Raymond Raymond / The Data Engineering Column

Install Airflow on Windows via Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)

event 2022-01-08 visibility 7,387 comment 0 insights toc
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Airflow is a Python based workflow tool published by Apache to allow you to create, schedule and monitor workflows programmatically. It's a common tool used in modern data engineering practice. This article show you how to install Airflow on your Windows 10 or 11 systems via WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux).


Install Airflow on WSL

Now we can install Airflow in WSL.

Create AIRFLOW_HOME variable

Add the following line to ~/.bashrc file to setup the variable:

export AIRFLOW_HOME=~/airflow

And then source it:

source ~/.bashrc

Install Airflow package

Run the following commands to install it:

PYTHON_VERSION="$(python --version | cut -d " " -f 2 | cut -d "." -f 1-2)"
pip3 install "apache-airflow==${AIRFLOW_VERSION}" --constraint "${CONSTRAINT_URL}"

If you notice warning message like the following:

WARNING: The script airflow is installed in '/home/***/.local/bin' which is not on PATH.

Add the path to PATH environment variable so that you can use commands like airflow. You can do this by editing ~/.brashrc.

export PATH=$PATH:~/.local/bin

Remember to source the new settings:

source ~/.bashrc

Initialize database

Run the following command to initialize the database:

airflow db init


This command will create the AIRFLOW_HOME folder with configuration file and the default SQLite database for storing data. Check out file $AIRFLOW_HOME/airflow.cfg for all the configuration items.

Create an admin user

Now let's create an admin account using the following command:

airflow users create \
    --username admin \
    --firstname Raymond \
    --lastname Tang \
    --role Admin \
    --email ***@kontext.tech

You need to input a password for the user:


Start webserver service

Now you can run the following command to start the webserver service:

airflow webserver --port 8080

Remember to change the port number to a different one if it is already used by other services in your system.

Open the website in browser: http://localhost:8080/

The login screen looks like the following screenshot:


Input these details to sign in:

  • Username: admin
  • Password: the password you input previously when setting up.

After login, the home page will show all the default example DAGs:


Start scheduler service

If you want to enable scheduling service, run the following command in a different Bash/WSL window:

airflow scheduler

The command will print out these texts:


You can stop the service by press Ctrl + C.

Run example workflow

We can run the built-in example workflow using airflow tasks run command:

airflow tasks run
usage: airflow tasks run [-h] [--cfg-path CFG_PATH] [--error-file ERROR_FILE] [-f] [-A] [-i] [-I] [-N] [-l] [-m]
[-p PICKLE] [--pool POOL] [--ship-dag] [-S SUBDIR]
dag_id task_id execution_date_or_run_id

Run this command:

airflow tasks run example_bash_operator runme_0 2022-01-08

The command will trigger task runme_0 in DAG example_bash_operator:


Rou can also backfill jobs for historical dates:

airflow dags backfill --start-date "2022-01-01" --end-date 2022-01-05 example_bash_operator


Running Airflow locally

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