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Using lakeFS with Apache Iceberg

lakeFS provides its own implementation of the SparkCatalog, which handles the writing of the Iceberg data to lakeFS as well as reading from it and branching. Using straightforward table identifiers you can switch between branches when reading and writing data:

SELECT * FROM catalog.ref.db.table


Use the following Maven dependency to install the lakeFS custom catalog:


Include the lakefs-iceberg jar in your package list along with Iceberg. For example:

.config("spark.jars.packages", "org.apache.iceberg:iceberg-spark-runtime-3.3_2.12:1.3.0,io.lakefs:lakefs-iceberg:0.1.2")


  1. Set up the Spark SQL catalog:

     .config("spark.sql.catalog.lakefs", "org.apache.iceberg.spark.SparkCatalog") \
     .config("spark.sql.catalog.lakefs.catalog-impl", "io.lakefs.iceberg.LakeFSCatalog") \
     .config("spark.sql.catalog.lakefs.warehouse", f"lakefs://{repo_name}") \
  2. Optionally, you can set the lakeFS catalog to be the default one, which means that you don’t need to include the prefix when referencing tables.

     .config("spark.sql.defaultCatalog", "lakefs") \
  3. Configure the S3A Hadoop FileSystem for lakeFS.

     .config("spark.hadoop.fs.s3.impl", "org.apache.hadoop.fs.s3a.S3AFileSystem") \
     .config("spark.hadoop.fs.s3a.endpoint", lakefsEndPoint) \
     .config("spark.hadoop.fs.s3a.access.key", lakefsAccessKey) \
     .config("spark.hadoop.fs.s3a.secret.key", lakefsSecretKey) \
     .config("", "true") \

Iceberg and Catalog Metadata Caching

By default, Iceberg caches metadata entries. This can result in unexpected behaviour when working on the same table with different references (such as branches) as it doesn’t invalidate the cache. You can read more about this in more detail here.

For this reason it is recommended to disable the cache:

.config("spark.sql.catalog.lakefs.cache-enabled", "false") \

Using Iceberg tables with lakeFS

When referencing tables you need to ensure that they have a database specified (as you would anyway), and then a lakeFS reference prefix.

A reference is one of:

  • Branch
  • Tag
  • Expression (for example, main~17 means 17 commits before main)

If you have not set your default catalog then you need to include this as a prefix to the lakeFS reference.

Here are some examples:

  • The table db.table1 on the main branch of lakeFS:

      SELECT * FROM main.db.table1;
  • The table db.table1 on the dev branch of lakeFS:

      SELECT * FROM dev.db.table1;
  • The table db.table1 on the dev branch of lakeFS, configured through the Spark SQL catalog foo:

      SELECT * FROM;
  • One commit previous to the table db.table1 on the dev branch of lakeFS

      SELECT * FROM `dev~1`.db.table1;
  • Only committed data on the table db.table1 on the dev branch of lakeFS

      SELECT * FROM `dev@`.db.table1;

Migrating an existing Iceberg Table to lakeFS Catalog

This is done through an incremental copy from the original table into lakeFS.

  1. Create a new lakeFS repository lakectl repo create lakefs://example-repo <base storage path>
  2. Initiate a spark session that can interact with the source iceberg table and the target lakeFS catalog.

    Here’s an example of Hadoop and S3 session and lakeFS catalog with per-bucket config:

     SparkConf conf = new SparkConf();
     conf.set("", "true");
     // set hadoop on S3 config (source tables we want to copy) for spark
     conf.set("spark.sql.catalog.hadoop_prod", "org.apache.iceberg.spark.SparkCatalog");
     conf.set("spark.sql.catalog.hadoop_prod.type", "hadoop");
     conf.set("spark.sql.catalog.hadoop_prod.warehouse", "s3a://my-bucket/warehouse/hadoop/");
     conf.set("spark.sql.extensions", "org.apache.iceberg.spark.extensions.IcebergSparkSessionExtensions");
     conf.set("", "<AWS_ACCESS_KEY>");
     conf.set("", "<AWS_SECRET_KEY>");
     // set lakeFS config (target catalog and repository)
     conf.set("spark.sql.catalog.lakefs", "org.apache.iceberg.spark.SparkCatalog");
     conf.set("spark.sql.catalog.lakefs.catalog-impl", "io.lakefs.iceberg.LakeFSCatalog");
     conf.set("spark.sql.catalog.lakefs.warehouse", "lakefs://example-repo");
     conf.set("spark.sql.extensions", "org.apache.iceberg.spark.extensions.IcebergSparkSessionExtensions");
     conf.set("spark.hadoop.fs.s3a.bucket.example-repo.access.key", "<LAKEFS_ACCESS_KEY>");
     conf.set("spark.hadoop.fs.s3a.bucket.example-repo.secret.key", "<LAKEFS_SECRET_KEY>");
     conf.set("spark.hadoop.fs.s3a.bucket.example-repo.endpoint"  , "<LAKEFS_ENDPOINT>");
  3. Create Schema in lakeFS and copy the data

    Example of copy with spark-sql:

     -- Create Iceberg Schema in lakeFS
     CREATE SCHEMA IF NOT EXISTS <lakefs-catalog>.<branch>.<db>
     -- Create new iceberg table in lakeFS from the source table (pre-lakeFS)
     CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS <lakefs-catalog>.<branch>.<db> USING iceberg AS SELECT * FROM <iceberg-original-table>