Deploying a Python app on an AWS production server
with Passenger in Apache mode on Ubuntu 17.10 (with APT)

This page describes the deployment of a Python app, assuming that Passenger was installed through the following operating system configuration or installation method: Ubuntu 17.10 (with APT). Is this not how Passenger was installed? Go back to the operating system / installation method selection menu.

On this page you will learn how you can deploy your app to a server that is running Passenger. You can either follow these instructions with your own app, or you can use the sample Flask app we prepared.

Table of contents

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1 Transferring the app code to the server

1.1 Push your code to a Git repository

If you are using our sample app, you can skip to the next step.

We want to transfer our application's code to the server. The easiest way to do that is via Git.

If you have already setup a Git repository, push your application's code to that repository by running this on your local computer:

$ git push

If you have not already setup a Git repository, go to Github, create a repository and push your application's code there.

1.2 Login to your server, create a user for the app

Login to your server with SSH:

$ ssh -i your_ec2_key.pem

Replace adminuser with the name of an account with administrator privileges or sudo privileges. This is usually admin, ec2-user, root or ubuntu.

Starting from this point, unless stated otherwise, all commands that we instruct you to run should be run on the server, not on your local computer!

Now that you have logged in, you should create an operating system user account for your app. For security reasons, it is a good idea to run each app under its own user account, in order to limit the damage that security vulnerabilities in the app can do. Passenger will automatically run your app under this user account as part of its user account sandboxing feature.

You should give the user account the same name as your app. But for demonstration purposes, this tutorial names the user account myappuser.

$ sudo adduser myappuser

We also ensure that that user has your SSH key installed:

$ sudo mkdir -p ~myappuser/.ssh
$ touch $HOME/.ssh/authorized_keys
$ sudo sh -c "cat $HOME/.ssh/authorized_keys >> ~myappuser/.ssh/authorized_keys"
$ sudo chown -R myappuser: ~myappuser/.ssh
$ sudo chmod 700 ~myappuser/.ssh
$ sudo sh -c "chmod 600 ~myappuser/.ssh/*"

1.3 Install Git on the server

$ sudo apt-get install -y git

1.4 Pull code

You need to pick a location in which to permanently store your application's code. A good location is /var/www/APP_NAME. Let us create that directory.

$ sudo mkdir -p /var/www/myapp
$ sudo chown myappuser: /var/www/myapp

Replace myapp and myappuser with your app's name and your app user account's name.

Now let us pull the code from Git:

$ cd /var/www/myapp
$ sudo -u myappuser -H git clone git:// code

If you are using our sample app, use this Git clone command instead:

$ cd /var/www/myapp
$ sudo -u myappuser -H git clone --branch=end_result code

Your app's code now lives on the server at /var/www/myapp/code.

2 Preparing the app's environment

2.1 Install app dependencies

Your application has various dependencies. They must be installed. Most of these dependencies are Python libraries. A common way to install Python libraries is through pip. For example, if your application depends on Flask:

$ sudo pip install flask

Your app may also depend on services, such as PostgreSQL, Redis, etc. Installing services that your app depends on is outside of this tutorial's scope.

3 Configuring Apache and Passenger

Now that you are done with transferring your app's code to the server and setting up an environment for your app, it is time to configure Apache so that Passenger knows how to serve your app.

3.1 Edit Apache configuration file

We need to create an Apache configuration file and setup a virtual host entry that points to your app. This virtual host entry tells Apache (and Passenger) where your app is located.

$ sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/myapp.conf

Replace myapp with your app's name.

Put this inside the file:

<VirtualHost *:80>

    # Tell Apache and Passenger where your app's code directory is
    DocumentRoot /var/www/myapp/code/public
    PassengerAppRoot /var/www/myapp/code

    # Tell Passenger that your app is a Python app
    PassengerAppType wsgi

    # Relax Apache security settings
    <Directory /var/www/myapp/code/public>
      Allow from all
      Options -MultiViews
      # Uncomment this if you're on Apache >= 2.4:
      #Require all granted

Replace with your server's host name, replace /var/www/myapp/code with your application's code directory path and replace with your app's WSGI entry point file.

When you are done, restart Apache:

$ sudo apache2ctl restart

3.2 Test drive

You should now be able to access your app through the server's host name! Try running this from your local computer. Replace with your server's hostname, exactly as it appears in the Apache config file's ServerName directive.

$ curl
...your app's front page HTML...

If you do not see your app's front page HTML, then these are the most likely causes:

  1. You did not correctly configure your ServerName directive. The ServerName must exactly match the host name in the URL. For example, if you use the command curl to access your app, then the ServerName must be
  2. You did not setup DNS records. Setting up DNS is outside the scope of this tutorial. In the mean time, we recommend that you use your server's IP address as the server name.

Next step

Congratulations, you have successfully deployed your app!

Continue: Deploying updates »