Discussion Thread

AIRFLOW-5029 - Getting issue details... STATUS


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In Release1.10.10

NOTE! Updated version of that architecture is kept in


We have recently started to experience a lot of problems with TravisCI. They are documented in . and in but summarising it:


  • We considered cost of running the builds
  • The system has to be easy to integrate with GitHub including passing status of the build back to GitHub
  • The system should be self-maintainable - with as little special Development/Ops maintenance needed.
  • Keeping old Travis CI builds working (being able to run builds from own Travis CI forks as needed).

 What change do you propose to make?

GithHub Actions:

The architecture of the proposed solutions is shown here (note that the image and below desription has been updated on July 4, 2021 to reflect the latest changes after switching to , Github Container Registry

The following components are part of the CI infrastructure

  • Apache Airflow Code Repository - our code repository at
  • Apache Airflow Forks - forks of the Apache Airflow Code Repository from which contributors make Pull Requests
  • GitHub Actions -  (GA) UI + execution engine for our jobs
  • GA CRON trigger - GitHub Actions CRON triggering our jobs
  • GA Workers - virtual machines running our jobs at GitHub Actions (max 20 in parallel)
  • GitHub Container Registry  - image registry used as build cache for CI  jobs. It is at
  • DockerHub Image Registry  - image registry used to pull base Python Images and to keep the official Released Images of Airflow
  • Official Images (future) - these are official images that are prominently visible in DockerHub. We aim our images to become official images so that you will be able to pull them with `docker pull apache-airflow`

CI run categories

The following CI Job runs are currently run for Apache Airflow, and each of the runs have different purpose and context.

- Pull Request Run - Those runs are results of PR from the forks made by contributors. Most builds for Apache Airflow fall into this category. They are executed in the context of the "Fork", not main Airflow Code Repository which means that they have only "read" permission to all the GitHub resources (container registry, code repository). This is necessary as the code in those PRs (including CI job definition) might be modified by people who are not committers for the Apache Airflow Code Repository. The main purpose of those jobs is to check if PR builds cleanly, if the test run properly and if the PR is ready to review and merge. The runs are using cached images from the GitHub Container registry - CI, Production Images as well as base Python images that are also cached in the GitHub Container registry.

- Direct Push/Merge Run - Those runs are results of direct pushes done by the committers or as result of merge of a Pull Request by the committers. Those runs execute in the context of the Apache Airflow Code Repository and have also write permission for GitHub resources  (container registry, code repository). The main purpose for the run is to check if the code after merge still holds all the assertions - like whether it still builds, all tests are green. This is needed because some of the conflicting changes from multiple PRs might cause build and test failures after merge even if they do not fail in isolation. Also those runs are already reviewed and confirmed by the committers so they can be used to do some housekeeping - they are pushing most recent image built in the PR to the Github Container Registry - which is our image cache for all the builds. Another purpose of those runs is to refresh latest Python base images. Python base images are refreshed with varying frequency (once every few months usually but sometimes several times per week) with the latest security and bug fixes. Those patch level images releases can occasionally break Airflow builds (specifically Docker image builds based on those images) therefore in PRs we always use latest "good" python image that we store in the private GitHub cache.

The direct push/master builds check DockerHub to see if there are newer python images, therefore they will try the latest images after they are released and in case they are fine, CI Docker image is build and tests are passing - those jobs will push the base images to the  GitHub Container Registry so that they be used by subsequent PR runs.

- Scheduled Run - those runs are results of (nightly) triggered job - only for main branch. The main purpose of the job is to check if there was no impact of external dependency changes on the Apache Airflow code (for example transitive dependencies released that fail the build). It also checks if the Docker images can be build from the scratch (again - to see if some dependencies have not changed - for example downloaded package releases etc).

Note that unlike in previous architecture, we do not build/push images directly to DockerHub. Main reason for that is that we switched to for cache completely, and autobuild feature of DockerHub has been disabled due to abuse: 

The details about jobs and current state of the CI can be found in

Former GitLab proposal

This is an old version of proposal that chose GitLabCI - but it turned out to be not workable because they lacked the capability of running builds from a fork. it took them 8 months to discuss it and they have not rolled it out yet. 

The proposal is to migrate to GitLabCI (Cloud version) running the jobs in GKE auto-scaling Kubernetes cluster.

The architecture of the proposed solution is shown here:

The steps executed during the build:

1) Code committed to Github, PR created (already done today)

2) Code from master commits is used to build latest "master" image (already done today)

3) GitHub repo is mirrored to instance

4) GitLab CI uses Kubernetes Executor to run the jobs on GKE Kubernetes cluster

5) Each job has its own dind (Docker-In-Docker) engine

6) The dind (Docker-In-Docker) engine is used to build latest Docker images including latest sources (incrementally, using master image from DockerHub as base)

7) The dind (Docker-In-Docker) engine is used to execute the tests 

8) Kind (Kubernetes-in-Docker) is used to run Kubernetes tests

9) GitLab reports build status back to GitHub.

Since GitHub released it's GitHub Actions we decided finally to move to GitHub Actions. It is well in progress and it simplifies the setup a lot.

What problem does it solve?

  • Instability and speed of current Travis CI
  • Lack of control we have over resources used in Travis CI (queueing and machine size)
  • Being able to run bigger matrix of builds

Why is it needed?

  • We need stable and fast CI as it is an integral part of our workflow

Are there any downsides to this change?

  • Not really apart everyone switching to different UI 

Which users are affected by the change?

  • All contributors to Apache Airflow

How are users affected by the change? (e.g. DB upgrade required?)

  • They need to learn new CI UI

Other considerations?

  • We still need to work out a way to run the traffic for "external services - AIP-4 - kind of tests"

What defines this AIP as "done"?

  • We run the tests for several days using GitHub Actions