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Getting started with Django on Kubernetes with Google Container Engine and Minikube

This is a tutorial repo associated with a serise of blog posts on It demonstrates how to run Django, Postgres, and Redis all on a Kubernetes cluster using either Minikube (locally) or Google Container Engine.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

If you're following along part 1 or part 2 of the tutorial, check out the part1 git branch (viewable here ) which is an older branch before the Minikube changes.

Since this project demonstrates deploying Postgres and Redis to the cluster, it's slightly involved. For a simpler example of Django on Container Engine/Kubernetes, try

which also deploys Django to Kubernetes but uses a CloudSQL managed MySQL database, no cache, no secrets, and does not demonstrate autoscaling.

While this project is written for Google Container Engine and Minikube, these instructions should work on other Kubernetes platforms with some adjustments and should also deploy on other Kubernetes providers besides Google Container. Specifically, cluster creation steps, disks, load balancers, cloud storage options, and node autoscalers should get replaced by their equivalents on your platform.

While this repo focus on Google Container Engine and Minikube, these instructions should work on other Kubernetes platforms with some adjustments. Specifically, cluster creation steps, disks, load balancers, cloud storage options, and node autoscalers should get replaced by their equivalents on your platform.

Please submit any code or doc issues to the issue tracker!

Container Engine vs Minikube

Originally, this project focused only on how to run the project on Container Engine. As a followup, instructions for how to run the project on a local Kubernetes cluster using minikube have been added. Minikube has several advantages. It's free, it works offline, but it still emulates a local Kubernetes cluster.

Since Minikube fully emulates a Kubernetes cluster, only a few small changes need to be made when deploying the project. Notably:

  • The PostgreSQL Deployment requires a Persistent Volume Claim. The Persistent Volume that is bound to is different. For Container Engine, it's bound to a GCE Persistent Disk. For Minikube, it's bound to a directory on your local machine (hostMount)

  • Images for Container Engine are stored on Google Container Registry. Minikube is not easily able to authenticate and pull these images, so instead, you use eval $(minikube docker-env) to share the Docker daemon with Minikube. Images you build with docker build will then be available to Minkube. Note that the default imagePullPolicy will be 'Always' for any images without tags, so imagePullPolicy has been explicitly set to IfNotPresent for all the images.

  • We use jinja2 CLI to template the configs, allowing Minikube or GKE specific parts to be included conditionally.

will generate the GKE configs, see gke_jinja.json for example input parameters.


Several commands listed below are provided in simpler form via the Makefile. Many of them use the GCLOUD_PROJECT environment variable, which will be picked up from your gcloud config. Make sure you set this to the correct project,

gcloud config set project <your-project-id>

There are more Makefiles in sub-directories to help build and push specific images.

Jinja Templates

This project uses the jinja 2 CLI to share templates between the GKE config and Minikube config.


 pip install -r requirements-dev.txt

to install the CLI. At that point, you can see minikube_jinja.json and gke_jinja.json as examples of variables you need to poplate to generate the templates.

 make template

will use the json variables to create the templates.

Container Engine Pre-requisites

  1. Install Docker.

  2. Create a project in the Google Cloud Platform Console.

  3. Enable billing for your project.

  4. Enable APIs for your project. The provided link will enable all necessary APIs, but if you wish to do so manually you will need Compute, Datastore, Pub/Sub, Storage, and Logging. Note: enabling the APIs can take a few minutes.

  5. Initialise the Container Engine for the project

  6. If on OSX or Linux then install the Google Cloud SDK:

     curl | bash

    or if on Windows then use the Google Cloud Shell (because kubectl doesn't work yet on Windows) which you can start from the Google Cloud Platform Console.

  7. (Re-)Initialise the settings to set the compute zone:

     gcloud init
  8. Authenticate the CLI:

     gcloud auth application-default login
  9. Create a cluster for the bookshelf application

     gcloud container clusters create guestbook --scopes "","cloud-platform" --num-nodes 2
     gcloud container clusters get-credentials guestbook

The get-credentials commands initializes the kubectl CLI tool with the cluster you just created.

Alternatively, you can use the Makefile:

    make create-cluster

Minkube Prerequisites

Please see the minikube project for installation instructions. Note that if you're using Docker for Mac, you should specify the correct driver when you start Minikube.

minikube start --vm-driver=xhyve

Or set this permamently with:

minikube config set vm-driver xhyve

A note about cost

The --num-nodes flag in the cluster create specifies how many instances are created. Container Engine orchestrator is free up to 5 instances, but you will pay for the instances themselves, so to minimize costs just create 1 node.

At the end of the tutorial, run

gcloud container clusters delete guestbook
gcloud compute disks delete pg-data


make delete

To delete the cluster and not get charged for continued use. Deleting resources you are not using is especially important if you run the autoscaling example to create many instances.

Running PostgreSQL and Redis

The Django app depends on a PostgreSQL and Redis service. While this README explains how to deploy those services within the Kubernetes cluster. Looking in mysite/, you can see the app looks for several environment variables.

The first environment variable NODB, if set to 1, uses a SQLite database and an in-memory cache, allowing the app to run without connecting to a real database. This is useful to test the app locally without Postgres/Redis, or deploy it to Kubernetes without Postgres/Redis. Instead, it will use a local SQLite file and in-memory cache. In the Kubernetes cluster, each container will have its own SQLite database and memory-cache, so the persistence and cache storage of the values will not be shared between containers so will not be right. The NODB setting is just to help debug incrementally and should be turned off.

The Jinja templates also contain a "has_db" variable which optionally attaches the database password secrets to the guestbook pod. If NODB is eanbled, make sure your templates are generated with "has_db" set to false, and set it to true otherwise.

Running without a database/cache and without Kubernetes

Enter the guestbook directory

cd guestbook

First make sure you have Django installed. It's recommended you do so in a virtualenv. The requirements.txt contains just the Django dependency.

pip install -r requirements.txt

The app can be run locally the same way as any other Django app.

# disable Postgres and Redis until we set them up
export NODB=1
python runserver

Deploying To Google Container Engine or Minikube (Kubernetes)

Build the Guestbook container

Within the Dockerfile, NODB is turned on or off. Once you have deployed PostgreSQL or Redis, you can disable this flag. If you deploy those services within Kubernetes, the environment variables will be automatically populated. Otherwise you should set the environment variables manually using ENV in the Dockerfile.

Before the application can be deployed to Container Engine, you will need to build the image:

cd guestbook
# Make sure NODB is enabled and set to 1 in the Dockerfile if you still haven't setup Postgres and REDIS.
export GOOGLE_CLOUD_PROJECT=$(gcloud config list project --format="value(core.project)")
docker build -t$GOOGLE_CLOUD_PROJECT/guestbook .

Container Engine

For GKE, you would then push the image to Google Container Registry.

gcloud docker push$GCLOUD_PROJECT/guestbook

or alternatively:

 make push


For Minikube, you don't push the image. Instead, simply make sure that when you build the image, you are using the Minikube docker daemon:

$ eval $(minikube docker-env)
# docker build -t$GOOGLE_CLOUD_PROJECT/guestbook

Deploy to the application

Deploying the frontend guestbook to Kubernetes

Once the image is built, it can be deployed in a Kubernetes pod. kubernetes_configs/guestbook/ contains the Deployment templates to spin up Pods with this image, as well as a Service with an external load balancer. However, the frontend depends on secret passwords for the database, so before it's deployed, a Kubernetes Secret resource with your database passwords must be created.

Remember to follow the above instructions in "Jinja Templates" to generate the following configs:

kubectl apply -f kubernetes_config/guestbook/guestbook_gke.yaml

or on Minikube:

kubectl apply -f kubernetes_config/guestbook/guestbook_minikube.yaml

Create Secrets

Even if NODB is enabled, the frontend replication controller is configured to use the Secret volume, so it must be created in your cluster first.

Kubernetes Secrets are used to store the database password. They must be base64 encoded and store in kubernetes_configs/db.password.yaml. A template containing an example config is created, but your actual Secrets should not be added to source control.

In order to get the base64 encoded password, use the base64 tool

 echo mysecretpassword | base64

Then copy and paste that value into the appropriate part of the Secret config in kubernetes_configs/postgres/postgres.yaml.jinja

In the Postgres and Guestbook deployments, these Secrets are mounted onto their pods if "has_db" is set to true in the Jinja variables. In their Dockerfile they are read into environment variables.

Create the guestbook Service and Deployment

Once the resources are created, there should be 3 frontend pods on the cluster. To see the pods and ensure that they are running:

kubectl get pods

To get more information about a pod, or dig into why it's having problem starting, try

kubectl describe pod <pod-id>

If the pods are not ready or if you see restarts, you can get the logs for a particular pod to figure out the issue:

kubectl logs <pod-id>

Once the pods are ready, you can get the public IP address of the load balancer:

kubectl get services frontend

You can then browse to the external IP address in your browser to see the bookshelf application.

Alternatively on Minikube, there is no external IP, so instead run:

minikube service

When you are ready to update the replication controller with a new image you built, the following command will do a rolling update

export GCLOUD_PROJECT=$(gcloud config list project --format="value(core.project)")
kubectl rolling-update frontend${GCLOUD_PROJECT}/guestbook:latest

which can also be done with the make update command. If you encounter problems with the rolling-update, then check the events:

kubectl get events

It can happen that the nodes don't have enough resources left. A manual scaling down of the replication controller can help (see above) or you can resize the cluster to have an additional node:

gcloud container clusters resize guestbook --size 3

Give it a few minutes to provision the node, then try the rolling update again.

Create the Redis cluster

Since the Redis cluster has no volumes or secrets, it's pretty easy to setup:

kubectl apply -f kubernetes_configs/redis/redis.yaml

This creates a redis-master read/write service and redis-slave service. The images used are configured to properly replicate from the master to the slaves.

There should only be one redis-master pod, so the replication controller configures 1 replicas. There can be many redis-slave pods, so if you want more you can do:

kubectl scale deployment redis-slave --replicas=5

Create PostgreSQL

Container Engine

PostgresSQL will need a disk backed by a Volume to run in Kubernetes. For this example, we create a persistent disk using a GCE persistent disk:

gcloud compute disks create pg-data --size 200GB


make disk

Edit kubernetes_configs/postgres/postgres.yaml.jinja volume name to match the name of the disk you just created, if different.

For Postgres, the secrets need to get populated and a script to initialize the database needs to be added, so a image should be built:

cd kubernetes_configs/postgres/postgres_image
make build
make push


Create the directory to mount:

sudo mkdir /data/pv0001/
sudo chown $(whoami) /data/pv001

Creating the image, PVC, and deployment

cd kubernetes_config/postgres/postgres_image
make build
make push

Finally, you should be able to create the PostgreSQL service and pod.

Again, remember to follow the above instructions in "Jinja Templates" to generate the following configs:

kubectl apply -f kubernetes_configs/postgres/postgres_gke.yaml

or on Minikube:

kubectl apply -f kubernetes_configs/postgres/postgres_minikube.yaml

Only one pod can read and write to a GCE disk, so the PostgreSQL replication controller is set to control 1 pod. Don't scale more instances of the Postgres pod.

Re-Deploy The Frontend and Run Migrations

Now that the database and redis service are created, you should rebuild the frontend guestbook image with NODB disabled.

cd guestbook
# edit Dockerfile to comment out NODB
make build
make push

With this new image, the replication controller should be updated. One way is to do a rolling update

make update

This will safely spin down the old images and replace it with the new image. However, for development purposes it can be quicker to scale the controller to 0 and then back up.

 kubectl scale --replicas=0 rc/frontend
 kubectl scale --replicas=3 rc/frontend

Finally, the Django migrations must be run to create the table. This can also be accomplished with kubectl-exec, this time with the frontend pod. However, make sure your frontend-pod is actually talking to the database. If you earlier built the image with NODB, rebuild it with NODB commented out. Then you can run the migrations:

export FRONTEND_POD_NAME=$(kubectl get pods | grep frontend -m 1 | awk '{print $1}')
  kubectl exec ${FRONTEND_POD_NAME} -- python /app/ makemigrations
  kubectl exec ${FRONTEND_POD_NAME} -- python /app/ migrate


make migrations

Serve the static content

When DEBUG is enabled, Django can serve the files directly from that folder. Currently, the app is configured to serve static content from the files that way to simplify development. For production purposes, you should disable the DEBUG flag and serve static assets from a CDN.

The application uses Google Cloud Storage to store static content. You can alternatively use a CDN of your choice. Create a bucket for your project:

gsutil mb gs://<your-project-id>
gsutil defacl set public-read gs://<your-project-id>


make create-bucket

Collect all the static assets into the static/ folder.

python collectstatic

Upload it to CloudStorage using the gsutil rsync command

gsutil rsync -R static/ gs://<your-gcs-bucket>/static

Now your static content can be served from the following URL:<your-gcs-bucket/static/

Change the STATIC_URL in mysite/ to reflect this new URL by uncommenting the appropriate line and replacing <your-cloud-bucket>

Load Testing and Autoscaling (beta feature)

Please note that autoscaling is a beta feature.

load_test_image provides a super minimal load generator - it hits a CPU intensive endpoint in a loop with curl. First build the image:

cd load_testing_image
make build
make push

Then create the Replication Controller and scale some clients:

kubectl apply -f kubernetes_configs/load_tester.yaml
kubectl scale rc load --replicas=20

to generate load. Then

make autoscaling

will create both Node autoscaling (gcloud) and Pod autoscaling (Kubernetes Horizontal Pod Autoscaling).

Again, by default this will scale to 10 nodes whcih you will be charged for, so pleaes disable autoscaling and scale the nodes back down or delete the cluster if you don't want to pay for sustained use of the 10 instances.

For more sophisticated load testing with Kubernetes, see:


Please use the Issue Tracker for any issues or questions.

Contributing changes

Additional Reading

For another popular Django/Kubernets project + blog post, see:

This project was originally made for a talk/blog post series.

and you can watch the talk here:


This project is owned by Google Copyright 2016 but is not an official Google-product nor officially maintained or supported by Google.


A Django/Postgres/Redis Kubernetes Template







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