Linode Library Home
Linode Library RSS Feed
Home :: Frameworks :: Django mod_python
Print View View Source

Django, Apache and mod_python on Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid)

Published: by

Warning

This document is an older, unmaintained guide. There may be a new guide available for this software.

Django is a web development framework for the Python programing language. It enables rapid development, while favoring pragmatic and clean design. Django was initially developed for use in a newspaper's website division, and as a result the Django framework is very well suited to developing content-centric applications. It's also very flexible in its ability to facilitate many complex content management operations.

This guide provides an introduction to getting started with the Django framework. You will be installing Django and related packages from the Ubuntu repository, and deploying applications with mod_python and the Apache web server. This setup is generally accepted as a good platform for getting started with Django, although the framework is quite flexible with regards to how applications can be deployed. There are many base platforms that you may consider in the future as your needs grow and change.

We assume that you've completed the getting started guide and have a running and up to date Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid) system. Furthermore, you will want to have a running Apache web server and a functional MySQL database installed.

Contents

Set the Hostname

Before you begin installing and configuring the components described in this guide, please make sure you've followed our instructions for setting your hostname. Issue the following commands to make sure it is set properly:

hostname
hostname -f

The first command should show your short hostname, and the second should show your fully qualified domain name (FQDN).

Prepare System for Django

Issue the following commands to refresh your system's package database and make sure that all installed packages are up to date:

apt-get update
apt-get upgrade

Installing Python Dependencies

There are a number of packages that you need to install before you can deploy a Django application. The following command will download and install all of these dependencies:

apt-get install libapache2-mod-python python-mysqldb python-django

This installs mod_python, which embeds a Python interpreter in the Apache web server (libapache2-mod-python), as well as MySQL database bindings for Python and version 1.02 of the Django web framework.

You may also want to install the following libraries and tools with apt:

Any of these tools can be installed with "apt-get install" followed by the package or packages listed above. There are many additional Python-related packages in the operating system repositories. You can search the package database using the "apt-cache search python" command. If you need more information about a package, use the "apt-cache show [package-name]" command.

Configuring Apache

With all of the dependencies installed, you must configure Apache for virtual hosting. You will want to insert a Location block inside of the virtual hosting block for the domain where you want the Django application to run. The location block looks like this:

File excerpt:Apache Virtual Host Configuration

<Location "/">
    SetHandler python-program
    PythonHandler django.core.handlers.modpython
    SetEnv DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE settings
    PythonDebug Off
</Location>

You may need to change the settings to correspond to the settings file for your application in the Python path. The Python path is specific to the instance and version of Python that you're using and can be modified in your Python settings. If you want to store your Django application in another location, you'll need to specify a PythonPath variable in the Location block above by adding the following line:

File excerpt:Apache Virtual Host Configuration

PythonPath "['/srv/www/brackley.net/application'] + sys.path"

This line will allow mod_python to look for your settings file in the /srv/www/brackley.net/application directory, for an application in the "brackley.net" virtual host entry.

The Location block tells Apache what to do when a request comes in for a given URL location. For instance, if the above block is located in the VirtualHost entry for the ducklington.org domain, then all requests for the URL http://ducklington.org/ would be directed to the Django application. Consider the following complete virtual host configuration.

File excerpt:Apache Virtual Host Configuration

<VirtualHost ducklington.org:80>
    ServerName ducklington.org
    ServerAdmin squire@ducklington.org
    DocumentRoot /srv/www/ducklington.org/public_html

    PythonPath "['/srv/www/ducklington.org/application'] + sys.path"
    <Location "/">
        SetHandler python-program
        PythonHandler django.core.handlers.modpython
        SetEnv DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE settings
        PythonDebug Off
    </Location>

    ErrorLog /srv/logs/error.log
    CustomLog /srv/logs/access.log combined
</VirtualHost>

Given this configuration the DocumentRoot is optional, but we recommend that you keep this directive in your configuration.

Hosting Static Content

If you wanted to have a static page located at the root of the domain and only use Django to power a blog at the URL http://ducklington.org/blog/, the above block would begin with <Location "/blog">. In this situation, you would need to set up a DocumentRoot to contain the files for the static portion of the site.

Typically, Django applications use a secondary "media" web server to more efficiently serve static content like images, video, audio, and even static text resources. This permits more effective scaling possibilities. If you need to turn off Django and mod_python for a particular URL, add a second location block, like so:

File excerpt:Apache Virtual Host Configuration

<Location "/files/">
    SetHandler None
</Location>

In the above example, this would allow any static content requested with the URL http://ducklington.org/files/ to be served without Django interference from the location specified in the DocumentRoot. An alternate, and potentially easier solution, would use a second VirtualHost for all non-Python content.

Hosting Multiple Django Applications

The easiest way to host multiple Django applications with one instance of Apache is to place each application in its own virtual host. If, however, you need to host more than one application within a single VirtualHost entry you'll need to specify different locations in Location blocks within that VirtualHost entry. Here are two example location blocks that would be inserted in your VirtualHost entry:

File excerpt:Apache Virtual Host Configuration

<Location "/lollipop">
SetHandler python-program
PythonHandler django.core.handlers.modpython
SetEnv DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE lollipop.site.settings
PythonDebug Off
PythonInterpreter lollipop
</Location>

<Location "/funnyjoke">
SetHandler python-program
    PythonHandler django.core.handlers.modpython
SetEnv DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE funnyjoke.site.settings
PythonDebug Off
PythonInterpreter funnyjoke
</Location>

Note that the PythonInterpreter option needs to be set in these situations to avoid confusing mod_python, and your applications must be configured to properly handle these requests.

Using Django

Once you have the base system installed and mod_python configured properly with Django, the majority of your time can be spent developing your application. There are, however, a few concerns you should be aware of.

Because of the way that mod_python works, it's necessary to restart the web server whenever you update, change, or modify your Django application. This is because of the way that mod_python caches code. To restart Apache, issue the following command:

/etc/init.d/apache2 restart

As the site and your Django application begin receiving additional traffic, there are a number of steps you can take to scale your infrastructure with Django to increase performance. Some of these approaches are fairly simple and straightforward, while others may take much longer.

The first step is to separate services onto different servers. If you're having performance issues, move the database (e.g. MySQL or PostgreSQL) onto its own server or even a cluster of database servers. We alluded to this earlier with regard to static files, but it's often easier and more efficient to use a separate high-performance web server like nginx or lighttpd for static content. Such a server may also run on a separate VPS, isolated from the Apache instance running the Django application. Advanced solutions including front end reverse proxies like Squid, or hosting duplicate copies of your application servers and using a round-robin DNS setup, can offer you a great deal of scalability for high-demand situations.

More Information

You may wish to consult the following resources for additional information on this topic. While these are provided in the hope that they will be useful, please note that we cannot vouch for the accuracy or timeliness of externally hosted materials.

Creative Commons License

This guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Last edited by Sharon Campbell on Friday, September 27th, 2013 (r3720).