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How to Deploy hgwebdir.fcgi behind Nginx with Fab

If you’re managing multiple mercurial repositories, it’s nice to see them all in one place, using a simple web-based repository browser. There’s various ways to publish mercurial repositories, but hgwebdir is the only method that supports multiple repos. Since I prefer fastcgi and nginx, I decided to use hgwebdir.fcgi, which unfortunately isn’t documented on the mercurial wiki.


Let’s start by creating hgweb.config, which tells hgwebdir where the repos are and what the web UI should look like.


base =
style = monoblue

There’s a few different included themes you can choose from, I like the monoblue style. The empty base= line is apparently required to make everything work.


Next, make a copy of hgwebdir.fcgi, which in Ubuntu can be found in /usr/share/doc/mercurial/examples. Below is a simplified version with all comments removed. The one line you may want to change is the path to hgweb.config on the server, but I’ll assume you’ll want it in /etc/mercurial.

from mercurial import demandimport; demandimport.enable()
from mercurial.hgweb.hgwebdir_mod import hgwebdir
from mercurial.hgweb.request import wsgiapplication
from flup.server.fcgi import WSGIServer

def make_web_app():
    return hgwebdir("/etc/mercurial/hgweb.config")



This is a simple nginx fastcgi config you can modify for your own purposes. It forwards all requests for hg.DOMAIN.COM to the hgwebdir.fcgi socket we’ll be starting below.

server {
	listen 80;
	server_name hg;
	server_name hg.DOMAIN.COM;

	access_log /var/log/hg_access.log;
	error_log /var/log/hg_error.log;

	location / {
		fastcgi_pass	unix:/var/run/hgwebdir.sock;
		fastcgi_param	PATH_INFO	$fastcgi_script_name;
		fastcgi_param	QUERY_STRING	$query_string;
		fastcgi_param	REQUEST_METHOD	$request_method;
		fastcgi_param	CONTENT_TYPE	$content_type;
		fastcgi_param	CONTENT_LENGTH	$content_length;
		fastcgi_param	SERVER_PROTOCOL	$server_protocol;
		fastcgi_param	SERVER_PORT	$server_port;
		fastcgi_param	SERVER_NAME	$server_name;

The hg_server.conf file will need a link from /etc/nginx/sites-enabled to its location in /etc/nginx/sites-available, assuming that you’re using the default nginx config which includes every server conf found in /etc/nginx/sites-available.

fab hgweb restart_nginx

To make deployment easy, I use fab, so that if I make any changes to hgweb.config or hg_server.conf, I can simply run fab hgweb restart_nginx. For starting hgwebdir.fcgi, we can use spawn-fcgi, which usually comes with lighttpd, so you’ll need that installed too.

hgweb copies hgweb.config and hgwebdir.fcgi to appropriate locations on the server, then starts the fastcgi process with a socket at /var/run/hgwebdir.sock.

restart_nginx copies hg_server.conf to the server and tells nginx to reload its config.

def hgweb():
    env.runpath = '/var/run'
    put('hgweb.config', '/tmp')
    put('hgwebdir.fcgi', '/tmp')
    sudo('mv /tmp/hgwebdir.fcgi /usr/local/bin/')
    sudo('chmod +x /usr/local/bin/hgwebdir.fcgi')
    sudo('mv /tmp/hgweb.config /etc/mercurial/hgweb.config')
    sudo('kill `cat %s/hgwebdir.pid`' % env.runpath)
    sudo('spawn-fcgi -f /usr/local/bin/hgwebdir.fcgi -s %s/hgwebdir.sock -P %s/hgwebdir.pid' % (env.runpath, env.runpath), user='www-data')

def restart_nginx():
    put('hg_server.conf', '/tmp/')
    sudo('mv /tmp/hg_server.conf /etc/nginx/sites-available/')
    sudo('killall -HUP nginx')

Once you’ve got these commands in your fabfile.py, you can run fab hgweb restart_nginx to deploy.


Now that you’ve got hgwebdir.fcgi running (you can make sure it works by going to http://hg.DOMAIN.COM), you’ll probably want to customize the info about each repo by editing .hg/hgrc.

description = All about my repo
contacts = Me

And that’s it, you should now have a fast web-based browser for multiple repos 🙂

Deploying Django with Mercurial, Fab and Nginx

Writing web apps with Django can be a lot of fun, but deploying them can be a chore, even if you’re using Apache. Here’s a setup I’ve been using that makes deployment fast and easy. This all assumes you’ve got sudo access on a remote server running Ubuntu or something similar.


This setup assumes you’ve got 2 mercurial repositories: 1 on your local machine, and 1 on the remote server you’re deploying to. In the remote repository, add the following to .hg/hgrc

changegroup = hg up

This makes mercurial run hg up whenever you push new code. Then in your local repo’s .hg/hgrc, make sure the default path is to your remote repo. Here’s an example

default = ssh://user@domain.com/repo

Now when you run hg push, you don’t need to include the path to the repo, and your code will be updated immediately.

Django FastCGI Deployment

Since I’m using nginx instead of Apache, we’ll be deploying Django with FastCGI. Here’s an example script you can use to start and restart your Django FastCGI server. Add this script to your mercurial repo as run_fcgi.sh.


# kill current fcgi process if it exists
if [ -f $PIDFILE ]; then
    kill `cat -- $PIDFILE`
    rm -f -- $PIDFILE

python manage.py runfcgi socket=$SOCKET pidfile=$PIDFILE method=prefork

Important note: the FastCGI socket file will need to be readable & writable by nginx worker processes, which run as the www-data user in Ubuntu. This will be handled by the fab restart command below, or you could add chmod a+w $SOCKET to the end of the above script.

Nginx FastCGI Proxy

Nginx is a great high performance web server with simple configuration. Here’s a simple example server config for proxying to your Django FastCGI process. Add this config to your mercurial repo as django.nginx.

server {
    listen 80;
    # change to your FQDN
    server_name YOUR.DOMAIN.COM;

    location / {
        # must be the same socket file as in the above fcgi script
        fastcgi_pass unix:/tmp/django.sock;

On the remote server, make sure the following lines are in the http section of /etc/nginx/nginx.conf

include /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/*;
# fastcgi_params should contain a lot of fastcgi_param variables
include /etc/nginx/fastcgi_params;

You must also make sure there is a link in /etc/nginx/sites-enabled to your django.nginx config. Don’t worry if django.nginx doesn’t exist yet, it will once you run fab nginx the first time.

you@remote.ubuntu$ cd /etc/nginx/sites-enabled
you@remote.ubuntu$ sudo ln -s ../sites-available/django.nginx django.nginx

Python Fabric

Fab, or properly Fabric, is my favorite new tool. It’s designed specifically for making remote deployment simple and easy. You create a fabfile where each function is a fab command that can run remote and sudo commands on one or more remote hosts. So let’s deploy Django using fab. Here’s an example fabfile with 2 commands: restart and nginx. These commands should only be run after you’ve done a hg push.

config.fab_hosts = ['YOUR.DOMAIN.COM']
config.projdir = '/PATH/TO/YOUR/REMOTE/HG/REPO'

def restart():
    sudo('cd %(projdir)s; run_fcgi.sh', user='www-data', fail='abort')

def nginx():
    sudo('cp %(projdir)s/django.nginx /etc/nginx/sites-available/', fail='abort')
    sudo('killall -HUP nginx', fail='abort')

fab restart

You only need to run fab restart if you’ve changed the actual Django python code. Changes to templates or static files don’t require a restart and will be used automatically (because of the hg up changegroup hook). Executing run_fcgi.sh as the www-data user ensures that nginx can read & write the socket.

fab nginx

If you’ve changed your nginx server config, you can run fab nginx to install and reload the new server config without restarting the nginx server.

Wrap Up

Now that everything is setup, the next time you want to deploy some new code, it’s as simple as hg push && fab restart. And if you’ve only changed templates, all you need to do is hg push. I hope this helps make your Django development life easier. It has certainly done so for me 🙂