4. Install Django

Django is used for conducting class surveys.

  1. Start the virtual machine and log in:

    ssh -p 8015 hjc@dynamicshjc.case.edu
  2. Check for and install system updates on the virtual machine:

    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
    sudo apt-get autoremove
  3. Install these new packages,

    Package Description
    python-pip Alternative Python package installer
    python-mysqldb Python interface to MySQL
    python-ldap LDAP interface module for Python
    python-imaging Python Imaging Library
    python-docutils Text processing system for reStructuredText
    libapache2-mod-wsgi Python WSGI adapter module for Apache

    using the following:

    sudo apt-get install python-pip python-mysqldb python-ldap python-imaging python-docutils libapache2-mod-wsgi
    sudo pip install --upgrade pip
  4. Install the latest version of Django with long term support (LTS) [1].

    LTS versions of Django receive guaranteed support (e.g., security updates) for at least 3 years, although these updates must be applied manually (see Updating Django). As of August 2016, the latest LTS version is Django 1.8.14, which will be supported until at least April 2018. The next LTS release should be available in April 2017.

    Run this command to install Django:

    sudo pip install Django==1.8.14
  5. Install django-cas-ng to allow integration between the Django site and the CWRU login servers:

    sudo pip install django-cas-ng==3.5.4
  6. Download our code for implementing our Django site—called CourseDjango—to the virtual machine (you will be asked for your password for DynamicsHJC):

    git clone ssh://dynamicshjc.case.edu/~kms15/gitshare/CourseDjango.git /var/www/django
  7. Store the database password and a random “secret key” (which you do not need to write down) in a file accessible to Django:

    read -s -r -p "MySQL password: " DBPASS && echo "db_password = '$DBPASS'" > /var/www/django/CourseDjango/passwords.py; DBPASS= ; echo
    echo "secret_key  = '$(openssl rand -hex 32)'" >> /var/www/django/CourseDjango/passwords.py

    Protect the file:

    sudo chmod ug=rw,o= /var/www/django/CourseDjango/passwords.py*
  8. Export the survey forms from last semester’s Django database. Surveys for both BIOL 373 and BIOL 300 are contained in a single database. You should export from last semester’s BIOL 300 server because modifications to any surveys need to be preserved for future offerings of both courses.

    Run the following commands to export the survey forms (you will be asked to accept the unrecognized fingerprint for the BIOL 300 server – this is expected – and you will need to enter your password for the BIOL 300 server three times):

    ssh hjc@biol300.case.edu "/var/www/django/manage.py dumpsurveyforms > ~/surveyforms.json"
    scp hjc@biol300.case.edu:surveyforms.json ~/
    ssh hjc@biol300.case.edu "rm ~/surveyforms.json"
  9. Create the Django database, import the survey forms, and delete the exported survey forms file since it is no longer needed and contains the answers to quiz questions (enter the <MySQL password> when prompted):

    echo "CREATE DATABASE djangodb;" | mysql -u root -p
    /var/www/django/manage.py migrate
    /var/www/django/manage.py loaddata ~/surveyforms.json
    rm ~/surveyforms.json
  10. Place static assets (CSS, JS, image files) used by the Django site (student-facing and admin) in a directory that can be served by Apache:

    mkdir -p /var/www/html/django/static
    /var/www/django/manage.py collectstatic --noinput --clear
  11. Give the web server ownership of and access to the new files:

    sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/
    sudo chmod -R ug+rw /var/www/
  12. Download and install a custom Apache configuration file for Django:

    sudo wget -O /etc/apache2/conf-available/django.conf https://neurowiki-docs.readthedocs.io/en/latest/_downloads/django.conf
    sudo a2enconf django
    sudo apache2ctl restart

    If you are curious about the contents of django.conf, you can view it here:


    Direct link

    # Run Django in daemon mode and add the CourseDjango project to the Python path
    WSGIDaemonProcess django-daemon python-path=/var/www/django
    WSGIProcessGroup django-daemon
    # Allow access to the Django site
    WSGIScriptAlias /django /var/www/django/CourseDjango/wsgi.py
    <Directory "/var/www/django/CourseDjango">
        <Files wsgi.py>
            Require all granted
    # Bypass the WSGIScriptAlias for static items (CSS, JS, images)
    Alias /django/static /var/www/html/django/static
    # Alias needed for django-cas to work
    WSGIScriptAlias /django/accounts /var/www/django/CourseDjango/wsgi.py
    # vim: syntax=apache ts=4 sw=4 sts=4 sr noet
  13. Log into the Django site to automatically create an account for yourself. Visit

  14. Edit the Django database to make yourself an administrator. Access the database:

    mysql -u root -p djangodb

    Enter the <MySQL password> when prompted. Execute these SQL commands:

    UPDATE auth_user SET is_superuser=1 WHERE username='hjc';
    UPDATE auth_user SET is_staff=1 WHERE username='hjc';

    Type exit to quit.

  15. The Django administration tools are now accessible at

    You should promote Jeff and any other TAs to superuser and staff status using this interface after they log into the Django site for the first time, which will create their accounts.

  16. Shut down the virtual machine:

    sudo shutdown -h now
  17. Using VirtualBox, take a snapshot of the current state of the virtual machine. Name it “Django installed”.


[1]You can visit this page to see the release schedule for LTS versions of Django.