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This app has been discontinued and is no longer maintained.

Webfaction Django 1.4 Boilerplate

Use it, if you know what you are doing

This boilerplate has been tested with a fresh Webfaction server with Django 1.4 on May 24 2012. It worked without any issues. However, if you use it and fab install_everything crashes you will have read the fabric error message carefully, think hard about what might have gone wrong, probably fix the fabfile (and open an issue here) and try again. The fab task is setup in such a way that it deletes previous failed attempts on the server so that it can be run over and over again.

This project will help you to start new Django projects on Webfaction servers.

Naming conventions

Throughout the instructions we will stick to the following naming conventions:

  • username is your webfaction username. You will want to chose a username as short as possible since database names have to start with username_ and are quite limited in length.
  • yourproject is the name of your project. You will probably name your folder on your local development environment like this. It should be a short name as well.
  • We will prepend or append yourproject at many places. We could just name your apps django, static and media etc. but we want to make sure that you are able to host several projects on one machine in a clean and manageable way. Most likely yourproject and username will be the same for your first site.
  • is the domain that you want to use.

Webfaction panel

Before you can start to deploy your Django site on your Webfaction server, you need to add various settings at your Webfaction control panel:

  • First, change your control panel password
  • Next, change your SSH/FTP password
  • Go to domains management
  • Add the domain
  • Add the domain and
  • Go to applications management
  • Create a new Django app Django X.X.X (mod_wsgi 3.3/Python 2.7). Call it
  • yourproject_django. Just select the latest release. It doesn't really matter because we will use a virtualenv anyways.
  • Create a new Static app Static only (no .htaccess). Call it yourproject_media and enable expires max.
  • Create a new Static app Static only (no .htaccess). Call it yourproject_static and enable expires max.
  • Create a new app Static/CGI/PHP-5.3. Call it yourproject_www.
  • Create a new app Git. Call it git and enter a password.
  • Go to website management
  • Add a new site called yourproject and map yourproject_django to /, yourproject_media to /media and yourproject_static to /static.
  • Use the subdomains, and
  • Add a new site called git and map git to /.
  • Mark it as HTTPS
  • Use the subdomain
  • Go to database management
  • Create your database (username_yourproject) and note down the password. You should create a PostgreSQL database as the latest MySQL has problems with south migrations of easy_thumbnails.
  • Got to email management
  • Crate a new mailbox (username_yourproject) and note down the password.

Local machine

First setup your local virtualenv. If you are not familiar with virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper we strongly recommend to have a look at those first:

mkvirtualenv -p python2.7 yourproject
workon yourproject

Next cd into your desired project folder and clone this repository:

cd $HOME/Projects
mkdir yourproject
cd yourproject
git clone git:// src

Now you can install the requirements for the project:

cd src
workon yourproject
pip install -r website/webapps/django/myproject/requirements.txt --upgrade

Next you need to copy and modify it for your needs. Basically you just need to modify your webfaction username and your desired project name. Usually both will be the same unless you are hosting several Django apps on the same Webfaction server. It also holds some values that will be inserted into your server's


You need to create a .ssh directory on your Webfaction server with permissions setup properly. Once you have done that, copy your public rsa key into your clipboard, ssh into your Webfaction server and append your key to .ssh/authorized_keys. If you have already done sone, you can skip this step. It will setup the .ssh folder on your server according to the Webfaction user guide on accessing your data using SSH keys:

fab run_create_ssh_dir

You can check if everything worked by exiting your ssh session and creating a new one immediately after. This time you should not be asked for a password any more.

Since you are on the server now anyways, you might consider to install our Webfaction dotfiles.

From now on we will use a fabric file that will setup your local repository and deploy it on your webfaction server. First it will prepare your local repository. Obviously you cloned this boilerplate repository but you don't want our history in your new project's history. So first the fabfile delete the .git folder and .gitmodules, run git init, add submodules, copy local settings files and run syncdb and loaddata.

After this you should be able to cd into the project folder, run ./ runserver and login to /admin-XXXX/ with username admin and password test123.

Next it will login to your Webfaction server and create a git repository, hook up your local repo with the one on the server and do a push. It will install many useful scripts for django-cleanup, database backups, media-files backups and translation catalogues backups. It will install cronjobs, place a .pgpass file, install virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper, make changes to the .bashrc file, clone your repo into the folder /src, install the requirements.txt and do a first deployment, which will run syncdb, migrate, collectstatic and makemessages. And for all this goodness you only need one command:

# The task will only halt once and ask for your git password
fab install_everything

This will run for up to 20 minutes or so. Afterwards you will have a ready to go local project that is also deployed on your Webfaction server.

We even went one step further and provided initial fixtures which should give you everything you need for a normal website. In order to install the fixtures locally do the following. If you just want to create your own CMS pages and start creating your templates, you can skp this step:

cd website/webapps/django/project
fab rebuild
./ runserver

The idea behind this rebuild command is that a new developer should never be forced to download the lates database from production in order to get started. Instead we should always provide fixtures that setup enough test data so that a new developer can run fab rebuild and as a result he will see a fresh database that has all needed CMS pages and apphooks and lorem ipsum blog posts and other test data inside.

Your development workflows might differ, so you can just ignore this command.

Webfaction server

At this point you are able to browse to and see the django-cms welcome screen. First you should login at /admin-XXXX/ with username admin and password test123 and change your password.

The next thing you should do is ssh into your Webfaction server and change the secret key in $HOME/webapps/yourproject_django/myproject/settings/local/

You should also change the ADMIN_URL setting in your and set it to a random number.

If you want to make use of the fab rebuild command on your server as well, you should run:

workon yourproject
pip install fabric
pip install coverage
cd $HOME/webapps/yourproject_django/myproject/
fab rebuild

This setup assumes that you are deploying a multilingual project, so you would want to create your first translation catalogues now:

cd $HOME/webapps/yourproject_django/myproject/
workon yourproject
./ makemessages -l ch_ZN

If you don't intend to use i18n, you can remove the scheduled backups from crontab:

crontab -e
# remove the line about


In your local project you should change the recepients for the contact form app. Usually this should be your customers address. You can find the file at ../myproject/settings/installed_apps/

You should also have a look at ../myproject/templates/base.html and change the site name that gets appended to the title. If you are using Google Analytics, you should enter your ID, if not, you should delete the analytics code snippet.


  • it seems as if the script deletes existing .pgpass file on the server?
  • Document what gets changed and how to revert in case of failure
  • fab rebuild does not work because there is no test_media
  • Why is there a and after install everything?
  • Add delete_project task
  • Only add cronjobs if not there already
  • Make sure django forwards to www
  • Autogenerate secret key
  • Use ssh for git authentication
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