Install Django and Set Up a Development Environment on Ubuntu 20.04

Django is a free and open-source web framework written in Python with its core principles being scalability, re-usability, and rapid development. It is also known for its framework-level consistency and loose coupling, allowing for individual components to be independent of one another.

In this tutorial, we will set up a Django environment for development purposes on an Ubuntu 20.04 server. For a live website, you will have additional considerations, including connecting to a database, setting up a domain name, and adding layers of security.

Prerequisites

In order to complete this tutorial, you will need:

  • A non-root user account with sudo privileges, which you can achieve by following and completing the initial server setup for Ubuntu 20.04 tutorial.
  • Python 3 set up with a virtual programming environment. You can get this set up via our Python 3 installation guide.

Step 1 — Installing Django

There are several ways to install Django, the Python package manager pip within a virtual environment.

While in the server’s home directory, we’ll create the directory that will contain our Django application. Run the following command to create a directory called django-apps, or another name of your choice. Then navigate to the directory.

mkdir django-apps
cd django-apps

While inside the django-apps directory, create your virtual environment. We’ll call it the generic env, but you should use a name that is meaningful for you and your project.

virtualenv -p python3 env

Now, activate the virtual environment with the following command:

source env/bin/activate

You’ll know it’s activated once the prefix is changed to (env), which will look similar to the following, depending on what directory you are in:

(env) rahul@ubuntu:$

Within the environment, install the Django package using pip. Installing Django allows us to create and run Django applications.

pip install django

Once installed, verify your Django installation by running a version check:

django-admin --version

This, or something similar, will be the resulting output:

Output
3.0.7

With Django installed on your server, we can move on to creating a test project to make sure everything is working correctly. We’ll be creating a skeleton web application.

Step 2 — Adjusting Firewall Settings

If you followed our initial server setup tutorial or have a firewall running on your server, we’ll need to open the port we’ll be using in our server’s firewall. For the UFW firewall, you can open the port with the following command:

sudo ufw allow 8000

Step 3 — Starting the Project

We now can generate an application using django-admin, a command-line utility for administration tasks in Python. Then we can use the startproject command to create the project directory structure for our test website.

While in the django-apps directory, run the following command:

django-admin startproject djangosite

Now we can look to see what project files were just created. Navigate to the testsite the directory then lists the contents of that directory to see what files were created:

cd djangosite
ls

Output
manage.py  djangosite

You will notice output that shows this directory contains a file named manage.py and a folder named testsite. The manage.py the file is similar to django-admin and puts the project’s package on sys.path. This also sets the DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE environment variable to point to your project’s settings.py file.

You can view the manage.py the script in your terminal by running the less a command like so:

cat manage.py

When you’re finished reading the script, press q, to quit viewing the file.

Now navigate to the testsite directory to view the other files that were created:

cd djangosite/
ls djangosite

Then run the following command to list the contents of the directory:

Output
__init__.py  asgi.py  settings.py  urls.py  wsgi.py

Step 4 — Configuring Django

Now we can start the server and view the website on a designated host and port by running the runserver command.

We’ll need to add your server IP address to the list of ALLOWED_HOSTS in the settings.py file located in ~/test_django_app/testsite/testsite/.

As stated in the Django docs, the ALLOWED_HOSTS variable contains “a list of strings representing the host/domain names that this Django site can serve. This is a security measure to prevent HTTP Host header attacks, which are possible even under many seemingly safe web server configurations.”

You can use your favorite text editor to add your IP address. For example, if you’re using nano, run the following command:

nano ~/django-apps/djangosite/djangosite/settings.py

Once you run the command, you’ll want to navigate to the Allowed Hosts Section of the document and add your server’s IP address inside the square brackets within single or double-quotes.

"""
Django settings for testsite project.

Generated by 'django-admin startproject' using Django 2.0.
...
"""
...
# SECURITY WARNING: don't run with debug turned on in production!
DEBUG = True

# Edit the line below with your server IP address
ALLOWED_HOSTS = ['your-server-ip']
...

Step 5 — Accessing the Django Web App

With our configuration completed, be sure to navigate back to the directory where manage.py is located:

python manage.py runserver 0.0.0.0:8000

Finally, you can navigate to the below link to see what your skeleton website looks like, again replacing the highlighted text with your server’s actual IP:

http://your-server-ip:8000/
First screen

Conclusion

In this tutorial you have successfully installed Django and set up a development environment to begin working on your Django app.

You now have the foundation needed to get started building Django web applications.

Reference:

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