How to install PySpark locally

Posted By Jakub Nowacki, 11 August 2017

For both our training as well as analysis and development in SigDelta, we often use Apache Spark’s Python API, aka PySpark. Despite the fact, that Python is present in Apache Spark from almost the beginning of the project (version 0.7.0 to be exact), the installation was not exactly the pip-install type of setup Python community is used to.

This has changed recently as, finally, PySpark has been added to Python Package Index PyPI and, thus, it become much easier. In this post I will walk you through all the typical local setup of PySpark to work on your own machine. This will allow you to better start and develop PySpark applications and analysis, follow along tutorials and experiment in general, without the need (and cost) of running a separate cluster. Also, we will give some tips to often neglected Windows audience on how to run PySpark on your favourite system.



To code anything in Python, you would need Python interpreter first. Since I am mostly doing Data Science with PySpark, I suggest Anaconda by Continuum Analytics, as it will have most of the things you would need in the future. For any new projects I suggest Python 3.

Warning! There is a PySpark issue with Python 3.6 (and up), which has been fixed in Spark 2.1.1. If you for some reason need to use the older version of Spark, make sure you have older Python than 3.6. You can do it either by creating conda environment, e.g.:

conda create -n py35 python=3.5 anaconda

See this document for details.


Since Spark runs in JVM, you will need Java on your machine. I suggest you get Java Development Kit as you may want to experiment with Java or Scala at the later stage of using Spark as well.

  1. Java 8 JDK can be downloaded from the Oracle site.
  2. Install Java following the steps on the page.
  3. Add JAVA_HOME environment variable to your system
    • on *nix, e.g.: export JAVA_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/java-1.8.0-openjdk-amd64
    • on Windows, e.g.: JAVA_HOME: C:\Progra~1\Java\jdk1.8.0_141 see this description for dedails

Other tools

There are no other tools required to initially work with PySpark, nonetheless, some of the below tools may be useful.

For your codes or to get source of other projects you may need Git. It will also work great with keeping your source code changes tracking.

You may need to use some Python IDE in the near future; we suggest PyCharm for Python, or Intellij IDEA for Java and Scala, with Python plugin to use PySpark.

Hadoop binary (only for Windows users)

While Spark does not use Hadoop directly, it uses HDFS client to work with files. On the other hand, HDFS client is not capable of working with NTFS, i.e. the default Windows file system, without a binary compatibility layer in form of DLL file. You can build Hadoop on Windows yourself see this wiki for details), it is quite tricky. So the best way is to get some prebuild version of Hadoop for Windows, for example the one available on GitHub works quite well.

  1. Download file
  2. Extract it is some place, e.g. C:\Tools\Hadoop is a good place to start.
  3. Create HADOOP_HOME environment variable pointing to your installation folder selected above.
  4. Add Hadoop bin folder to your Windows Path variable as %HADOOP_HOME%\bin.
  5. You may need to restart your machine for all the processes to pick up the changes.

Installing PySpark via PyPI

The most convenient way of getting Python packages is via PyPI using pip or similar command. For a long time though, PySpark was not available this way. Nonetheless, starting from the version 2.1, it is now available to install from the Python repositories. Note that this is good for local execution or connecting to a cluster from your machine as a client, but does not have capacity to setup as Spark standalone cluster: you need the prebuild binaries for that; see the next section about the setup using prebuilt Spark.

Thus, to get the latest PySpark on your python distribution you need to just use the pip command, e.g.:

pip install pyspark

If you work on Anaconda, you may consider using the distribution tools of choice, i.e. conda, which you can use as following:

conda install -c conda-forge pyspark

Note that currently Spark is only available from the conda-forge repository. Also, only version 2.1.1 and newer are available this way; if you need older version, use the prebuilt binaries.

Warning! Pip/conda install does not fully work on Windows as of yet, but the issue is being solved; see SPARK-18136 for details. Installing PySpark on Anaconda on Windows Subsystem for Linux works fine and it is a viable workaround; I’ve tested it on Ubuntu 16.04 on Windows without any problems.

Installing PySpark using prebuilt binaries

This is the classical way of setting PySpark up, and it’ i’s the most versatile way of getting it. It requires a few more steps than the pip-based setup, but it is also quite simple, as Spark project provides the built libraries.

  1. Get Spark from the project’s download site.
    • You can select version but I advise taking the newest one, if you don’t have any preferences.
    • You can select Hadoop version but, again, get the newest one 2.7.
  2. Extract the archive to a directory, e.g.:
    • on *nix: $HOME/tools/spark
    • on Windows: C:\Tools\spark
  3. Create SPARK_HOME environmental variable, e.g:
  4. Add Spark paths to PATH and PYTHONPATH environmental variables:
    • on *nix:
    • export PATH=$PATH:$SPARK_HOME/bin
    • PYTHONPATH=$SPARK_HOME/python:$SPARK_HOME/python/lib/py4j-<version>$PYTHONPATH * on Windows, e.g.:
    • Path: %Path%; %SPARK_HOME%\bin
    • PYTHONPATH: %SPARK_HOME%\python;%SPARK_HOME%\python\lib\py4j-<version> * Warning! The version of Py4J source package changes between the Spark versions, thus, check what <version> you have in your Spark and change the placeholder accordingly.

You can now test Spark by running the below code in the PySpark interpreter:

# Start pyspark via provided command
import pyspark

# Below code is Spark 2+
spark ='test').getOrCreate()



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