Running Airflow in WSL but Using MySQL Server from Windows as Default


There are lots of benefit of using MySQL as a backend database in Airflow. Main reason is that MySQL is widely used in production instead of SQlite. Also, we can have scalable database system where we can have concurrent requests, high security and well defined permission and roles.

From the last few blogs, I've share how can we fully schedule DAGs written in Windows Machine from WSL. And we were using default Database, SQlite on those blogs but later we did connect to MySQL running in Windows from WSL. But in this blog, we will do clean install of Airflow in WSL and we will use MySQL as a Database. This blog is related to some of the previous blogs in some way but it is not required to go there.

Installing WSL

Using airflow in Windows machine is hard way to go but with the use of Docker one can do it easily. But I am using Ubuntu in WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) to use Airflow in my Windows.

Installing Airflow

(Referenced from here.)

  • Open the Ubuntu.

  • Update system packages.

    sudo apt update
    sudo apt upgrade
  • Installing PIP.

    sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
    sudo apt-add-repository universe
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install python-setuptools
    sudo apt install python3-pip
  • Run sudo nano /etc/wsl.conf then, insert the block below, save and exit with ctrl+s ctrl+x

root = /
options = "metadata"
  • To setup a airflow home, first make sure where to install it. Run nano ~/.bashrc, insert the line below, save and exit with ctrl+s ctrl+x

    export AIRFLOW_HOME=c/users/YOURNAME/airflowhome

    Mine is, /mnt/c/users/dell/myName/documents/airflow

  • Install virtualenv to create environment.

    sudo apt install python3-virtualenv
  • Create and activate environment.

    virtualenv airflow_env
    source airflow_env/bin/activate
  • Install airflow

    pip install apache-airflow
  • Make sure if Airflow is installed properly.

    airflow info

    If no error pops up, proceed else install missing packages.

Making Connection to MySQL Running in Windows From WSL

MySQL Client in WSL

First install MySQL client in WSL using below command which can be seen once we type mysql in WSL terminal.

sudo apt install mysql-client-core-8.0     # version 8.0.27-0ubuntu0.20.04.1, or
sudo apt install mariadb-client-core-10.3  # version 1:10.3.31-0ubuntu0.20.04.1

For me, I did first one.

Find IPv4 Address of WSL

  • Go to Settings -> Network and Internet -> Status -> View Hardware and connection properties. Look for the name vEthernet (WSL). It will usually be on the bottom.
  • My looks like below. But I've shaded the addresses.

Now try to connect to MySQL from WSL using below command:

mysql -u wsl_root -p -h

Please remember that in above command xxx is just a placeholder. Also, root is just a username that we tried to login with. We will get an error right now with above command and we will fix it.

Making New User in MySQL to make a Call from WSL

CREATE USER 'wsl_root'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';
CREATE USER 'wsl_root'@'%' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';

In above query,

  • wsl_root is a name of user that we will use from WSL. localhost is a address where MySQL is and password is password. 🙂
  • We have granted all privileges to that user and it will be just another admin.

From WSL

Now running the command mysql -u wsl_root -p -h and giving password after it asked, we could connect to the MySQL server.


Install MySQL Connector

Now we need to install MySQL Connection Provider for Airflow as:

pip install apache-airflow-providers-mysql

If error pops up, it might be because of our MySQL client's version. The fix in that case (from here):

  • For Debian 8 or older,
sudo apt-get install libmysqlclient-dev
  • For Debian > 8
sudo apt-get install default-libmysqlclient-dev

Creating Airflow Database

Now, lets go to our MySQL Workbench in Windows side and run below queries to setup our MySQL database:

CREATE DATABASE airflow_db CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci;
CREATE USER 'airflow_user' IDENTIFIED BY 'airflow_pass';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON airflow_db.* TO 'airflow_user';

In above code, we are creating a database airflow_db and also created user as airflow_user and granted all privileges.

Initializing Database,

First we need to edit our Airflow's configuration file. We should change the value of sql_alchemy_conn in airflow.cfg. This file is located at Airflow's home directory.

sql_alchemy_conn = mysql+mysqldb://wsl_root:password@my_ip:3306/airflow_db

Please change my_ip by the IPv4 Address we found in above step.

Now from WSL, do airflow db init. If no error pops up, we are good to go.

  • If a error comes saying "Operation is not Permitted" make sure you have write access to the $AIRFLOW_HOME folder from WSL. So do something like below:

    sudo chmod -R 777 /mnt/c/Users/Dell/Documents/airflow/
  • Create airflow user.

    airflow users create [-h] -e EMAIL -f FIRSTNAME -l LASTNAME [-p PASSWORD] -r
                         ROLE [--use-random-password] -u USERNAME

Run Webserver and Scheduler

Now lets open another Ubuntu terminal and run airflow webserver in it. Also run airflow scheduler in another terminal.

Next, open the Airflow's Web URl which must be http://localhost:8080 then sigin using the credentials that we just created in above step. If it works, we could try scheduling some of example DAGs shown there. And those should be running without any errors.

If we head over to the Workbench, we can see the tables being created and populated in airflow_db.

Thank you for your time.

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