How To Install Apache Kafka on Ubuntu 14.04

Published on August 12, 2015
How To Install Apache Kafka on Ubuntu 14.04
Not using Ubuntu 14.04?Choose a different version or distribution.
Ubuntu 14.04


Apache Kafka is a popular distributed message broker designed to handle large volumes of real-time data efficiently. A Kafka cluster is not only highly scalable and fault-tolerant, but it also has a much higher throughput compared to other message brokers such as ActiveMQ and RabbitMQ. Though it is generally used as a pub/sub messaging system, a lot of organizations also use it for log aggregation because it offers persistent storage for published messages.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to install and use Apache Kafka on Ubuntu 14.04.


To follow along, you will need:

Step 1 — Create a User for Kafka

As Kafka can handle requests over a network, you should create a dedicated user for it. This minimizes damage to your Ubuntu machine should the Kafka server be comprised.

Note: After setting up Apache Kafka, it is recommended that you create a different non-root user to perform other tasks on this server.

As root, create a user called kafka using the useradd command:

  1. useradd kafka -m

Set its password using passwd:

  1. passwd kafka

Add it to the sudo group so that it has the privileges required to install Kafka’s dependencies. This can be done using the adduser command:

  1. adduser kafka sudo

Your Kafka user is now ready. Log into it using su:

  1. su - kafka

Step 2 — Install Java

Before installing additional packages, update the list of available packages so you are installing the latest versions available in the repository:

  1. sudo apt-get update

As Apache Kafka needs a Java runtime environment, use apt-get to install the default-jre package:

  1. sudo apt-get install default-jre

Step 3 — Install ZooKeeper

Apache ZooKeeper is an open source service built to coordinate and synchronize configuration information of nodes that belong to a distributed system. A Kafka cluster depends on ZooKeeper to perform—among other things—operations such as detecting failed nodes and electing leaders.

Since the ZooKeeper package is available in Ubuntu’s default repositories, install it using apt-get.

  1. sudo apt-get install zookeeperd

After the installation completes, ZooKeeper will be started as a daemon automatically. By default, it will listen on port 2181.

To make sure that it is working, connect to it via Telnet:

  1. telnet localhost 2181

At the Telnet prompt, type in ruok and press ENTER.

If everything’s fine, ZooKeeper will say imok and end the Telnet session.

Step 4 — Download and Extract Kafka Binaries

Now that Java and ZooKeeper are installed, it is time to download and extract Kafka.

To start, create a directory called Downloads to store all your downloads.

  1. mkdir -p ~/Downloads

Use wget to download the Kafka binaries.

  1. wget "http://mirror.cc.columbia.edu/pub/software/apache/kafka/" -O ~/Downloads/kafka.tgz

Create a directory called kafka and change to this directory. This will be the base directory of the Kafka installation.

  1. mkdir -p ~/kafka && cd ~/kafka

Extract the archive you downloaded using the tar command.

  1. tar -xvzf ~/Downloads/kafka.tgz --strip 1

Step 5 — Configure the Kafka Server

The next step is to configure the Kakfa server.

Open server.properties using vi:

  1. vi ~/kafka/config/server.properties

By default, Kafka doesn’t allow you to delete topics. To be able to delete topics, add the following line at the end of the file:

delete.topic.enable = true

Save the file, and exit vi.

Step 6 — Start the Kafka Server

Run the kafka-server-start.sh script using nohup to start the Kafka server (also called Kafka broker) as a background process that is independent of your shell session.

  1. nohup ~/kafka/bin/kafka-server-start.sh ~/kafka/config/server.properties > ~/kafka/kafka.log 2>&1 &

Wait for a few seconds for it to start. You can be sure that the server has started successfully when you see the following messages in ~/kafka/kafka.log:

excerpt from ~/kafka/kafka.log


[2015-07-29 06:02:41,736] INFO New leader is 0 (kafka.server.ZookeeperLeaderElector$LeaderChangeListener)
[2015-07-29 06:02:41,776] INFO [Kafka Server 0], started (kafka.server.KafkaServer)

You now have a Kafka server which is listening on port 9092.

Step 7 — Test the Installation

Let us now publish and consume a “Hello World” message to make sure that the Kafka server is behaving correctly.

To publish messages, you should create a Kafka producer. You can easily create one from the command line using the kafka-console-producer.sh script. It expects the Kafka server’s hostname and port, along with a topic name as its arguments.

Publish the string “Hello, World” to a topic called TutorialTopic by typing in the following:

  1. echo "Hello, World" | ~/kafka/bin/kafka-console-producer.sh --broker-list localhost:9092 --topic TutorialTopic > /dev/null

As the topic doesn’t exist, Kafka will create it automatically.

To consume messages, you can create a Kafka consumer using the kafka-console-consumer.sh script. It expects the ZooKeeper server’s hostname and port, along with a topic name as its arguments.

The following command consumes messages from the topic we published to. Note the use of the --from-beginning flag, which is present because we want to consume a message that was published before the consumer was started.

  1. ~/kafka/bin/kafka-console-consumer.sh --zookeeper localhost:2181 --topic TutorialTopic --from-beginning

If there are no configuration issues, you should see Hello, World in the output now.

The script will continue to run, waiting for more messages to be published to the topic. Feel free to open a new terminal and start a producer to publish a few more messages. You should be able to see them all in the consumer’s output instantly.

When you are done testing, press CTRL+C to stop the consumer script.

Step 8 — Install KafkaT (Optional)

KafkaT is a handy little tool from Airbnb which makes it easier for you to view details about your Kafka cluster and also perform a few administrative tasks from the command line. As it is a Ruby gem, you will need Ruby to use it. You will also need the build-essential package to be able to build the other gems it depends on. Install them using apt-get:

  1. sudo apt-get install ruby ruby-dev build-essential

You can now install KafkaT using the gem command:

  1. sudo gem install kafkat --source https://rubygems.org --no-ri --no-rdoc

Use vi to create a new file called .kafkatcfg.

  1. vi ~/.kafkatcfg

This is a configuration file which KafkaT uses to determine the installation and log directories of your Kafka server. It should also point KafkaT to your ZooKeeper instance. Accordingly, add the following lines to it:

  "kafka_path": "~/kafka",
  "log_path": "/tmp/kafka-logs",
  "zk_path": "localhost:2181"

You are now ready to use KafkaT. For a start, here’s how you would use it to view details about all Kafka partitions:

  1. kafkat partitions

You should see the following output:

output of kafkat partitions
Topic		    Partition	Leader		Replicas		ISRs	
TutorialTopic	0		      0		      [0]			[0]

To learn more about KafkaT, refer to its GitHub repository.

Step 9 — Set Up a Multi-Node Cluster (Optional)

If you want to create a multi-broker cluster using more Ubuntu 14.04 machines, you should repeat Step 1, Step 3, Step 4 and Step 5 on each of the new machines. Additionally, you should make the following changes in the server.properties file in each of them:

  • the value of the broker.id property should be changed such that it is unique throughout the cluster
  • the value of the zookeeper.connect property should be changed such that all nodes point to the same ZooKeeper instance

If you want to have multiple ZooKeeper instances for your cluster, the value of the zookeeper.connect property on each node should be an identical, comma-separated string listing the IP addresses and port numbers of all the ZooKeeper instances.

Step 10 — Restrict the Kafka User

Now that all installations are done, you can remove the kafka user’s admin privileges. Before you do so, log out and log back in as any other non-root sudo user. If you are still running the same shell session you started this tutorial with, simply type exit.

To remove the kafka user’s admin privileges, remove it from the sudo group.

  1. sudo deluser kafka sudo

To further improve your Kafka server’s security, lock the kafka user’s password using the passwd command. This makes sure that nobody can directly log into it.

  1. sudo passwd kafka -l

At this point, only root or a sudo user can log in as kafka by typing in the following command:

  1. sudo su - kafka

In the future, if you want to unlock it, use passwd with the -u option:

  1. sudo passwd kafka -u


You now have a secure Apache Kafka running on your Ubuntu server. You can easily make use of it in your projects by creating Kafka producers and consumers using Kafka clients which are available for most programming languages. To learn more about Kafka, do go through its documentation.

Thanks for learning with the DigitalOcean Community. Check out our offerings for compute, storage, networking, and managed databases.

Learn more about our products

About the authors
Default avatar
Hathy A


Default avatar
Tammy Fox


Still looking for an answer?

Ask a questionSearch for more help

Was this helpful?

This textbox defaults to using Markdown to format your answer.

You can type !ref in this text area to quickly search our full set of tutorials, documentation & marketplace offerings and insert the link!

Thank you ! By following this article i was able to configure KAFKA but with slightly modification. a. In step 2 install the latest version of jre by typing the following commands else it will cause error in future. sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/java sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install oracle-java8-installer b.In step 4 the mirror link is now obsolete , the new link is wget “http://mirror.cc.columbia.edu/pub/software/apache/kafka/1.0.1/kafka_2.12-1.0.1.tgz” -O ~/Downloads/kafka.tgz

After Running

nohup ~/kafka/bin/kafka-server-start.sh ~/kafka/config/server.properties > ~/kafka/kafka.log 2>&1 &

I am seeing following error in kafka.log file:

nohup: ignoring input Classpath is empty. Please build the project first e.g. by running ‘./gradlew jar -PscalaVersion=2.11.12’

Please someone help me.


Trying kafka for the first time… never found any tutorial as simple and clear as this one… every command worked at first go.

Why are you downloading zookeeper separately? Kafka includes zookeeper.

For zookeeper: apt-get is not working. I followed this link and its working. Kafka Installation without apt-get Basically, I did manually whatever apt-get does and creates folders on its default location. Later I found a good link with the same apt-get zookeeperd approach. I am sharing in case if anyone has a difficulty to install zookeeper/kafka. Reference Link to create a cluster env of Zookeeper/kafka

Thanks for the tutorial. I need to change the log.dirs to some new directory. But if I shutdown the kafka server and change the config and then start the server again, I get error

[2016-06-08 18:24:45,206] FATAL Fatal error during KafkaServerStartable startup. Prepare to shutdown (kafka.server.KafkaServerStartable) java.lang.StringIndexOutOfBoundsException: String index out of range: -1 at java.lang.String.substring(String.java:1911) at kafka.log.Log$.parseTopicPartitionName(Log.scala:833) at kafka.log.LogManager$$anonfun$loadLogs$2$$anonfun$3$$anonfun$apply$7$$anonfun$apply$1.apply$mcV$sp(LogManager.scala:138) at kafka.utils.Utils$$anon$1.run(Utils.scala:54) at java.util.concurrent.Executors$RunnableAdapter.call(Executors.java:471) at java.util.concurrent.FutureTask.run(FutureTask.java:262) at java.util.concurrent.ThreadPoolExecutor.runWorker(ThreadPoolExecutor.java:1145) at java.util.concurrent.ThreadPoolExecutor$Worker.run(ThreadPoolExecutor.java:615) at java.lang.Thread.run(Thread.java:745) [2016-06-08 18:24:45,208] INFO [Kafka Server 0], shutting down (kafka.server.KafkaServer)

Excellent step-by-step tutorial. Everything was working fine for me until I restarted Linux. After the restart, I get the following error when I submit the kafka-console-consumer.sh

$ ~/kafka/bin/kafka-console-consumer.sh --zookeeper localhost:2181 --topic TutorialTopic --from-beginning [2016-02-04 03:16:54,944] WARN [console-consumer-6966_bob-kafka-storm-1454577414492-8728ae43], no brokers found when trying to rebalance. (kafka.consumer.ZookeeperConsumerConnector)

Before I ran the kafka-console-consumer.sh, I did run the producer script in another window.

I can fix the error by restarting Kafka; but, I would rather that Kafka start automatically at startup.

Do you have any ideas on what might be causing this?

Thank you so much for such a clear and precise tutorial. It has helped me greately. Can you please write another article on usage example of kafka.

Try DigitalOcean for free

Click below to sign up and get $200 of credit to try our products over 60 days!

Sign up

Join the Tech Talk
Success! Thank you! Please check your email for further details.

Please complete your information!

Featured on Community

Get our biweekly newsletter

Sign up for Infrastructure as a Newsletter.

Hollie's Hub for Good

Working on improving health and education, reducing inequality, and spurring economic growth? We'd like to help.

Become a contributor

Get paid to write technical tutorials and select a tech-focused charity to receive a matching donation.

Welcome to the developer cloud

DigitalOcean makes it simple to launch in the cloud and scale up as you grow — whether you're running one virtual machine or ten thousand.

Learn more
DigitalOcean Cloud Control Panel