of a query (rows) vertically, no effects if -B is specified. Added in Impala 4.2.

-p or



Displays the query execution plan (same output as the EXPLAIN statement) and a more detailed low-level breakdown of execution steps, for every query executed by the shell.

-h or



Displays help information.



Sets the maximum number of queries to store in the history file.

-i hostname or



Connects to the impalad daemon on the specified host. The default port of 21050 is assumed unless you provide another value. You can connect to any host in your cluster that is running impalad. If you connect to an instance of impalad that was started with an alternate port specified by the --fe_port flag, provide that alternative port.

-q query or



Passes a query or other impala-shell command from the command line. The impala-shell interpreter immediately exits after processing the statement. It is limited to a single statement, which could be a SELECT, CREATE TABLE, SHOW TABLES, or any other statement recognized in impala-shell. Because you cannot pass a USE statement and another query, fully qualify the names for any tables outside the default database. (Or use the -f option to pass a file with a USE statement followed by other queries.)

-f query_file or



Passes a SQL query from a file. Multiple statements must be semicolon (;) delimited. In Impala 2.3 and higher, you can specify a filename of - to represent standard input. This feature makes it convenient to use impala-shell as part of a Unix pipeline where SQL statements are generated dynamically by other tools.




-Q "option=


Header line [impala.query_options], followed on subsequent lines by option=value, one option per line.

Sets default query options for an invocation of the impala-shell command. To set multiple query options at once, use more than one instance of this command-line option. The query option names are not case-sensitive.

-k or



Kerberos authentication is used when the shell connects to impalad. If Kerberos is not enabled on the instance of impalad to which you are connecting, errors are displayed.

See Enabling Kerberos Authentication for Impala for the steps to set up and use Kerberos authentication in Impala.

-s kerberos_service_name or



Instructs impala-shell to authenticate to a particular impalad service principal. If a kerberos_service_name is not specified, impala is used by default. If this option is used in conjunction with a connection in which Kerberos is not supported, errors are returned.

-V or



Enables verbose output.



Disables verbose output.

-v or



Displays version information.



Continues on query failure.

-d default_db or



Specifies the database to be used on startup. Same as running the USE statement after connecting. If not specified, a database named DEFAULT is used.

-ssl ssl=true Enables TLS/SSL for impala-shell.
--ca_cert=path_to_certificate ca_cert=path_to_certificate The local pathname pointing to the third-party CA certificate, or to a copy of the server certificate for self-signed server certificates. If --ca_cert is not set, impala-shell enables TLS/SSL, but does not validate the server certificate. This is useful for connecting to a known-good Impala that is only running over TLS/SSL, when a copy of the certificate is not available (such as when debugging customer installations).
-l use_ldap=true Enables LDAP authentication.
-u user=user_name Supplies the username, when LDAP authentication is enabled by the -l option. (Specify the short username, not the full LDAP distinguished name.) The shell then prompts interactively for the password.
--ldap_password_cmd=command N/A Specifies a command to run to retrieve the LDAP password, when LDAP authentication is enabled by the -l option. If the command includes space-separated arguments, enclose the command and its arguments in quotation marks.
--config_file=path_to_config_file N/A Specifies the path of the file containing impala-shell configuration settings. The default is /etc/impalarc. This setting can only be specified on the command line.
--live_progress live_progress=true Prints a progress bar showing roughly the percentage complete for each query. The information is updated interactively as the query progresses. See LIVE_PROGRESS Query Option (Impala 2.3 or higher only).
--disable_live_progress live_progress=false A command line flag allows users to disable live_progress in the interactive mode.
--live_summary N/A Prints a detailed report, similar to the SUMMARY command, showing progress details for each phase of query execution. The information is updated interactively as the query progresses. See LIVE_SUMMARY Query Option (Impala 2.3 or higher only).
--var=variable_name=value N/A Defines a substitution variable that can be used within the impala-shell session. The variable can be substituted into statements processed by the -q or -f options, or in an interactive shell session. Within a SQL statement, you substitute the value by using the notation ${var:variable_name}. This feature is available in Impala 2.5 and higher.
--auth_creds_ok_in_clear N/A Allows LDAP authentication to be used with an insecure connection to the shell. WARNING: This will allow authentication credentials to be sent unencrypted, and hence may be vulnerable to an attack.
--protocol=protocol N/A Protocol to use for the connection to Impala.
Valid protocol values are:
  • 'hs2': Impala-shell uses the binary TCP based transport to speak to the Impala Daemon via the HiveServer2 protocol. This is the current default setting.
  • 'hs2-http': Impala-shell uses HTTP transport to speak to the Impala Daemon via the HiveServer2 protocol.
  • 'beeswax': Impala-shell uses the binary TCP based transport to speak to the Impala Daemon via Beeswax.

You cannot connect to the 3.2 or earlier versions of Impala using the 'hs2' or 'hs2-http' option.

Beeswax support is deprecated and will be removed in the future.

--hs2_fp_format=HS2_FP_FORMAT hs2_fp_format=HS2_FP_FORMAT Sets the printing format specification for floating point values when using HS2 protocol. The default behaviour makes the values handled by Python's str() built-in method. Use '16G' to match Beeswax protocol's floating-point output format This feature is available in Impala 4.2 and higher.

impala-shell Configuration File

You can store a set of default settings for impala-shell in the impala-shell configuration file.

The global impala-shell configuration file is located in /etc/impalarc.

The user-level impala-shell configuration file is located in ~/.impalarc.

Note that the global-level file name is different from the user-level file name. The global-level file name does not include a dot (.) in the file name.

The default path of the global configuration file can be changed by setting the $IMPALA_SHELL_GLOBAL_CONFIG_FILE environment variable.

To specify a different file name or path for the user-level configuration file, start impala-shell with the --config_file impala-shell option set to the path of the configuration file.

Typically, an administrator creates the global configuration file for the impala-shell, and if the user-level configuration file exists, the options set in the user configuration file take precedence over those in the global configuration file.

In turn, any options you specify on the impala-shell command line override any corresponding options within the configuration file.

The impala-shell configuration file (global or user) configuration file must contain a header label [impala], followed by the options specific to impala-shell.

The impala-shell configuration file consists of key-value pairs, one option per line. Everything after the # character on a line is treated as a comment and ignored.

The names of the options in the configuration file are similar (although not necessarily identical) to the long-form command-line arguments to the impala-shell command. For the names to use, see Summary of impala-shell Configuration Options.

You can specify key-value pair options using keyval, similar to the --var command-line option. For example, keyval=variable1=value1.

The query options specified in the [impala] section override the options specified in the [impala.query_options] section.

The following example shows a configuration file that you might use during benchmarking tests. It sets verbose mode, so that the output from each SQL query is followed by timing information. impala-shell starts inside the database containing the tables with the benchmark data, avoiding the need to issue a USE statement or use fully qualified table names.

In this example, the query output is formatted as delimited text rather than enclosed in ASCII art boxes, and is stored in a file rather than printed to the screen. Those options are appropriate for benchmark situations, so that the overhead of impala-shell formatting and printing the result set does not factor into the timing measurements. It also enables the show_profiles option. That option prints detailed performance information after each query, which might be valuable in understanding the performance of benchmark queries.


The following example shows a configuration file that connects to a specific remote Impala node, runs a single query within a particular database, then exits. Any query options predefined under the [impala.query_options] section in the configuration file take effect during the session.

You would typically use this kind of single-purpose configuration setting with the impala-shell command-line option --config_file=path_to_config_file, to easily select between many predefined queries that could be run against different databases, hosts, or even different clusters. To run a sequence of statements instead of a single query, specify the configuration option query_file=path_to_query_file instead.

# Issue a predefined query and immediately exit.
query=select count(*) from web_traffic where event_date = trunc(now(),'dd')