Custom Vagrant box for jump-starting Django projects using Cookiecutter

Being able to effortlessly bootstrap new Django projects and quickly flesh out ideas is very important. It minimizes the effort spent on configuration minutiae, enabling us to focus on the actual task at hand. Haven’t we all felt drained after a long tooling troubleshooting session, wanting to hit the sack instead of writing beautiful code? Let’s see how to streamline things.

A Vagrant box using Ubuntu

To begin with, we are going to use Vagrant with a minimal Vagrantfile, to specify the details of our virtual machine (using the ubuntu/trusty64 box). Two ports will be forwarded, 8000 for the web server and 35729 for LiveReload.

The rest of the configuration will be delegated to a simple Bash shell script ( to provision a self-contained, local development machine. At the top of the file, a number of variables should be customized for each project:


Provisioning and configuration

We’ll use pyenv and pyenv-virtualenv to compile, install and manage the latest Python and a new virtualenv for our project respectivelly.

For the Django app, Cookiecutter Django will be used. It is an opinionated, production-ready Django project template that readers of Two Scoops of Django are probably familiar with. This should also serve as a practical introduction to Cookiecutter, a command-line utility that creates projects from cookiecutters (project templates) which you can use as a shortcut for any kind of project.

Cookiecutter Django has a number of configuration parameters, usually set interactively. They are available in cookiecutter.json:

Before instantiating your virtual machine, you should configure cookiecutter_options in according to the above. A minimal set of defaults is provided to get you started, with as few dependencies as possible:

    "project_name=My project name"
    "author_name=Your Name"
    "email=Your email"
    "description=A short description of the project."

To wrap things up, we’ll install and configure PostgreSQL and Grunt (to provide automatic Sass/SCSS recompilation and push notifications to the LiveReload browser extension). Finally, we’ll serve the app using Django’s development server.

The provisioning script in its entirety:

Setting off on your own

You can now set off on your own, by cloning the project’s repository and editing

$ git clone
$ cd vagrant-django-cookie-dough
$ vim
$ # Edit domain_name, project_slug, db_user, db_password and cookiecutter_options
$ vagrant up

As soon as the machine is brought up, browse to http://localhost:8000 to see the live website.

Inside the VM, you can find all the things in /srv/www/$domain_name/, which has been mapped locally to the www/$domain_name/ subfolder of the repository. It is in the locally mapped folder that any file editing will take place. If you’ve installed and enabled the LiveReload extension for your browser, the page will automatically be refreshed every time you edit and save a file.

Log files are kept in $domain_name/logs/, capturing the output of the Django development web server and Grunt. If anything goes wrong, you can poke around:

$ vagrant ssh
$ less -S +F /srv/www/$domain_name/logs/runserver.log
$ less -S +F /srv/www/$domain_name/logs/taskrunner.log