If the hive cli is configured to use a remote metastore, ALTER TABLE ... ADD PARTITION commands will fail with an error similar to the following:
[pradeepk@chargesize:~/dev/howl]hive --auxpath ult-serde.jar -e "ALTER TABLE mytable add partition(datestamp = '20091101', srcid = '10',action) location '/user/pradeepk/mytable/20091101/10';"
10/06/16 17:08:59 WARN conf.Configuration: DEPRECATED: hadoop-site.xml found in the classpath. Usage of hadoop-site.xml is deprecated. Instead use core-site.xml, mapred-site.xml and hdfs-site.xml to override properties of core-default.xml, mapred-default.xml and hdfs-default.xml respectively
Hive history file=/tmp/pradeepk/hive_job_log_pradeepk_201006161709_1934304805.txt
FAILED: Error in metadata: org.apache.thrift.TApplicationException: get_partition failed: unknown result
FAILED: Execution Error, return code 1 from org.apache.hadoop.hive.ql.exec.DDLTask
This is due to a check that tries to retrieve the partition to see if it exists. If it does not, an attempt is made to pass a null value from the metastore. Since thrift does not support null return values, an exception is thrown.