Deploying Django with virtualenv on Dreamhost

March 22, 2015 in Django

I have recently moved away from PHP and begun working with more all-purpose languages, Python being the main one. While experimenting with this new language, I rewrote my blog to use the Python web framework Django. Django 1.7 with Python 3.x is not supported by default on Dreamhost's shared servers, so here is how I installed my own custom version of Python to deploy my app.

In this tutorial I will walk you through installing Python 3.4.3 and Django 1.7 in a Python virtual environment on a Dreamhost shared server.

First, ssh into your server an make sure you are in the home directory. In this directory create a 'python' folder and move to it

mkdir python
cd python

Download and extract the Python source so we can compile our custom installation.

tar xvfJ Python-3.4.3.tar.xz 
cd Python-3.4.3

Compile the source and install it in a directory called 'Python34'.

./configure --prefix=$HOME/Python34
make install

Add the installation to the PATH variable.

echo 'export PATH=$HOME/Python34/bin:$PATH' >> ~/.bash_profile
source ~/.bash_profile

Create a virtualenv and install Django.

pyvenv-3.4 venv
source venv/bin/activate
pip install django

Now Python is installed and ready to go. To finish setting up your site, edit the settings in your Dreamhost dashboard to allow for Passenger. Once you have done this, create a file in the root of your website directory.

import sys, os
cwd = os.getcwd()
sys.path.append(cwd + '/my_project')

INTERP = os.path.expanduser("~/venv/bin/python")

if sys.executable != INTERP: os.execl(INTERP, INTERP, *sys.argv)


os.environ['DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE'] = "my_project.settings"
from django.core.wsgi import get_wsgi_application
application = get_wsgi_application()

Create the restart file to start your passenger site

touch tmp/restart.txt

Finally, you add your application to the root of the website directory. Now we can set up the Django application.

cd my_project
python migrate
python loaddata data.json
python collectstatic

That's all there is to it! Now whenever you make a change, you need to edit tmp/restart.txt. Passenger looks at the time-stamp of that file to determine if it needs to restart.