Django installation gotchas


In this blog I have earlier declared my love for both CodeIgniter and WordPress, but I am very unfaithful when it comes to frameworks and programming tools, so now I am testing out the Python framework Django instead (but I am still a newbie). It’s my experiences with Google App Engine that lead me into the Python/Django world, and when I am now considering what framework to use for an upcoming big project Django is definitly on the shortlist. It will not be a Google App Engine project due to that some of the limitations of that platform makes it a bad fit for the project in question, so it would be my first standalone Django project. So far I have only installed all the stuff I need and got it to play nicely together, but that was a real learning experience in itself, and by sharing it in this post I hope to save some other fellow geek some time and peace of mind.

Before getting started I want to thank Alexis Bellido at for his patients with my Django questions, check out his post Django questions and answers with a Swedish guy for some more info on Django setup (if you didnt figure it out I am that Swedish guy).

Installation guides
When I set up Django locally I wanted to make my local development environment as similar to a production environment as possible, it will hopefully make production deployment easier down the line. To do this I am running Python 2.5, Django 1.0, PostgreSQL 8.3 (and thus the neccessary python driver psycopg2) and mod_python on Apache. There are some good installation guides out there, so setting up this stuff was mostly a walk in the park, check out the install guide in the Django Book, the quick install guide at Django Project or the install guide at WebMonkey. Of course there are some gotchas that took me quite some time to figure out…

Uninstall old versions of Django
Before getting started I already had Django 0.96 installed, and I  just installed Django 1.0 over it assuming that it was going to replace the old version. I was wrong and when I tried to run my new Django installation I got errors like “NameError: name ‘url’ is not defined” and “ImportError: cannot import name WEEKDAYS_ABBR” – neither which made much sense to me. It turns out that if you do not uninstall an old Django installation first you get a mix of new and old Django files, and that just do not work very well. So take care to acctually read and follow the instructions at Remove any old versions of Django.

Use the right version of the db driver (duh!)
To get the PostgreSQL working correctly with your Python install you have to use a version of the driver Psycopg2 that matches both your Python version and your Apache version, otherwise things just do not work and you do not really get a helpful error message. You can get the window versions of Psycopg2 here.

Configure Apache for mod_python
Once Django and Apache are installed you can create your new Django project (via startproject myNewProject) where Apache can find it (in htdocs for example). To be able to use Apache as your webserver you also need to install and configure mod_python. Installing is straight forward (see the install gudies above for more info), but configuring Apache took me some time. You need to edit httpd.conf and add the following to the end of the file:

<Location "/myNewProject">
SetHandler python-program
PythonHandler django.core.handlers.modpython
PythonOption django.root /myNewProject
PythonDebug On
PythonPath "['C:\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache2\htdocs\myNewProject'] + sys.path"

myNewProject is of course the name of your own Django project.

Hopefully this is of use to someone other than me, if not, then at least I have my notes organised for the next time. If I have missed anything or gotten anything wrong I would very much appreciate your feedback!