How to Deploy a Django Project

In the Django Tutorial for Beginners, we talked about how to deploy a Django project using a server management panel called aaPanel. But since its “Python Manager” is still under development, sometimes it doesn’t work.

In this article, we’ll talk about how to deploy a Django project manually on a Linux server using uWSGI and Nginx. I’ll use Ubuntu as an example.

Preparing your server

First of all, you need to get a server from a VPS provider such as Digital Ocean, Vultr, and Linode. If you want, you can use this link to claim $100 from Vultr to get you started.

Next, you must make sure that your server is secure by disabling the root user and enabling SSH key sign in. You can find a complete guide on how to do that in this article.

Lastly, make sure your software is up to date by running the following commands.

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sudo apt update
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sudo apt upgrade

Clone your project using Git

After you’ve set up the server, you’ll need to transfer the Django project on to the server. Git is an ideal tool for this purpose. Git is an open-source version control software that can track the changes in the source code. It is designed for coordinating work among programmers.

Git should be preinstalled on your system by default, but just in case it is not there, you can install it using the following command:

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sudo apt install git

And then, go to the home directory, and clone our project from GitHub onto the server.

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cd ~
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git clone https://github.com/ericsdevblog/django-tutorial.git

This command will create a django-tutorial directory and put our project in it. Here is a small Linux trick, you can check the content of a directory using the following command:

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ls

If you need to list the hidden items as well:

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ls -a

Next time, when you make changes to our project, instead of uploading the entire project again, you only need to run the git pull command.

Create virtual environment & install requirements

Now that you have cloned your Django project, you need to create an isolated virtual Python environment for it. However, on Debian based systems, the venv package, which you’ll need to create a virtual environment, is not included by default, but you can install it using the following command:

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sudo apt install python3.10-venv

Go to the application’s root directory:

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cd <path_to_root_directory>

Create a virtual environment:

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python3 -m venv env

Run the ls command again, and you should see an env directory. The virtual environment is created inside. Now, all you need to do is activate the environment and install all the necessary requirements for this project.

Remember, if you install required packages without activating the virtual environment, the packages will be installed globally, instead of in the virtual environment we just created, which is isolated for our Django project.

Activate the virtual environment:

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source env/bin/activate

If the activation is successful, your terminal prompt should look like this. (env) means you are currently working inside a virtual environment called env.

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(env) eric@djangoDeployDemo:~/django-tutorial/djangoTutorial$

You can also deactivate virtual environment using the following command:

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deactivate

Install requirements:

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pip install -r requirements.txt

Install uWSGI

uWSGI is a software application that “aims at developing a full stack for building hosting services”. It is named after the Web Server Gateway Interface (WSGI), which was the first plugin supported by the project.

uWSGI is often used for serving Python web applications in conjunction with web servers such as Cherokee and Nginx, which offer direct support for uWSGI’s native uWSGI protocol.

Before you can install uWSGI, you need to first install the Python development package.

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sudo yum groupinstall "Development Tools"
sudo yum install python-devel

Next, install the latest stable version of uWSGI:

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pip install uwsgi

Test Your Django Project

Now, we can test our Django project with uWSGI. First, make sure our site actually works:

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python manage.py runserver 0.0.0.0:8000

And if that works, run it using uWSGI:

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uwsgi --http :8000 --module django_blog.wsgi

module mysite.wsgi: load the specified wsgi module.

Point your browser at the server, if the site appears, it means uWSGI is able to serve your Django application from your virtualenv, and this stack operates correctly:

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the web client <-> uWSGI <-> Django

Now, normally we won’t have the browser speaking directly to uWSGI. That’s a job for the webserver, which will act as a go-between.

Install Nginx

Nginx is an open-source high-performance web server. Compared to Apache, it is much more flexible and lightweight.

First, we need to add the Nginx repository:

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sudo yum install epel-release

Install Nginx using yum command:

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sudo yum install nginx

After this, we can start the Nginx server by typing:

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sudo systemctl start nginx

Now we need to check if the Nginx server is working properly by visiting it in a web browser on port 80. You should get a message from Nginx: “Welcome to Nginx!”. If not, it is probably because something else is running on port 80, and you need to reconfigure Nginx to serve on a different port. For this tutorial, we’ll use port 8000.

Configure Nginx for Your Site

To configure Nginx to work for our Django site, we need to use the uwsgi_params file, which is available in the nginx directory of the uWSGI distribution, or from GitHub.

We need to copy this file to the Django project directory, and later we’ll need to tell Nginx to refer to it.

Now create a file called django_blog_nginx.conf in the /etc/nginx/sites-available/ directory, and put this in it:

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# django_blog_nginx.conf

# the upstream component nginx needs to connect to

upstream django {
    # server unix:///path/to/your/mysite/mysite.sock; # for a file socket
    server 127.0.0.1:8001; # for a web port socket (we'll use this first)
}

# configuration of the server

server {
    # the port your site will be served on
    listen      8000;
    # the domain name it will serve for
    server_name example.com; # substitute your machine's IP address or FQDN
    charset     utf-8;

    # max upload size
    client_max_body_size 75M;   # adjust to taste

    # Django media
    location /media  {
        alias /path/to/your/mysite/media;  # your Django project's media files - amend as required
    }

    location /static {
        alias /path/to/your/mysite/static; # your Django project's static files - amend as required
    }

    # Finally, send all non-media requests to the Django server.
    location / {
        uwsgi_pass  django;
        include     /path/to/your/mysite/uwsgi_params; # the uwsgi_params file you installed
    }

}

This configuration file tells Nginx to serve the site on port 8000. Nginx will handle the static file and media files, as well as requests that require Django’s intervention. For a large project, it is always better to let one server handel static/media files, and another handle Django applications. But for now, this is all we need to do.

Symlink to this file from /etc/nginx/sites-enabled so Nginx can see it:

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sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/django_blog_nginx.conf /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

Deploy Static Files

Before running Nginx, we have to collect all Django static files in the static folder. First of all, we have to edit Django_Blog/settings.py adding:

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STATIC_ROOT = os.path.join(BASE_DIR, "static/")

and then run

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python manage.py collectstatic

Test Nginx Server

Since we made changes to the Nginx server configuration, we need to restart the server so that these changes can take effect:

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sudo systemctl restart nginx

Upload a new image (media.png) to the /media directory, can then visit http://yourdomain.com:8000/media/media.png in the browser to see if Nginx is serving the media files correctly. If it doesn’t work, try stopping and starting the Nginx server again. This will inform you if there is a problem and where it is.

Run the Django Application with Nginx and uWSGI

Now that we have uWSGI and Nginx properly installed and configured, we can run out Django application with them:

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uwsgi --socket django_blog.sock --module django_blog.wsgi --chmod-socket=664

Configuring uWSGI to run with a .ini file

We can put the same options that we used with uWSGI into a file, and then ask uWSGI to run with that file. It makes it easier to manage configurations.

Create a file called django_blog_uwsgi.ini:

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# django_blog_uwsgi.ini file

[uwsgi]

# Django-related settings

# the base directory (full path)

chdir           = /path/to/your/project

# Django's wsgi file

module          = project.wsgi

# the virtualenv (full path)

home            = /path/to/virtualenv

# process-related settings

# master

master          = true

# maximum number of worker processes

processes       = 10

# the socket (use the full path to be safe

socket          = /path/to/your/project/mysite.sock

# ... with appropriate permissions - may be needed

# chmod-socket    = 664

# clear environment on exit

vacuum          = true

And run uwsgi using this file:

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uwsgi --ini mysite_uwsgi.ini # the --ini option is used to specify a file

Install uWSGI System-Wide

So far, uWSGI is only installed in our virtual environment, and we’ll need it installed system-wide for deployment purposes.

Deactivate your virtual environment:

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deactivate

and install uWSGI system-wide:

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sudo pip3 install uwsgi

The uWSGI wiki describes several installation procedures. Before installing uWSGI system-wide, it’s worth considering which version to choose and the most appropriate way of installing it.

Check again that we can still run uWSGI just like we did before:

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uwsgi --ini mysite_uwsgi.ini # the --ini option is used to specify a file
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