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Apache Spark Local Setup Guide

By: Adam Richardson
In this blog post, you will learn how to setup Apache Spark on your computer. This means you can learn Apache Spark with a local install at 0 cost.


In this article, we’re going to talk through setting up Apache Spark on your local machine, along with the development environment to follow along with this course.

If you didn’t read our previous post on what is Apache Spark and should you be using it, check it out here

What we are setting up

We are focussed on writing Apache Spark code with Python in this guide. That means we’re going to install the Python Library. We’re going to install Anaconda to manage this process and make it super easy. Then we’re going to make use of Jupyter notebooks to write and run our code.


Anaconda is a free and open-source distribution of the Python and R programming languages for scientific computing, data science, and machine learning. It includes a wide range of packages and tools for data analysis and visualization, as well as popular libraries such as NumPy, Pandas, scikit-learn, and TensorFlow.

One of the main benefits of Anaconda is that it simplifies the process of installing and managing packages and libraries. Instead of installing each package individually, you can use Anaconda to install everything you need in one go. Anaconda also comes with a package manager called conda, which allows you to easily install, update, and remove packages, as well as create and manage virtual environments.

Installing Anaconda

  1. Download Anaconda: The first step is to download Anaconda from the Anaconda website (https://www.anaconda.com/products/individual). You should select the version that is compatible with your operating system (e.g., Windows, macOS, or Linux).

  2. Install Anaconda: Once the download is complete, open the installation file and follow the prompts to install Anaconda. You may be asked to choose which components to install and where to install Anaconda. It is recommended to accept the default options.

  3. Launch Anaconda Navigator: After the installation is complete, launch Anaconda Navigator. This will open a window that allows you to manage your Anaconda installation and launch various applications, including Jupyter notebooks.

Once you’ve completed the steps above, you should see a screen like this

Installing PySpark

Now that you have Anaconda, we can install PySpark really simply.

Open up Anaconda Prompt

Anaconda Navigator

Enter the following command, press enter

pip install pyspark

Anaconda Navigator

Once that’s done, we’re ready to start writing some code.

Jupyter Notebooks

We’re going to be running our code in Jupyter notebooks. One of the main benefits of Jupyter notebooks is that they allow you to write and run code in a flexible and interactive way. You can mix code blocks with text, equations, and visualizations, and you can run the code blocks one at a time or all at once. This makes it easy to test and debug code, as well as to document and share your work.

To get started, simply hit launch where you see Jupyter in Anaconda Navigator.

This will launch a terminal session, along with a window in your web browser where you can navigate.

If you just want to launch a Jupyter notebook, you can also just search for Jupyter and launch from there

Jupyter Notebook Launch

Create a new notebook

I’ve created a folder called Pyspark Tutorial which I will be using to store all of the files for this course.

From there, in the top right you should see a button for new. Simply hit new and choose the Python Notebook.

New Jupyter Notebook

This should launch another web browser window, and you’re now ready to start writing some code!

Jupyter Notebooks

If you’re not familiar with Jupyter notebooks, you can check out our introduction to Jupyter notebooks guide.

Test PySpark is working

We will talk about this more, however let’s just validate that this is working

from pyspark.sql import SparkSession

spark = SparkSession.builder.getOrCreate()


The output should be <class 'pyspark.sql.session.SparkSession'>

Let’s look at what this is doing

Creating a Spark Session

  • from pyspark.sql import SparkSession: This imports the SparkSession class from the pyspark.sql module. A SparkSession is used to create a connection to a Spark cluster, and to create DataFrames and Datasets (which are data structures used in Spark).

  • spark = SparkSession.builder.getOrCreate(): This creates a SparkSession object. The builder attribute is used to create a SparkSession.Builder, which can be used to configure the SparkSession. The getOrCreate() method creates a SparkSession, or if one already exists, returns the active one.

So, in summary, this code creates a SparkSession object, which is used to create a connection to a Spark cluster and to create DataFrames and Datasets. You will write this code at the beginning of each notebook if you’re developing in a local environment. If you’re working in an integrated environment such as DataBricks, this should already be setup for you and configured on the cluster so you won’t need this code.


Now that you have everything setup and working, we’re ready to start using Apache Spark with Python.

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