Running Django on Mac

These are semi-detailed steps for installing all the bits to host a Django application on Mac OS X. Tested on 10.5, should work perfectly on 10.6.

Use MacPorts: relatively easy to install and the best thing is everything is contained in a directory that you can be confident won’t eff up Apple’s stuff and won’t be effed up by Apple’s stuff.

Install Xcode

You need the compiler and bits that are installed with Xcode. If you can’t find your Mac install discs (Xcode is included with every new Mac but not installed) you can download it from Apple’s developer website. Registration is required but is free.

The current version of Xcode is easy to find, while older versions are available in the downloads section under “Developer Tools”. Xcode version 3.1.4 is the last version that will work for Mac OS X 10.5 systems.

Install MacPorts

MacPorts have a nice pkg installer. You can also build it from source.

curl -O
hdiutil attach MacPorts-1.9.1-10.5-Leopard.dmg
sudo installer -pkg /Volumes/MacPorts-1.9.1/MacPorts-1.9.1.pkg -target /
hdiutil detach /Volumes/MacPorts-1.9.1

If for some reason MacPorts cannot fetch updates you may need to pull updates by hand.

Check your $PATH after installing ports to make sure /opt/local/bin is in there. If it isn’t your can do export PATH=/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:${PATH} to fix things, and even add taht line to ~/.profile so that bash picks it up every time (assuming you haven’t switched your shell).

Install software

The port command is used to manipulate the MacPorts installation. Use it to build and install the various bits we need. This takes a while, especially on old PowerPC machines. Make it more exciting by adding the --verbose flag. Exciting!

sudo port install python26
sudo port install apache2
sudo port install mysql5-server
sudo port install mod_python26
sudo port install py26-mysql
sudo port install py26-django
sudo port install py26-south

And if you want to hook Django into a network directory then you almost certainly want to use LDAP.

sudo port install py26-ldap

Cool kids these days say use mod_wsgi instead of mod_python for hosting Python applications with Apache, but I am not cool (and on 20 September 2010 I couldn’t persuade mod_wsgi to build from MacPorts on a clean installation).

Configuring and starting MySQL

UPDATED: commenter matea pointed to Jason Rowland’s MySQL on Mac posting that includes steps to secure a default installation, so I’ve updated this section with the appropriate steps.

I always seem to be the only person who cares about non-English visitors… anyway, so I want to have MySQL use UTF8 for everything. Edit the configuration so it does. As root, create a configuration at /opt/local/var/db/mysql5/my.cnf with these lines:

init-connect = 'SET NAMES utf8'
character-set-server = utf8
collation-server = utf8_general_ci

default-character-set = utf8

One thing about the line skip-networking in the configuration file is that it means MySQL will not listen to any network clients, including connections to Instead clients should connect to localhost or they should specify the path to the socket that MySQL uses for communication. If your MySQL “client” is a Django instance running on the same host then that should not be a problem.

Now initialize the database and start the server. (The use of -w in the second line tells launchctl to have the database daemon start at boot. If you don’t want to have MySQL running at boot use -F to force start just this one time instead of every time.)

sudo -u mysql /opt/local/bin/mysql_install_db5
sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.macports.mysql5.plist

And let’s check that the server is up and configured right.

/opt/local/bin/mysql5 -e "SHOW variables LIKE '%char%'"

You should see a table showing that the character set for the client and server is set to utf8.

Now run the secure installation script for MySQL. This will ask you to set a password for MySQL’s root account (the administrator) and ask whether to remove the test database and anonymous user access (you should do both):


Thaz better.

Configuring Postgresql instead of MySQL

If you want to use Postgres instead of MySQL then you need a couple different packages out of ports.

sudo port install postgresql84-server
sudo port install py26-psycopg2

Did you know Apple’s management tools use Postgres? Is true.

Configuring Apache to serve a Django project

Let’s suppose your Django project lives under /Library/WebServer/, and the project’s settings file is /Library/WebServer/ Here’s how to configure Apache with mod_python to serve your project.

Create a separate site configuration for Apache in /Library/WebServer/

<Location "/">
    SetHandler python-program
    PythonHandler django.core.handlers.modpython
    SetEnv DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE myproj.settings
    PythonOption django.root /
    PythonDebug On
    PythonPath "['/Library/WebServer/'] + sys.path"

<Directory /Library/WebServer/>
    Order deny,allow
    Allow from all

Of course once everything is hunky dory you will go back and edit the site configuration so that PythonDebug Off.

And finally tell Apache to use mod_python and read the site configuration. Edit /opt/local/apache2/conf/httpd.conf and add a line at the end of the modules like:

LoadModule python_module modules/

And then a line like:

Include /Library/WebServer/

Now fire up Apache:

sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.macports.apache2.plist

MacPorts has a convenient shortcut for this:

sudo port load apache2

You also want to save Apache a little grief by pre-compiling the Python source files for the project:

/opt/local/bin/python2.6 -m compileall /Library/WebServer/

Hope this helps.

6 thoughts on “Running Django on Mac

  1. ravi j

    /Libary/LaunchDaemons/org.macports.mysql5.plist ^^^^^ Minor typo the “r” is missing in Library

  2. ravi j

    sudo port selfupdate sudo port install python26 sudo port install python_select sudo python_select python26

    The above fixed the problem. I dont know what caused it . Most likely the MAC version of python was being picked up by django instead of the macport

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