An experimental design for a privacy-minded push server.
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ChatSecure Push Server

An experimental design for a privacy-minded push server.

Deploy to Heroku


After deployment is complete, use the Heroku Scheduler to schedule daily expired token cleanup via the python push/ delete_expired_tokens command:

Heroku Scheduler Clean Expired Tokens Task

Manual Installation

You will need to install RabbitMQ, Postgres, and pip using the method of your choosing:

RabbitMQ is available via Homebrew.

$ brew install rabbitmq

Postgres is available on Mac with but more readily upgradeable when installed via Homebrew with brew install postgres. On Linux, install the latest version of Postgres with the package manager of your choice.

After installing Postgres, add its bin/ directory to your system path in prepararation for psycopg2, the python PostgreSQL adapter.

# ~/.bash_profile
# ...
# Postgres (Your path will differ if you aren't using

If you don't have the latest version of Python 2.7 and pip, get them.

$ brew install python (Mac. On Linux, use the package manager of your choice)
$ easy_install pip

Virtual Environment

Setup your virtual environment. You'll probably need to do some more stuff too.

$ pip install virtualenv virtualenvwrapper
$ mkvirtualenv push
$ workon push

Then you will need to install the following dependencies:

(push)$ cd /path/to/ChatSecure-Push-Server/
(push)$ pip install -r requirements.txt


Create a PostgrSQL database matching that you specified in your ./push/push/

# From psql console:
$ create database NAME;


APNS SSL Certificates

Each iOS client application requires separate APNS SSL Certificates for development and production environments. The process below is for a single certificate.

  1. Obtained a signed SSL cert from the Apple Provisioning Portal. We'll refer to this cert as DevCert.cer.

    1. Go to iOS Identifiers and create an entry for your application namespace.
    2. Select the newly created identifier and then Edit from the bottom of the page. Select Push Notifications and then Create Certificate. This will provide instructions for generating and uploading a .certSigningRequest file created with Keychain Access on your Mac.
    3. Upload the .certSigningRequest and download the signed SSL cert as DevCert.cer
  2. Convert your Apple-issued DevCert.cer to DevCert.pem.

    $ openssl x509 -in DevCert.cer -inform der -out DevCert.pem
  3. Export your Keychain Access-generated private key (from 1.ii) as DevKey.p12.

    Open Keychain Access, and select Keys from the left pane. Select your certificate's Private Key entry and then Export to generate the DevKey.p12 file.

  4. Convert DevKey.p12 private key to DevKey.pem

    $ openssl pkcs12 -nocerts -in DevKey.p12 -out DevKey.pem -nodes
  5. Combine the no-password private key DevKey.pem with the Apple-issued and signed cert DevCert.pem into the cert file Certificate.pem:

    $ cat DevCert.pem DevKey.pem > Certificate.pem
  6. Configure this Django app to use your prepared certificate

    If using Heroku:

    heroku config:add APNS_CERTIFICATE="$(cat Certificate.pem)"

    Else if using your own server, make sure your certificate is accessible at ./private_keys/apns_cert.pem.


  1. Create a Google Cloud Messaging application using this wizard.
  2. You'll be prompted for an 'App name' and 'Android package name' (or 'iOS Bundle ID' if you're using GCM for iOS).
  3. You'll finally be prompted to choose your Google Services. For our purposes you'll only need 'Cloud Messaging'.
  4. The wizard will present a Server API Key which you copy to as GCM_API_KEY

Copy to Fill in the following values:

In PUSH_NOTIFICATION_SETTINGS (for django-push-notifications app):

  • APNS_CERTIFICATE (str): Path to your Certificate.pem file. On Heroku this file is generated from the APNS_CERTIFICATE environmental variable by the bin/post_compile hook.
  • APNS_HOST (str) : Address to the APNS Host. Should be one of settings.APNS_HOST_DEV or settings.APNS_HOST_PROD, depending on which APNS certificate you are using
  • APNS_FEEDBACK_HOST (str) : Address to the APNS Feedback Host. Should be one of settings.APNS_FEEDBACK_HOST_DEV or settings.APNS_FEEDBACK_HOST_PROD, depending on which APNS certificate you are using
  • APNS_ERROR_TIMEOUT (float) : A period in seconds to await an APNS error response. Set non-zero to check and log APNS send errors. 0.5 is a typical value.
  • GCM_API_KEY (str) : Your Google Cloud Messaging Server Api Key

Heroku Instructions

On Heroku the default will generate the above settings if you specify the following environmental variables:

  • GCM_API_KEY : Your Google Cloud Messaging Server Api Key
  • APNS_CERTIFICATE : Your APNS certificate contents. This can be added via heroku config:add APNS_CERTIFICATE=“$(cat Certificate.pem)”
  • APNS_USE_SANDBOX : Either 'true' or 'false'. Will supply the appropriate values for APNS_HOST and APNS_FEEDBACK_HOST


First create a PostgrSQL database matching that you specified in your ./push/push/

# From psql console:
$ create database NAME;

Next you need to sync your database before you can do anything.

(push)$ python migrate

Next add a superuser account for yourself. The below command will start a wizard to guide you.

(push)$ python createsuperuser

Running (Development)

Launch the Django Push Server:

$ workon push # activate your virtual environment
(push)$ python runserver # Start Django Server

In a new terminal window:

$ rabbitmq-server

In another new terminal window:

$ workon push # activate your virtual environment
(push)$ python celery worker --loglevel=info # Start Celery workers

Running (Heroku)


First install the Heroku toolbelt on your development machine.

$ brew install heroku-toolbelt

To set up a new Heroku instance, invoke the following from the project root:

$ heroku create appname

To connect to an existing Heroku instance, invoke the following from the project root:

$ git remote add heroku

To modify the value of secret values (currently GCM_API_KEY, APNS_CERTIFICATE, DJANGO_SECRET_KEY, DATABASE_URL):

$ heroku config:set NAME=VALUE  # This also restarts your app

Note that we store the APNS certificate contents in APNS_CERTIFICATE and use the post_compile hook to copy its value into a certificate file.

To add commands that should be run before the Procfile is invoked, see ./bin/post_compile. Currently we invoke migrate.


Use Heroku Local to locally run the application in the heroku environment.

$ heroku local


After creating your Heroku application, add a Heroku Postgres addon. To add the free trial database:

$  heroku addons:create heroku-postgresql:hobby-dev

See other Heroku Postgres plans.

Push to the Heroku remote's master branch to deploy.

$ git push heroku master

If you need to deploy a non-master local branch:

$ git push heroku localBranch:master


To run a command on the Heroku instance:

$ heroku run python push/ some_command
Pruning Push Tokens

Push tokens on our Heroku instance older than settings.CHATSECURE_PUSH['DEFAULT_TOKEN_EXPIRY_TIME_S'] are deleted based on the tokens/ management command. You can manually invoke this on Heroku (remove --dry-run to actually delete expired tokens)`:

$ heroku run python push/ delete_expired_tokens --dry-run

API Documentation

Check out docs/v3/ for now. The API is constantly in flux right now.


Run tests from the termainal:

$ python push/ test push

Or directly within PyCharm:

Edit Configurations -> + Add new -> Django tests


ChatSecure Push Server
Copyright (C) 2015 Chris Ballinger <>

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
it under the terms of the GNU Affero General Public License as
published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the
License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
GNU Affero General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU Affero General Public License
along with this program.  If not, see <>.