How to run a local project in live configuration

The Local, Test and Live server environments are as identical as possible, to help guarantee that your applications will run in just the same way across all of them.

However, there are a few differences. See Default project conditions for the default configuration in each environment.

Occasionally, you may wish to run the local server in a configuration closer to the live set-up. A few steps are needed to achieve this. You may not need to take all of these steps - it depends which aspects of the environment matter in your particular case.

Build the project

Build the project in the normal way (docker-compose build web) if there have been any changes to it.

Isolate the container’s file system from your own

The default volumes configuration in the docker-compose.yml file overwrites directories inside the container with directories from your own file system:

  - ".:/app:rw"         # overwrites /app with the entire project directory
  - "./data:/data:rw"   # overwrites /data with the entire data directory

This is useful for development purposes, because it allows you to make changes on your filesystem such as code changes and have them immediately reflected inside the container. Additionally, it allows media files (which are not included in the image) that you pull to your local environment to be made available inside the container at /data.

However, it does overwrite any files in either of these locations that belong to the image, inside the container, each time a container is launched using docker-compose.

This does not occur in cloud deployments, so you will often want to prevent this when running a local project in live configuration.

For example, our Aldryn Django Dockerfile contains a collectstatic command that collects static files at /static_collected in the image. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter that these are overwritten in the local environment container, because by default it runs Django in DEBUG mode and serves the files from the installed packages. To run in the same conditions as on the cloud, these files need to be served from the /static_collected directory that was created by the image, so that needs to be available.

Comment out the line:

- ".:/app:rw"

in order to protect the image’s files from being overwritten in the container.

(Note that once you do this, you can no longer amend files inside the container by making changes on your files system.)

Ensure the application runs in a production configuration

Your application may run in a different configuration in different environments.

The STAGE environment variable in the file .env-local provides the application with information about the environment. Use:


There may be specific environment variables that also need to be checked. For example, Aldryn Django projects run in DEBUG mode locally, in which case you’d also need:


Run the migrate command

Migration commands, also known as release commands, are run during deployment after the image build has completed successfully. They are not run automatically locally, but you can execute them with:

docker-compose run --rm web start migrate

(In an Aldryn Django project, you can see these commands listed in the MIGRATION_COMMANDS setting, populated by applications using the addons framework).

Use the cloud media storage rather than local file storage

Your local project will use local file storage rather than the cloud storage. Cloud media files are pulled to the local environment when you run divio project setup (or later, divio project pull media). Usually this is most appropriate for development, and also faster and more convenient than using the remote cloud storage. However, sometimes you might want to use the cloud storage when the application is running locally.

Aldryn Django will use the DEFAULT_STORAGE_DSN environment variable to configure storage. This is provided in all cloud environments (each environment gets its own value). If the variable is not present, Aldryn Django will revert to using FileSystemStorage (Django’s default), which is what happens locally.

In order to use the cloud storage instead, find the value of DEFAULT_STORAGE_DSN using the divio project env-vars command, and add the variable to the .env-local file. The next time you start the container, it will use the cloud storage.

Use the cloud database rather than a local instance

Your project uses our database cluster on the cloud. Locally, it sets up the same database in its own container.

The databases for our public regions are not accessible except from containers running on our own infrastructure, for security reasons. Access can be made possible for databases on private clusters only.

Use the production web server

The docker-compose.yml file launches your website, but doesn’t necessarily do it the way it would be launched on the cloud. For example, in Aldryn Django projects, it uses the Django runserver command, whereas the cloud environments use uWSGI.

To the production web server (using uWSGI, and serving static files) rather than the Django runserver, change:

command: python runserver


command: start web

With other project types, you will need to amend the command suitably.

The local server will now be running in a configuration much closer to that of the live project.