Deployment with Docker


  • Docker 17.05+.

  • Docker Compose 1.17+

Understanding the Docker Compose Setup

Before you begin, check out the docker-compose.production.yml file in the root of this project. Keep note of how it provides configuration for the following services:

  • django: your application running behind Gunicorn;

  • postgres: PostgreSQL database with the application’s relational data;

  • redis: Redis instance for caching;

  • traefik: Traefik reverse proxy with HTTPS on by default.

Provided you have opted for Celery (via setting use_celery to y) there are three more services:

  • celeryworker running a Celery worker process;

  • celerybeat running a Celery beat process;

  • flower running Flower.

The flower service is served by Traefik over HTTPS, through the port 5555. For more information about Flower and its login credentials, check out Celery Flower instructions for local environment.

Configuring the Stack

The majority of services above are configured through the use of environment variables. Just check out Configuring the Environment and you will know the drill.

To obtain logs and information about crashes in a production setup, make sure that you have access to an external Sentry instance (e.g. by creating an account with, and set the SENTRY_DSN variable. Logs of level logging.ERROR are sent as Sentry events. Therefore, in order to send a Sentry event use:

import logging
logging.error("This event is sent to Sentry", extra={"<example_key>": "<example_value>"})

The extra parameter allows you to send additional information about the context of this error.

You will probably also need to setup the Mail backend, for example by adding a Mailgun API key and a Mailgun sender domain, otherwise, the account creation view will crash and result in a 500 error when the backend attempts to send an email to the account owner.


If your email server used to send email isn’t configured properly (Mailgun by default), attempting to send an email will cause an Internal Server Error.

By default, django-allauth is setup to have emails verifications mandatory, which means it’ll send a verification email when an unverified user tries to log-in or when someone tries to sign-up.

This may happen just after you’ve setup your Mailgun account, which is running in a sandbox subdomain by default. Either add your email to the list of authorized recipients or verify your domain.

Optional: Use AWS IAM Role for EC2 instance

If you are deploying to AWS, you can use the IAM role to substitute AWS credentials, after which it’s safe to remove the AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID AND AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY from .envs/.production/.django. To do it, create an IAM role and attach it to the existing EC2 instance or create a new EC2 instance with that role. The role should assume, at minimum, the AmazonS3FullAccess permission.

HTTPS is On by Default

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client, typically in this case, a web server (website) and a browser. Not having HTTPS means that malicious network users can sniff authentication credentials between your website and end users’ browser.

It is always better to deploy a site behind HTTPS and will become crucial as the web services extend to the IoT (Internet of Things). For this reason, we have set up a number of security defaults to help make your website secure:

  • If you are not using a subdomain of the domain name set in the project, then remember to put your staging/production IP address in the DJANGO_ALLOWED_HOSTS environment variable (see Settings) before you deploy your website. Failure to do this will mean you will not have access to your website through the HTTP protocol.

  • Access to the Django admin is set up by default to require HTTPS in production or once live.

The Traefik reverse proxy used in the default configuration will get you a valid certificate from Lets Encrypt and update it automatically. All you need to do to enable this is to make sure that your DNS records are pointing to the server Traefik runs on.

You can read more about this feature and how to configure it, at Automatic HTTPS in the Traefik docs.

Webpack without Whitenoise limitation

If you opt for Webpack without Whitenoise, Webpack needs to know the static URL at build time, when running docker compose build (See webpack/prod.config.js). Depending on your setup, this URL may come from the following environment variables:





The Django settings are getting these values at runtime via the .envs/.production/.django file , but Docker does not read this file at build time, it only look for a .env in the root of the project. Failing to pass the values correctly will result in a page without CSS styles nor javascript.

To solve this, you can either:

  1. merge all the env files into .env by running:
  2. create a .env file in the root of the project with just variables you need. You’ll need to also define them in .envs/.production/.django (hence duplicating them).

  3. set these variables when running the build command: docker compose -f docker-compose.production.yml build``.

None of these options are ideal, we’re open to suggestions on how to improve this. If you think you have one, please open an issue or a pull request.

(Optional) Postgres Data Volume Modifications

Postgres is saving its database files to the production_postgres_data volume by default. Change that if you want something else and make sure to make backups since this is not done automatically.

Building & Running Production Stack

You will need to build the stack first. To do that, run:

docker compose -f docker-compose.production.yml build

Once this is ready, you can run it with:

docker compose -f docker-compose.production.yml up

To run the stack and detach the containers, run:

docker compose -f docker-compose.production.yml up -d

To run a migration, open up a second terminal and run:

docker compose -f docker-compose.production.yml run --rm django python migrate

To create a superuser, run:

docker compose -f docker-compose.production.yml run --rm django python createsuperuser

If you need a shell, run:

docker compose -f docker-compose.production.yml run --rm django python shell

To check the logs out, run:

docker compose -f docker-compose.production.yml logs

If you want to scale your application, run:

docker compose -f docker-compose.production.yml up --scale django=4
docker compose -f docker-compose.production.yml up --scale celeryworker=2


don’t try to scale postgres, celerybeat, or traefik.

To see how your containers are doing run:

docker compose -f docker-compose.production.yml ps

Example: Supervisor

Once you are ready with your initial setup, you want to make sure that your application is run by a process manager to survive reboots and auto restarts in case of an error. You can use the process manager you are most familiar with. All it needs to do is to run docker compose -f docker-compose.production.yml up in your projects root directory.

If you are using supervisor, you can use this file as a starting point:

command=docker compose -f docker-compose.production.yml up

Move it to /etc/supervisor/conf.d/{{cookiecutter.project_slug}}.conf and run:

supervisorctl reread
supervisorctl update
supervisorctl start {{cookiecutter.project_slug}}

For status check, run:

supervisorctl status

Media files without cloud provider

If you chose no cloud provider and Docker, the media files will be served by an nginx service, from a production_django_media volume. Make sure to keep this around to avoid losing any media files.