Fabric file and related resources for deploying a Mezzanine project to a Webfaction shared hosting account
Switch branches/tags
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.
Mezzanine Webfaction.sublime-project


Mezzanine Webfaction

Fabric file and related resources for deploying a Mezzanine project to a Webfaction shared hosting account.


  1. Copy fabfile.py, and deploy/ to your Mezzanine project folder, replacing them if they already exist.
  2. Right after all the imports in fabfile.py (line 27), substitute your project name in the call to real_project_name(). This corresponds with the "inner" project folder, where your local_settings.py resides.
  3. Configure the contents of the FABRIC dictionary in your local_settings.py as shown in fabsettings.py. Lines that are commented out are optional. Don't forget to set ALLOWED_HOSTS to the value it should have in production.


In your dev machine

  • Mezzanine (4+)
  • Django (1.7+)
  • Fabric
  • A git/mercurial repo with your project files (optional)
  • A pip requirements file

In your Webfaction account

  • pip
  • virtualenv
  • supervisor
  • Git app (optional)
  • memcached

Note: this script can install the server pre-requisites for you.


  1. To start, we assume you have a working Mezzanine project with Fabric installed in your virtualenv. Your local_settings.py should have all your Webfaction details filled in the FABRIC dictionary. From here on, all commands are run from the project root in your local machine.
  2. Run fab install to install all pre-requisites and prepare your Webfaction account for hosting your projects. You only need to run this task once for each account. All subsequent projects deployed to the same server can skip this step.
  3. Run fab deploy to create your project in your Webfaction server and upload the latest version. Boom! Your site is live. Visit it in your browser.
  4. Subsequent deployments can be done with fab deploy.
  5. If you want to wipe out all traces of the project in your server, you can run fab remove. The prerequistes will persist.
  6. Get a list of all available tasks with fab --list.


How is this different from the default Mezzanine fabfile?

This fabfile is based on the one provided by Mezzanine, but includes several tweaks to make it work in a shared hosting environment.

  • sudo is never used since Webfaction accounts don't have this privilege.
  • The Webfaction API is used heavily to fully automate the deployment. This includes creating domain and site records, apps, databases and cronjobs.
  • The server-wide Nginx installation is used via a static app, instead of defining custom Nginx config files.

How is this different from the Webfaction tutorial on installing Django?

Deploying with Fabric has several advantages over the method provided by Webfaction:

  • Fully automated. No need to login to the control panel at all. This was the main reason I created this fabfile, to speed up the transition from development to production on my client's projects.
  • Uses Gunicorn as the application server instead of Apache.
  • Installs everything according to Django best practices, instead of creating a Django App in the control panel which is hard to mantain up to date.
  • Automates the installation of requirements, running of migrations, and database and static files backups.
  • Uses supervisor for managing processes, wich is tidier than a cronjob for each Apache instance.

Why am I being prompted for a bunch of passwords when doing fab deploy?

This is largely because Fabric cannot "fake" password input for you. This is a list of common passwords you will be asked for, and some alternatives to get rid of them:

  • SSH password: You might see a prompt like Password for username@ This is a prompt for the SSH password for your Webfaction server. It is stored in local_settings.FABRIC["SSH_PASS"]. You can get rid of the prompt by using key-based authentication.
  • Remote database password: As the name implies, this is the password for the database in your Webfaction server. You can find it in local_settings.FABRIC["DB_PASS"]. You can get rid of the prompt by creating a .pgpass file in the server.
  • Local database password: The same as the previous one, but for your local machine. This is stored in local_settings.DATABASES["default"]["PASSWORD"]. You can also create a .pgpass file for your computer to get rid of the prompt.

How come I'm seeing several gunicorn processes running for each Mezzanine project?

Gunicorn uses a master process and a configurable number of worker processes to serve a site. The Gunicorn docs recommend this number should depend on the amount of processor cores, however, in my tests with my 16-core Webfaction server this results in 33 processes, which quickly eats all my RAM. I recommend you use anything from 2 to 6 workers for your projects. You can tweak this in the NUM_WORKERS setting in the FABRIC dictionary of your local_settings and doing a deploy to apply the changes.

I received an email from Webfaction saying that my resource usage is over limit. Why?

Your Webfaction hosting account has a limit on the amount of CPU and RAM you can use. If by some reason your Mezzanine site is over that limit, you will receive a warning for you to reduce the resource usage. Most of the time, this means reducing the number of gunicorn worker processes. You can do this in the FABRIC section of local_settings.py, by setting NUM_WORKERS to something like 1 or 2 and doing a new deployment.

Webfaction killed my processes for resource overuse, now my site is down!

This means your usage was WAY over limit, and Webfaction killed your processes to immediately reduce your resource consumption. In order to bring your sites back up, you need to do the following:

  • Consider reducing the amount of gunicorn workers, as explained in the previous point.
  • SSH into your Webfaction account and restart supervisor: supervisord -c ~/etc/supervisord.conf.
  • Also restart memcached: memcached -d -m 50 -s ~/memcached.sock -P ~/memcached.pid.

Webfaction experienced an outage / rebooted my server and my site is down!

You can partially mitigate this by periodically starting supervisord and memcache via a cronjob. You can also set the cronjob to be executed on server reboot only:

# cron jobs
@reboot ~/bin/supervisord -c ~/etc/supervisord.conf
@reboot memcached -d -m 50 -s ~/memcached.sock -P ~/memcached.pid

There's an edge case with this approach: Gunicorn's PID file could potentially prevent gunicorn from starting again if it stores a PID it can't kill. This might be the case after a server reboot, where the PID file would keep the old PID and gunicorn would try to kill it before starting again. You can get around this by deleting all gunicorn.pid files after a reboot.

# Add to your crontab BEFORE the line that starts supervisord
@reboot find ~/webapps -maxdepth 2 -type f -name gunicorn.pid -delete

Why are you using a symlink to a static/php app instead of one to a static-only app?

Because by doing so you can specify expiration dates for static assets in .htaccess in your root static directory. This prevents browsers from requesting all your assets every time. Rationale, Question in QA site. You can change the static app from symlink54 to symlink_static_only if you wish.

What exactly is the fabfile doing?

I recommend you take a look into the source to wrap your head around each task, but here is a quick run through them:

  1. If you use fab install it will install and configure all pre- requesites. This includes setting up an account-level pip, virtualenv and supervisor installation. A supervisord conf file is created and memcached is started with an allocation of 50 Mb. If you're using git, a git application named git_app is created in ~/webapps/git_app. All repos will live in there.
  2. A full project setup with fab deploy will create a new virtualenv in the Webfaction server, create a site, database, a custom app, and a static app with the Webfaction API, and install all your project dependencies in the venv. It will create a site record in the project DB and a superuser if you define ADMIN_PASS.
  3. Afte the first time, fab deploy pushes all your changes to the server, collect's static files and restart's the gunicorn process via supervisor.


The fabfile comes with a few extra goodies not found in Mezzanine by default:

Sync the local database with the remote database

Local database must also be postgres.

fab pulldb # Download the remote DB and restore it locally
fab pushdb # Upload the local DB and restore it remotely

Sync the local user-uploaded media with the server

fab pullmedia # Download the remote media files into the local project
fab pushmedia # Upload the local media files into the remote project

Setup a cronjob to poll Twitter

Make sure you define TWITTER_PERIOD in your deploy settings first.

fab setup_twitter

Setup a mailbox to send emails from your server

This allows you to receive tracebacks if something goes wrong (if you add yourself to the ADMINS setting), and make the contact forms actually send notification emails. Make sure you have defined the three email settings in your FABRIC dictionary. You can fill these settings however you like, Fabric will create the mailbox via the Webfaction API and hook your site to it. For example:

# in your FABRIC settings...
"EMAIL_USER": "mezzanine",  # Whatever you like
"EMAIL_PASS": "mezzanine",  # Whatever you like
"DEFAULT_EMAIL": "no-reply@username.webfactional.com",  # Use your Webfaction username
fab setup_email
fab deploy

Known issues (please contribute!)

  • Tested only with Python 2.7, Django 1.7-1.8, and Mezzanine 4.
  • No support for MySQL.
  • You can only deploy to one Webfaction server.