This issue is similar to
HADOOP-7153. It was found when using MRUnit - see MRUNIT-158, specifically https://issues.apache.org/jira/browse/MRUNIT-158?focusedCommentId=13501985&page=com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.issuetabpanels:comment-tabpanel#comment-13501985
o.a.h.io.SortedMapWritable implements the java.util.Map interface, however it does not define an implementation of the equals() or hashCode() methods; instead the default implementations in java.lang.Object are used.
This violates the contract of the Map interface which defines different behaviour for equals() and hashCode() than Object does. More information here: http://download.oracle.com/javase/6/docs/api/java/util/Map.html#equals(java.lang.Object)
The practical consequence is that SortedMapWritables containing equal entries cannot be compared properly. We were bitten by this when trying to write an MRUnit test for a Mapper that outputs MapWritables; the MRUnit driver cannot test the equality of the expected and actual MapWritable objects.