Setup Django server with Apache virtual host and Python virtual environment

It took me a while to get everything works together, so I would like to document some of the steps and save you some time in the future.

First of all, assuming that you already have your CentOS / Ubuntu instance running and python already available. Then create a folder for your project with corresponding permission:

sudo mkdir /opt/yourpath/projects 
sudo chown $USER /opt/yourpath/projects

You may initiate the project as well if you haven’t already:

python -m pip install Django 
django-admin startproject APPNAME /opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME

Then the server can be run via command at port 8000 by default:

python manage.py runserver

To make your Django server ready for production, you may want to edit the setting.py with below settings:

DEBUG = False 
ALLOWED_HOSTS = ['*'] 
STATIC_URL = '/static/' 
STATIC_ROOT = os.path.join(BASE_DIR, 'static')

And you can build the static files with the command below:

python manage.py collectstatic --noinput

Secondly, serve your web application through the Apache web server. Assuming that you installed apache2 via yum / apt-get package manager, then enable virtual hosts for your project. Create the below file:

touch /opt/yourpath/apache2/conf/vhosts/project-vhost.conf

With content below:

<IfDefine !IS_APPNAME_LOADED>
Define IS_APPNAME_LOADED
WSGIDaemonProcess APPNAME python-home=/opt/yourpath/python python-path=/opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME
</IfDefine>
<VirtualHost 127.0.0.1:80 _default_:80>
ServerAlias *
WSGIProcessGroup APPNAME
Alias /robots.txt /opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME/static/robots.txt
Alias /favicon.ico /opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME/static/favicon.ico
Alias /static/ /opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME/static/
<Directory /opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME/static>
Require all granted
</Directory>
WSGIScriptAlias / /opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME/APPNAME/wsgi.py
<Directory /opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME/APPNAME>
<Files wsgi.py>
Require all granted
</Files>
</Directory>
</VirtualHost>

Remember to replace all the APPNAME above with your Django project name. Then also create one for https:

touch /opt/yourpath/apache2/conf/vhosts/project-https-vhost.conf

And replace all APPNAME with your project name with below content:

<IfDefine !IS_APPNAME_LOADED>
Define IS_APPNAME_LOADED
WSGIDaemonProcess APPNAME python-home=/opt/yourpath/python python-path=/opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME
</IfDefine>
<VirtualHost 127.0.0.1:80 _default_:80>
ServerAlias *
SSLEngine on
SSLCertificateFile "/opt/yourpath/apache2/conf/yourpath/certs/server.crt"
SSLCertificateKeyFile "/opt/yourpath/apache2/conf/yourpath/certs/server.key"
WSGIProcessGroup APPNAME
Alias /robots.txt /opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME/static/robots.txt
Alias /favicon.ico /opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME/static/favicon.ico
Alias /static/ /opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME/static/
<Directory /opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME/static>
Require all granted
</Directory>
WSGIScriptAlias / /opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME/APPNAME/wsgi.py
<Directory /opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME/APPNAME>
<Files wsgi.py>
Require all granted
</Files>
</Directory>
</VirtualHost>

After you have edit the configuration restart the Apache server. The Django page should now be running.

Last but not the least, we can put all python dependency inside your isolated folder, instead of using the global python path. This would save you a lot of time to resolve those dependency hell problems as well as different Python version issues.

To use the virtualenv tool, simply run below inside your project directory.

pip install virtualenv 
virtualenv venv
source venv/bin/activate

This would create a folder which contains all your python executable. Further pip install requirements would be inside this folder instead of the global path. Go back to edit the previous project-vhost.conf and project-https-vhost.conf, change the third line from:

WSGIDaemonProcess APPNAME python-home=/opt/yourpath/python python-path=/opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME

To this:

WSGIDaemonProcess APPNAME python-home=/opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME/venv python-path=/opt/yourpath/projects/APPNAME

Be careful to point the python home path to the venv folder, instead of the /bin executable nor the python location. Otherwise, you would hit 500 error. In case you can’t figure out the error, such as python dependency issue, you can check the Apache server error log here:

tail /opt/yourpath/apache2/logs/error_log

That’s it. Go to your public IP address and you should be able to load the Django page.

P.S. one last tips: if you hit error below at the wsgi:

Timeout when reading response headers from daemon process

Edit the project-vhost.conf and project-https-vhost..conf, then add this line below the WSGIDaemonProcess:

WSGIApplicationGroup %{GLOBAL}

Somehow Python C extension modules, like numpy, are known to cause timeouts when used under mod_wsgi.


Originally published at https://victorleungtw.com on August 5, 2020.

By Victor Leung

Experience in software development, consulting services and technical product management. Understanding of business and technology with an MBA in Finance and a Master degree in Computer Science. AWS Certified Solution Architect with experience in building products from scratch and serving as a charismatic leader.

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