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08 Apr 2015
Quick and Dirty Django Deployment

Click here to watch the video on Youtube


This tutorial is meant to take you through the bare minimum number of steps to set up your own Django production server.

This means skipping over steps that deal with safety, security, and general production-readiness.

After you follow this tutorial, you will have to start over with a clean Linux install and follow other tutorials to set up your server in a secure and optimized way.

Step 0. Install Debian 7 on your server and power it on.

Step 1. Log into your server and install Apache 2.

  1. (On your personal computer) Log into your new server as root over SSH (Secure Shell Connection). XX.XX.XX.XX is the IP address of your server. Type in the root password when prompted.

    ssh root@XX.XX.XX.XX
  2. Update and upgrade all Debian packages (necessary even for a quick-and-dirty install). This might take a few minutes.

    apt-get update
    apt-get upgrade
  3. Install the Apache 2 server.

    apt-get install apache2

    At this point, you can visit your site’s IP address in your browser and see the default Apache installation page:

    Apache2 "It Works!" page

    This means that Apache has been installed successfully. If you don’t see anything, check the error log to see what the problem is (and if you can fix it) using this command:

    tail -f /var/log/apache2/error.log

Step 2. Install Mod-WSGI for Python3 and run a simple app.

  1. Install Mod-WSGI for Apache 2 (this will install Python 3 and restart Apache automatically).

    apt-get install libapache2-mod-wsgi-py3
  2. Create a new sample WSGI application in /var/www/wsgi-scripts/myapp.wsgi.

    cd /var/www
    mkdir wsgi-scripts
    cd wsgi-scripts
    nano myapp.wsgi

    Paste the following into myapp.wsgi:

    def application(environ, start_response):
        status = '200 OK'
        output = 'Hello World!'
        response_headers = [('Content-type', 'text/plain'),
                            ('Content-Length', str(len(output)))]
        start_response(status, response_headers)
        return [output]

    Press Ctrl+X to exit nano (make sure to hit Y to save changes).

  3. Open the default VirtualHost configuration file for editing and scroll all the way down.

    nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/default

    To make our sample script work, we need to set up a script alias, a new daemon process, and a directory directive. Place them at the bottom of the default configuration file, right before the </VirtualHost> closing tag. Replace [sitename].com with your own site name.

    WSGIScriptAlias / /var/www/wsgi-scripts/myapp.wsgi
    WSGIDaemonProcess processes=2 threads=15
    <Directory /var/www/wsgi-scripts>
        Order allow,deny
        Allow from all

    Exit nano and save your changes using Ctrl+X.

  4. Restart the Apache server to apply the changes.

    service apache2 restart

    You can now access your server through your browser using its IP address. If WSGI was installed correctly, you’ll see “Hello World”. If not, check the error log.

  5. To make sure the WSGI daemon process works, edit the myapp.wsgi file and replace “Hello World” with some other string, like “Hello Universe”:

    nano /var/www/wsgi-scripts/myapp.wsgi

    If the daemon process is working correctly, you should be able to refresh the site and see the new string - without restarting your Apache server.

Step 3. Install MySQL and duplicate your development database.

  1. (On your personal computer) Open a new Terminal window and work with your personal computer for a minute. Start your MySQL server. On a Mac, you can use the following command:

    mysql.server start
  2. (On your personal computer) You’re going to make a “dump” of your development database. Here, [user] is the user you used during the development of your Django app and [dbname] is the name of the database you used. You will be prompted to enter the password for that user

    mysqldump -u [user] -p [dbname] > ~/dbdump.sql
  3. (On your personal computer) Copy the database dump onto the Linux server using scp (Secure Copy). Once again, replace XX.XX.XX.XX with your server’s IP address.

    scp ~/dbdump.sql root@XX.XX.XX.XX:~/
  4. (Back to using SSH with the remote server) Now go back to the window with the SSH connection to your server. Make sure the database dump file is now on your server.

    cd ~

    You should see the dbdump.sql file in the output.

  5. Install MySQL on your server.

    apt-get install mysql-server libmysqlclient-dev

    Create a password for your root user when you’re prompted.

  6. Enter the MySQL client interactive prompt.

    mysql -u root -p

    Inside the MySQL client, create a blank copy of your development database with your development user. Be sure to use the exact same database name, username, and password as your development user.

    CREATE DATABASE [dbname];
    CREATE USER '[user]'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY '[password]';
    GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON [dbname].* TO '[user]'@'localhost' WITH GRANT OPTION;
  7. Restore the development database from the dump.

    mysql -u [user] -p [dbname] < ~/dbdump.sql
  8. To make sure the restoration went OK, re-enter the interactive prompt.

    mysql -u [user] -p

    Run the following commands to browse through the MySQL databases and tables.

    USE [dbname];
    SELECT * FROM [tablename];

    You should now have an exact copy of your development database set up on your server.

Step 4. Run Your Django Application On Your Server.

  1. (On your personal computer) Make and apply any necessary migrations, collect all static files, and test that the development server works.

    cd [path/to/django]
    python3 makemigrations
    python3 syncdb
    python3 collectstatic
    python3 runserver
  2. (On your personal computer) Use pip to make a list of pip dependencies inside your site’s root

    cd [path/to/site]
    pip3 freeze > pip_dependencies.txt
  3. (On your personal computer) Use rsync to transfer all site files (including static files and the Pip dependencies file) from your computer to the server. This might take a while.

    rsync -au [/path/to/site/]* root@XX.XX.XX.XX:/var/www/[]
  4. (Back to using SSH with the remote server) The Django files are now on your server, but none of the required Pip packages (including Django itself) are installed. Install Pip and then use Pip to install them using the dependency list you generated earlier.

    apt-get install python3-pip
    cd /var/www/[]
    pip-3.2 install -r pip_dependencies.txt
  5. Make sure Django and all packages were installed correctly by running the Django development server on your Linux server. You have to stop the Apache server first.

    service apache2 stop
    cd /var/www/[]/[projectname]
    python3 runserver

    At this point, you should be able to access your server through its IP address in your browser window and see your Django app (in debug mode).

  6. Now it’s time to turn debug mode off. Open the Django file on your server.

    cd /var/www/[sitename].com/[projectname]/[projectname]

    Edit the following settings:

    DEBUG = False
    ALLOWED_HOSTS = ['*']

    Also make sure the static files are still being served in the same way when debug mode is turned off.

  7. Run the Django development server with debug mode turned off.

    cd /var/www/[sitename].com/[projectname]
    python3 runserver --insecure

    At this point, the Django app should still be accessible through your server’s IP address, but now debug mode is turned off.

Step 5. Link everything together using Mod-WSGI.

  1. Open your project’s file.

    cd /var/www/[]/[projectname]/[projectname]

    Add the following lines in the beginning of your file:

    import sys

    Running python3 now shouldn’t produce any errors.

  2. Go back to editing your Apache2 default configuration file.

    nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/default

    Edit the WSGI settings we created above to point to your project’s file.

    WSGIScriptAlias / /var/www/[]/[projectname]/[projectname]/
    WSGIDaemonProcess processes=2 threads=15
    <Directory /var/www/[]/[projectname]/[projectname]>
            Order allow,deny
            Allow from all
  3. In the same default config file, add a directory directive to serve static scripts.

    Alias /static /var/www/[]/static
    <Directory /var/www/[]/static>
        Require all granted
  4. Start the Apache 2 server again, keeping an eye on the error log.

    service apache2 start

    Your Django app served through your Apache server should now be available through your server’s IP address. If there are any problems, look at the error log using tail -f /var/log/apache2/error.log.


Your Django app is now accessible through your server. Now that you know how to do it the quick and dirty way, start over with a fresh Debian install and follow these tutorials to do it the right way:

Please give me feedback!

Did you like this tutorial? Do you think anything I suggested is horribly wrong? Leave a comment below and let me know!

- Aram


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