Installing Django featured image

Installing the Django Web Framework on Ubuntu 20.04

Django is a high-level web framework that allows the rapid development of secure and maintainable websites. It’s a free and open-source framework written with Python. Django is also popular for additional features like performance, security, scalability, portability, and maintainability.

This guide will demonstrate how to install Django and set up a simple web app on Ubuntu 20.04.

Django on Ubuntu

There are multiple ways of installing Django on the system. Each method suits a different goal.

  • Global installation: Django is readily available from the official Ubuntu package repos. We can install it directly using the APT package manager. While the installation method is simple, it offers less flexibility than other methods. Moreover, it may not contain the latest version of the framework.
  • Installing using pip in a virtual environment: Using tools like venv and virtualenv, we can establish a virtual environment and install Django there. The benefit of this approach is, it doesn’t affect the larger system. It also allows per-project customization and packages. It’s the most practical and recommended method of working with Django.
  • Installing Django development version: Django is also available on GitHub. The latest development version will have the latest features/fixes. However, it comes at the cost of potential performance and stability issues.

This guide expects you to have a properly configured Ubuntu server. If you don’t have an Ubuntu server yet you can follow our guide on how to set up your own Ubuntu server.

Installing Django on Ubuntu

1. Global installation using the package manager

Django is readily available from the official package repos. The installation process is quite straightforward. First, update the APT package index:

Next, check the version of Python installed. By default, Ubuntu 20.04 ships with Python 3.8:

Now, we’re ready to install Django:

We can verify if the installation was successful. Run the following command to check the Django version:

django-admin

It verifies that Django is successfully installed. Note that the Django version isn’t the latest stable release. At the time of writing, the latest version of Django available is v3.2.5 (LTS release).

2. Installing Django with pip (in a virtual environment)

This is the recommended way of installing Django because it has the most flexibility. We will generate the virtual environment using the venv module that comes as a part of the Python 3 standard library. It lets you create virtual Python environments and install Python packages without causing changes elsewhere in the system. You can have numerous virtual environments with unique configurations.

Let’s get started. First, we need the Python pip and venv modules:

The modules are installed successfully. Now, we will create a dedicated directory for the virtual environment:

Next, change the active directory to the new directory:

Now, we can tell venv to establish a virtual environment within the directory. As for the environment name, it should be something descriptive:

The venv module will create a copy of Python and pip into an isolated directory structure within the project directory. It will contain a directory with the name selected that contains the file hierarchy where all the packages are installed.

To install additional packages, we need to activate the environment:

The shell prompt should change to something like this:

sample_project

Within the virtual environment, we can now install Django:

Verify if the installation was successful:

To leave the virtual environment, run the following command:

deactivate

3. Installing Django development version

The Django development version is directly available on GitHub. We’ll be using git to clone and deploy it within a virtual environment.

First, ensure that we have the necessary tools installed. The following command will install venv and pip (Python modules) and git:

Next, clone the Django repo. It will contain all the latest features and bug fixes (at the expense of stability). We’ll clone it to a directory ~/django-dev:

Change the current directory to the cloned repo:

After that, establish a virtual environment using Python venv module:

Then, activate the virtual environment:

Now, we can install the Django we cloned from GitHub. Here, the flag -e refers to the “editable” mode to allow installation from version control:

Finally, verify the installation:

django-admin --version

Sample Django Project

So far, we have demonstrated how to install Django on the system. Now, it’s time to put Django into action. In this section, we’ll demonstrate how to create a sample Django project. The sample project will be created within a virtual environment.

Create a directory for the sample project:

Change the current directory to the project directory:

Then, use the venv module to establish a Python virtual environment:

The virtual environment is ready. Activate the environment:

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We can install Django within the environment:

We can use django-admin to build the project base. Here, the sample project will be named sampleproject. The project will have a directory within the environment directory that includes all the necessary files.

  • manage.py: A management script that administers various Django-specific tasks.
  • sample project: A directory with the project name that contains actual project code.

However, we don’t want a cobweb of too many nested directories. Thus, tell Django to place the files and directories in the current directory:

sampleproject

The next step is migrating the database. By default, Django uses SQLite. Migrations apply any changes made to the Django models to the database schema. Run the following command to migrate the database:

Finally, we’ll establish an admin user to use the Django admin interface. Run the following command:

It will ask for a username, an email address, and a password for the user.

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ALLOWED_HOSTS in Django Settings

To test the application, we need to modify a certain directive in Django settings. Open the settings.py file in a text editor:

We’re interested in the directive ALLOWED_HOSTS. It describes a list of addresses or domain names that can connect to the Django instance. Any incoming host request from a host that’s not on the list will raise an exception. It’s required by Django to prevent certain classes of security vulnerabilities.

Within the square bracket, list the IP addresses or domain names associated with the Django server. Each item will be listed in quotations, separated by a comma (,). Here’s how the structure of the directive would look like:

ALLOWED_HOSTS

Save the list and close the editor.

Testing the Server

We can now start the Django deployment server. It will present a fresh Django project. Note that it should only be used for development purposes. For full-fledged deployment, follow the official Django guide on deployment.

Before accessing the development server, ensure that the firewall allows access to port 8000. If you follow the Ubuntu server setup guide, then tell UFW to open port 8000 for communication:

sudo

UFW is a common firewall available on all the major Linux distros. Here is a guide explaining various basics of UFW. The development server is now ready to run. Start the server:

python manage.py runserver

Next, visit the server’s IP address on port 8000 in a web browser. It will land on the Django welcome page:

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To access the Django admin panel, append /admin/ at the end of the URL:

Enter the admin username and password to access the admin section:

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You can stop the server by pressing CTRL-C in the terminal.

Final Thoughts

The Django project offers a structural basis for designing a more complete site. It provides the main tools needed to power a web application. Leveraging a web framework like Django allows you faster project development and spending more time on the unique aspects of your application.

Happy Computing!

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