Deploying Django with Mercurial, Fab and Nginx

April 26, 2009 at 11:00 am (python) (, , , , )

Writing web apps with Django can be a lot of fun, but deploying them can be a chore, even if you’re using Apache. Here’s a setup I’ve been using that makes deployment fast and easy. This all assumes you’ve got sudo access on a remote server running Ubuntu or something similar.

Mercurial

This setup assumes you’ve got 2 mercurial repositories: 1 on your local machine, and 1 on the remote server you’re deploying to. In the remote repository, add the following to .hg/hgrc

[hooks]
changegroup = hg up

This makes mercurial run hg up whenever you push new code. Then in your local repo’s .hg/hgrc, make sure the default path is to your remote repo. Here’s an example

[paths]
default = ssh://user@domain.com/repo

Now when you run hg push, you don’t need to include the path to the repo, and your code will be updated immediately.

FastCGI

Since I’m using nginx instead of Apache, we’ll be deploying Django with FastCGI. Here’s an example script you can use to start and restart your Django FastCGI server. Add this script to your mercurial repo as run_fcgi.sh.

#!/bin/bash
PIDFILE="/tmp/django.pid"
SOCKET="/tmp/django.sock"

# kill current fcgi process if it exists
if [ -f $PIDFILE ]; then
    kill `cat -- $PIDFILE`
    rm -f -- $PIDFILE
fi

python manage.py runfcgi socket=$SOCKET pidfile=$PIDFILE method=prefork

Important note: the FastCGI socket file will need to be readable & writable by nginx worker processes, which run as the www-data user in Ubuntu. This will be handled by the fab restart command below, or you could add chmod a+w $SOCKET to the end of the above script.

Nginx

Nginx is a great high performance web server with simple configuration. Here’s a simple example server config for proxying to your Django FastCGI process. Add this config to your mercurial repo as django.nginx.

server {
    listen 80;
    # change to your FQDN
    server_name YOUR.DOMAIN.COM;

    location / {
        # must be the same socket file as in the above fcgi script
        fastcgi_pass unix:/tmp/django.sock;
    }
}

On the remote server, make sure the following lines are in the http section of /etc/nginx/nginx.conf

include /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/*;
# fastcgi_params should contain a lot of fastcgi_param variables
include /etc/nginx/fastcgi_params;

You must also make sure there is a link in /etc/nginx/sites-enabled to your django.nginx config. Don’t worry if django.nginx doesn’t exist yet, it will once you run fab nginx the first time.

you@remote.ubuntu$ cd /etc/nginx/sites-enabled
you@remote.ubuntu$ sudo ln -s ../sites-available/django.nginx django.nginx

Fab

Fab, or properly Fabric, is my favorite new tool. It’s designed specifically for making remote deployment simple and easy. You create a fabfile where each function is a fab command that can run remote and sudo commands on one or more remote hosts. So let’s deploy Django using fab. Here’s an example fabfile with 2 commands: restart and nginx. These commands should only be run after you’ve done a hg push.

config.fab_hosts = ['YOUR.DOMAIN.COM']
config.projdir = '/PATH/TO/YOUR/REMOTE/HG/REPO'

def restart():
    sudo('cd %(projdir)s; run_fcgi.sh', user='www-data', fail='abort')

def nginx():
    sudo('cp %(projdir)s/django.nginx /etc/nginx/sites-available/', fail='abort')
    sudo('killall -HUP nginx', fail='abort')

restart

You only need to run fab restart if you’ve changed the actual python code. Changes to templates or static files don’t require a restart and will be used automatically (because of the hg up changegroup hook). Executing run_fcgi.sh as the www-data user ensures that nginx can read & write the socket.

nginx

If you’ve changed your nginx server config, you can run fab nginx to install and reload the new server config without restarting the nginx server.

Wrap Up

Now that everything is setup, the next time you want to deploy some new code, it’s as simple as hg push && fab restart. And if you’ve only changed templates, all you need to do is hg push. I hope this helps make your Django development life easier. It has certainly done so for me 🙂

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