Caesar is a research project designed to facilitate crowd-sourced collaborative code review in software engineering classes.
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  • Ubuntu or Debian
  • Python 2.7 with pip available
  • Apache 2 with mod_wsgi and mod_ssl

All of the configuration files expect the project code to live at /var/django/caesar.


We use Vagrant and VirtualBox to run Caesar in a virtual machine on your laptop. Here are the steps:

Clone from github

Clone this repository from github, if you haven't already.

git clone

Create and start the virtual machine

Install Vagrant and VirtualBox on your laptop.

Make sure you're in your caesar-web folder, which has the Vagrantfile in it. Start the VM:

cd caesar-web
vagrant up

Ignore the final warning from apache2: Could not reliably determine the server's fully qualified domain name.

Log into it:

vagrant ssh

If it asks you for a password, the password for the vagrant account is just "vagrant".

Configure local settings

Copy the template for

cd /var/django/caesar

The default settings are intended for development: DEBUG is turned on, a local sqlite database file is used for storing data. For deploying Caesar as a user-facing web app, you should edit and change settings as explained by the comments.

Initialize the database

Now, initialize the database. With the default file, the database is stored in a .sqlite3 file in /home/vagrant, so you can always delete that file and start this part over if things go wrong.

cd /var/django/caesar
./ syncdb         # say "no", don't create superuser yet
./ migrate

If you want to preload the database with test data do this:

./ loaddata fixtures/test_fixtures.json

If you did NOT complete the previous step (preloading the database with test data), create a superuser that will allow you to log in to Caesar with admin privileges:

./ createsuperuser

Test that Caesar is running

Restart the Apache webserver:

sudo apachectl graceful  # to restart Apache and force it to reload Caesar

Browse to on your laptop and try to log in, either using the superuser account you created above, or (if you're at MIT) with your MIT certificate. If login is successful, clicking on the "view all users" link at the top of the page should show you all the users in the test database.

Development tips

To edit code, work with git, and use other dev tools, just work with the caesar-web folder that you checked out to your laptop. This folder tree is synced automatically with /var/django/caesar in the VM. You don't have to go inside the VM.

The only thing you do have to do from the VM is restart Apache whenever you edit a Python source file. Here's how:

vagrant ssh              # if you're not already logged into your VM
sudo apachectl graceful  # to restart Apache and force it to reload Caesar

The Django debug toolbar ("DjDt") appears on the right side of Caesar's web pages whenever you have DEBUG=True in The toolbar is particularly useful for viewing debug messages. To print messages, use

import logging
logging.debug("hello, world")

Messages like this will appear in the Logging pane of the debug toolbar.

To run Caesar in debug mode, use the following command: python -m pdb runserver localhost:8888

This will cause Django to automatically reload all altered code. Additionally, by using: import pdb; pdb.set_trace() you can drop down into a PDB session, which is incredibly useful for debugging crashes & bugs.

By default, your development web server isn't visible outside your laptop. Nobody else can browse to But you can make it visible (at your laptop's IP address) using an ssh tunnel:

sudo ssh -L -L vagrant@
(Default) Password: vagrant


These instructions were written for deployment on Ubuntu 12 with Apache 2.2.

Check out Caesar

Caesar assumes that it will live at /var/django/caesar, so create that folder and give yourself ownership of it:

sudo mkdir -p /var/django/caesar
sudo chown $USER /var/django/caesar
sudo chgrp $USER /var/django/caesar

Now check out the code:

sudo apt-get install -y git  # make sure git is installed
git clone /var/django/caesar

Install Django and other dependencies

Now run the setup script:

sudo /var/django/caesar/

Configure Caesar

To point Caesar to the right database, copy the local settings file:

cd /var/django/caesar

Then edit and change the settings appropriately.

Initialize the database

Finally, if you are starting a new database, the database needs some setup:

cd /var/django/caesar
./ syncdb         # say "no", don't create superuser yet
./ migrate
./ createsuperuser
sudo apachectl graceful    # restart Apache

Finally browse to your web server and try to log in.