How to Install Apache Kafka on Windows?

How to install and run Kafka on Microsoft Windows?

Start Kafka with Zookeeper

For maximum compatibility purposes, it is recommended to start Apache Kafka with Zookeeper. If you would like to run Kafka without Zookeeper, take a look here


Windows Issues

Kafka is not intended to be run on Windows natively and has several issues that may arise over time.

Therefore, it is recommended to run Apache Kafka on Windows through:

  • If using Windows 10 or above: WSL2 (see below) or Docker

  • If using Windows 8 or below: Docker

It is not recommended to run Kafka on the JVM on Windows, because it lacks some of the linux-specific features of POSIX for example. You will run into issues at some point if you try to run Kafka on Windows without WSL2. (examples: KAFKA-8811 and KAFKA-1194)

How to install Kafka with Zookeeper on Windows

  1. You must have Windows 10 or above

  2. Install WSL2

  3. Install Java JDK version 11

  4. Download Apache Kafka from under Binary


  6. Extract the contents on WSL2

  7. Start Zookeeper using the binaries in WSL2

  8. Start Kafka using the binaries in another process in WSL2

  9. Setup the $PATH environment variables for easy access to the Kafka binaries

Installing WSL2

WSL2 is Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 and provides a Linux environment for your Windows computer that does not require a virtual machine

You can use most Linux commands on WSL2 which makes your Kafka installation experience closer to the guides provided for Linux & Mac.

Installing WSL2

To install WSL2, make sure you're on Windows 10 version 2004 and higher (Build 19041 and higher) or Windows 11 To check your Windows version do Windows logo key + R, type winver, select OK

Steps to install WSL2 on Windows are described on the Microsoft Docs website:

You can now install everything you need to run Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) by entering this command in an administrator PowerShell or Windows Command Prompt and then restarting your machine.

1 wsl --install

This command will enable the required optional components, download the latest Linux kernel, set WSL 2 as your default, and install a Linux distribution for you (Ubuntu by default, see below to change this).

Screenshot showing that the Windows Subsystem for Linux, needed to install Apache Kafka on Windows has been successfully installed.
Troubleshooting Kafka on Windows

For troubleshooting common issues, here is a very helpful article from Microsoft.

The first time you launch a newly installed Linux distribution, a console window will open and you'll be asked to wait for files to de-compress and be stored on your machine. All future launches should take less than a second.

Set up your Linux username and password

Once the process of installing your Linux distribution with WSL is complete, open the distribution (Ubuntu by default) using the Start menu. You will be asked to create a Username and Password for your Linux distribution.

Screenshot of Ubuntu window showing that Linux Distribution with WSL is complete and a username and password are required to continue setting up Apache Kafka.
  • This Username and Password is specific to each separate Linux distribution that you install and has no bearing on your Windows user name.

  • Once you create a Username and Password, the account will be your default user for the distribution and automatically sign-in on launch.

  • This account will be considered the Linux administrator, with the ability to run sudo (Super User Do) administrative commands.

Disable IPv6 on WSL2

WSL2 currently has a networking issue that prevents outside programs to connect to Kafka running on WSL2 (for example your Java programs, Conduktor, etc...);

To fix this, we recommend disabling IPv6 on WSL2. Your Windows password will be prompted on the first command:

1 2 sudo sysctl -w net.ipv6.conf.all.disable_ipv6=1 sudo sysctl -w net.ipv6.conf.default.disable_ipv6=1

Installing Java JDK 11

To install Apache Kafka on WSL2 Ubuntu, Java 11 is the only prerequisite.

  1. Navigate to Amazon Corretto 11 Linux install page and follow the steps.

  2. For example on Ubuntu (Debian-based systems).

1 2 3 wget -O- | sudo apt-key add - sudo add-apt-repository 'deb stable main' sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get install -y java-11-amazon-corretto-jdk

3. Upon completion, you should get a similar output when doing java -version:

1 2 3 openjdk version "11.0.10" 2021-01-19 LTS OpenJDK Runtime Environment Corretto- (build 11.0.10+9-LTS) OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM Corretto- (build 11.0.10+9-LTS, mixed mode)shell

Install Apache Kafka

1. Download the latest version of Apache Kafka from under Binary downloads.

The download page for Apache Kafka where you can download and install Kafka.

2. Click on any of the binary downloads (it is preferred to choose the most recent Scala version - example 2.13). For this illustration, we will assume version 2.13-3.0.0.

Alternatively you can run a wget command

1 wget

3. Download and extract the contents to a directory of your choice, for example ~/kafka_2.13-3.0.0 .

1 2 tar xzf kafka_2.13-3.0.0.tgz mv kafka_2.13-3.0.0 ~

4. Open a Shell and navigate to the root directory of Apache Kafka. For this example, we will assume that the Kafka download is expanded into the ~/kafka_2.13-3.0.0 directory.

Start Zookeeper

Apache Kafka depends on Zookeeper for cluster management. Hence, prior to starting Kafka, Zookeeper has to be started. There is no need to explicitly install Zookeeper, as it comes included with Apache Kafka.

Make sure your JAVA_HOME environment variable is set first, as instructed in the Install Java section, so that Java 11 is used when doing java -version

From the root of Apache Kafka, run the following command to start Zookeeper:

1 ~/kafka_2.13-3.0.0/bin/ ~/kafka_2.13-3.0.0/config/
Shell window showing the processes associated with starting Zookeeper for Kafka on Windows.
Daemon Mode

You can use the -daemon flag to run Zookeeper in daemon mode in the background

Start Apache Kafka

Open another Shell window and run the following command from the root of Apache Kafka to start Apache Kafka.

1 ~/kafka_2.13-3.0.0/bin/ ~/kafka_2.13-3.0.0/config/
Shell window showing the processes associated with starting Zookeeper for Kafka on Windows.

Ensure to keep both shell windows opened, otherwise you will shut down Kafka or Zookeeper.

Kafka is now started, congratulations!

Setup the $PATH environment variable

In order to easily access the Kafka binaries, you can edit your PATH variable by adding the following line to your system run commands to~/.bashrc :


This ensures that you can now run the kafka commands without prefixing them.

After reloading your shell, the following should work from any directory


(optional) Changing the Kafka and Zookeeper data storage directory

For Zookeeper:

  • edit the file at ~/kafka_2.13-3.0.0/config/ and set the following to your heart's desire dataDir=/your/path/to/data/zookeeper

  • start Zookeeper using the update file as shown above

  • you can also make a copy of the file anywhere in your computer and edit that file instead, and reference it in the Zookeeper start command shown above

For Kafka:

  • edit the file at ~/kafka_2.13-3.0.0/config/ and set the following to your heart's desire log.dirs=/your/path/to/data/kafka

  • start Zookeeper using the update file as shown above

  • you can also make a copy of the file anywhere in your computer and edit that file instead, and reference it in the Zookeeper start command shown above

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I start Kafka directly on Java on Windows? It seems to be working...

Yes you can and things will appear that they're working, but then you WILL run into issues, as soon as log files are deleted, which is when Kafka rolls new segments, when you try to delete a topic, etc...

An image showing the type of critical issue you will encounter if you install Kafka directly via Java on Windows.

Can I use the Kafka binaries on Java on Windows against my WSL2 Kafka?

Yes, if you download the Kafka binaries on Windows and use commands such as kafka-topics.bat against your cluster running in WSL2, everything should work properly.

The only command you should not run on Windows is kafka-server-start

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