My Amazon EMR cluster fails to launch and I get the error "bootstrap action returned a non-zero return code"

Last updated: 2020-10-07

I created a custom bootstrap action for my Amazon EMR cluster. The cluster fails to launch, and the bootstrap action returns an error similar to the following: "bootstrap action 1 returned a non-zero return code".

Short description

Bootstrap actions run after Amazon EMR provisions the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances in the cluster. When a bootstrap action fails, Amazon EMR terminates the instance. For more information, see Understanding the cluster lifecycle.

If a bootstrap action fails because of an error in the bootstrap script, the cluster can't launch. For more information, see Bootstrap action basics.


To determine why a bootstrap action failed, review the stderr logs for your bootstrap action. These logs are located in an Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) path similar to the following:


If you can't determine why the script failed after reviewing the stderr logs, modify your script to provide additional debug information. For example, set the -ex parameters in the bash script. This allows you to view the bash script flow in the bootstrap action log files.

Note: If the failed bootstrap action isn't a bootstrap action that you created (for example, if you created six bootstrap actions and the error message is "bootstrap action 7 failed with non-zero exit code"), it indicates that Amazon EMR couldn't install applications or start services. This problem is rare. To resolve this issue, try launching the cluster again.

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