Deploying a Django application to Elastic Beanstalk - AWS Elastic Beanstalk

Deploying a Django application to Elastic Beanstalk

This tutorial walks through the deployment of a default, autogenerated Django website to an AWS Elastic Beanstalk environment running Python. This tutorial shows you how to host a Python web app in the cloud by using an Elastic Beanstalk environment.

In this tutorial, you’ll do the following:


To use any AWS service, including Elastic Beanstalk, you need to have an AWS account and credentials. To learn more and to sign up, visit

To follow this tutorial, you should have all of the Common Prerequisites for Python installed, including the following packages:

  • Python 3.7 or later

  • pip

  • virtualenv

  • awsebcli

The Django framework is installed as part of the tutorial.


Creating environments with the EB CLI requires a service role. You can create a service role by creating an environment in the Elastic Beanstalk console. If you don't have a service role, the EB CLI attempts to create one when you run eb create.

Set up a Python virtual environment and install Django

Create a virtual environment with virtualenv and use it to install Django and its dependencies. By using a virtual environment, you can know exactly which packages your application needs, so that the required packages are installed on the Amazon EC2 instances that are running your application.

The following steps demonstrate the commands you must enter for Unix-based systems and Windows, shown on separate tabs.

To set up your virtual environment
  1. Create a virtual environment named eb-virt.

    Unix-based systems
    ~$ virtualenv ~/eb-virt
    C:\> virtualenv %HOMEPATH%\eb-virt
  2. Activate the virtual environment.

    Unix-based systems
    ~$ source ~/eb-virt/bin/activate (eb-virt) ~$
    C:\>%HOMEPATH%\eb-virt\Scripts\activate (eb-virt) C:\>

    You'll see (eb-virt) prepended to your command prompt, indicating that you're in a virtual environment.


    The rest of these instructions show the Linux command prompt in your home directory ~$. On Windows this is C:\Users\USERNAME>, where USERNAME is your Windows login name.

  3. Use pip to install Django.

    (eb-virt)~$ pip install django==2.2

    The Django version you install must be compatible with the Python version on the Elastic Beanstalk Python configuration that you choose for deploying your application. For information about deployment, see Deploy your site with the EB CLI in this topic.

    For more information about current Python platform versions, see Python in the AWS Elastic Beanstalk Platforms document.

    For Django version compatibility with Python, see What Python version can I use with Django?

  4. To verify that Django is installed, enter the following.

    (eb-virt)~$ pip freeze Django==2.2 ...

    This command lists all of the packages installed in your virtual environment. Later, you use the output of this command to configure your project for use with Elastic Beanstalk.

Create a Django project

Now you are ready to create a Django project and run it on your machine, using the virtual environment.


This tutorial uses SQLite, which is a database engine included in Python. The database is deployed with your project files. For production environments, we recommend that you use Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), and that you separate it from your environment. For more information, see Adding an Amazon RDS DB instance to your Python application environment.

To generate a Django application
  1. Activate your virtual environment.

    Unix-based systems
    ~$ source ~/eb-virt/bin/activate (eb-virt) ~$
    C:\>%HOMEPATH%\eb-virt\Scripts\activate (eb-virt) C:\>

    You'll see the (eb-virt) prefix prepended to your command prompt, indicating that you're in a virtual environment.


    The rest of these instructions show the Linux command prompt ~$ in your home directory and the Linux home directory ~/. On Windows these are C:\Users\USERNAME>, where USERNAME is your Windows login name.

  2. Use the django-admin startproject command to create a Django project named ebdjango.

    (eb-virt)~$ django-admin startproject ebdjango

    This command creates a standard Django site named ebdjango with the following directory structure.

    ~/ebdjango |-- ebdjango | |-- | |-- | |-- | `-- `--
  3. Run your Django site locally with runserver.

    (eb-virt) ~$ cd ebdjango
    (eb-virt) ~/ebdjango$ python runserver
  4. In a web browser, open to view the site.

  5. Check the server log to see the output from your request. To stop the web server and return to your virtual environment, press Ctrl+C.

    Django version 2.2, using settings 'ebdjango.settings' Starting development server at Quit the server with CONTROL-C. [07/Sep/2018 20:14:09] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 16348 Ctrl+C

Configure your Django application for Elastic Beanstalk

Now that you have a Django-powered site on your local machine, you can configure it for deployment with Elastic Beanstalk.

By default, Elastic Beanstalk looks for a file named to start your application. Because this doesn't exist in the Django project that you've created, you need to make some adjustments to your application's environment. You also must set environment variables so that your application's modules can be loaded.

To configure your site for Elastic Beanstalk
  1. Activate your virtual environment.

    Unix-based systems
    ~/ebdjango$ source ~/eb-virt/bin/activate
  2. Run pip freeze, and then save the output to a file named requirements.txt.

    (eb-virt) ~/ebdjango$ pip freeze > requirements.txt

    Elastic Beanstalk uses requirements.txt to determine which package to install on the EC2 instances that run your application.

  3. Create a directory named .ebextensions.

    (eb-virt) ~/ebdjango$ mkdir .ebextensions
  4. In the .ebextensions directory, add a configuration file named django.config with the following text.

    Example ~/ebdjango/.ebextensions/django.config
    option_settings: aws:elasticbeanstalk:container:python: WSGIPath: ebdjango.wsgi:application

    This setting, WSGIPath, specifies the location of the WSGI script that Elastic Beanstalk uses to start your application.


    If you're using an Amazon Linux AMI Python platform version (preceding Amazon Linux 2), replace the value for WSGIPath with ebdjango/ The value in the example works with the Gunicorn WSGI server, which isn't supported on Amazon Linux AMI platform versions.

  5. Deactivate your virtual environment with the deactivate command.

    (eb-virt) ~/ebdjango$ deactivate

    Reactivate your virtual environment whenever you need to add packages to your application or run your application locally.

Deploy your site with the EB CLI

You've added everything you need to deploy your application on Elastic Beanstalk. Your project directory should now look like this.

~/ebdjango/ |-- .ebextensions | `-- django.config |-- ebdjango | |-- | |-- | |-- | `-- |-- db.sqlite3 |-- `-- requirements.txt

Next, you'll create your application environment and deploy your configured application with Elastic Beanstalk.

Immediately after deployment, you'll edit Django's configuration to add the domain name that Elastic Beanstalk assigned to your application to Django's ALLOWED_HOSTS. Then you'll redeploy your application. This is a Django security requirement, designed to prevent HTTP Host header attacks. For more information, see Host header validation.

To create an environment and deploy your Django application

This tutorial uses the EB CLI as a deployment mechanism, but you can also use the Elastic Beanstalk console to deploy a .zip file containing your project's contents.

  1. Initialize your EB CLI repository with the eb init command.

    ~/ebdjango$ eb init -p python-3.7 django-tutorial Application django-tutorial has been created.

    This command creates an application named django-tutorial. It also configures your local repository to create environments with the latest Python 3.7 platform version.

  2. (Optional) Run eb init again to configure a default key pair so that you can use SSH to connect to the EC2 instance running your application.

    ~/ebdjango$ eb init Do you want to set up SSH for your instances? (y/n): y Select a keypair. 1) my-keypair 2) [ Create new KeyPair ]

    Select a key pair if you have one already, or follow the prompts to create one. If you don't see the prompt or need to change your settings later, run eb init -i.

  3. Create an environment and deploy your application to it with eb create.

    ~/ebdjango$ eb create django-env

    If you see a "service role required" error message, run eb create interactively (without specifying an environment name) and the EB CLI creates the role for you.

    This command creates a load-balanced Elastic Beanstalk environment named django-env. Creating an environment takes about 5 minutes. As Elastic Beanstalk creates the resources needed to run your application, it outputs informational messages that the EB CLI relays to your terminal.

  4. When the environment creation process completes, find the domain name of your new environment by running eb status.

    ~/ebdjango$ eb status Environment details for: django-env Application name: django-tutorial ... CNAME: ...

    Your environment's domain name is the value of the CNAME property.

  5. Open the file in the ebdjango directory. Locate the ALLOWED_HOSTS setting, and then add your application's domain name that you found in the previous step to the setting's value. If you can't find this setting in the file, add it to a new line.

    ... ALLOWED_HOSTS = ['']
  6. Save the file, and then deploy your application by running eb deploy. When you run eb deploy, the EB CLI bundles up the contents of your project directory and deploys it to your environment.

    ~/ebdjango$ eb deploy

    If you are using Git with your project, see Using the EB CLI with Git.

  7. When the environment update process completes, open your website with eb open.

    ~/ebdjango$ eb open

    This opens a browser window using the domain name created for your application. You should see the same Django website that you created and tested locally.

If you don't see your application running, or get an error message, see Troubleshooting deployments for help with how to determine the cause of the error.

If you do see your application running, then congratulations, you've deployed your first Django application with Elastic Beanstalk!

Update your application

Now that you have a running application on Elastic Beanstalk, you can update and redeploy your application or its configuration, and Elastic Beanstalk does the work of updating your instances and starting your new application version.

For this example, we'll enable Django's admin console and configure a few other settings.

Modify your site settings

By default, your Django website uses the UTC time zone to display time. You can change this by specifying a time zone in

To change your site's time zone
  1. Modify the TIME_ZONE setting in

    Example ~/ebdjango/ebdjango/
    ... # Internationalization LANGUAGE_CODE = 'en-us' TIME_ZONE = 'US/Pacific' USE_I18N = True USE_L10N = True USE_TZ = True

    For a list of time zones, visit this page.

  2. Deploy the application to your Elastic Beanstalk environment.

    ~/ebdjango/$ eb deploy

Create a site administrator

You can create a site administrator for your Django application to access the admin console directly from the website. Administrator login details are stored securely in the local database image included in the default project that Django generates.

To create a site administrator
  1. Initialize your Django application's local database.

    (eb-virt) ~/ebdjango$ python migrate Operations to perform: Apply all migrations: admin, auth, contenttypes, sessions Running migrations: Applying contenttypes.0001_initial... OK Applying auth.0001_initial... OK Applying admin.0001_initial... OK Applying admin.0002_logentry_remove_auto_add... OK Applying admin.0003_logentry_add_action_flag_choices... OK Applying contenttypes.0002_remove_content_type_name... OK Applying auth.0002_alter_permission_name_max_length... OK Applying auth.0003_alter_user_email_max_length... OK Applying auth.0004_alter_user_username_opts... OK Applying auth.0005_alter_user_last_login_null... OK Applying auth.0006_require_contenttypes_0002... OK Applying auth.0007_alter_validators_add_error_messages... OK Applying auth.0008_alter_user_username_max_length... OK Applying auth.0009_alter_user_last_name_max_length... OK Applying sessions.0001_initial... OK
  2. Run createsuperuser to create an administrator.

    (eb-virt) ~/ebdjango$ python createsuperuser Username: admin Email address: Password: ******** Password (again): ******** Superuser created successfully.
  3. To tell Django where to store static files, define STATIC_ROOT in

    Example ~/ebdjango/ebdjango/
    # Static files (CSS, JavaScript, Images) # STATIC_URL = '/static/' STATIC_ROOT = 'static'
  4. Run collectstatic to populate the static directory with static assets (JavaScript, CSS, and images) for the admin site.

    (eb-virt) ~/ebdjango$ python collectstatic 119 static files copied to ~/ebdjango/static
  5. Deploy your application.

    ~/ebdjango$ eb deploy
  6. View the admin console by opening the site in your browser, appending /admin/ to the site URL, such as the following.
    Enter the username and password you created in step 2 to log in to the admin console.
  7. Log in with the username and password that you configured in step 2.

    The Django administration console for your Django website deployed with Elastic Beanstalk

You can use a similar procedure of local updating/testing followed by eb deploy. Elastic Beanstalk does the work of updating your live servers, so you can focus on application development instead of server administration!

Add a database migration configuration file

You can add commands to your .ebextensions script that are run when your site is updated. This enables you to automatically generate database migrations.

To add a migrate step when your application is deployed
  1. Create a configuration file named db-migrate.config with the following content.

    Example ~/ebdjango/.ebextensions/db-migrate.config
    container_commands: 01_migrate: command: "source /var/app/venv/*/bin/activate && python3 migrate" leader_only: true option_settings: aws:elasticbeanstalk:application:environment: DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE: ebdjango.settings

    This configuration file activates the server's virtual environment and runs the migrate command during the deployment process, before starting your application. Because it runs before the application starts, you must also configure the DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE environment variable explicitly (usually takes care of this for you during startup). Specifying leader_only: true in the command ensures that it is run only once when you're deploying to multiple instances.

  2. Deploy your application.

    ~/ebdjango$ eb deploy

Clean up

To save instance hours and other AWS resources between development sessions, terminate your Elastic Beanstalk environment with eb terminate.

~/ebdjango$ eb terminate django-env

This command terminates the environment and all of the AWS resources that run within it. It doesn't delete the application, however, so you can always create more environments with the same configuration by running eb create again. For more information on EB CLI commands, see Managing Elastic Beanstalk environments with the EB CLI.

If you're done with the sample application, you can also remove the project folder and virtual environment.

~$ rm -rf ~/eb-virt ~$ rm -rf ~/ebdjango

Next steps

For more information about Django, including an in-depth tutorial, see the official documentation.

If you want to try out another Python web framework, check out Deploying a Flask application to Elastic Beanstalk.