Serving Arches with Apache or Nginx#

During development, it’s easiest to use the Django webserver to view your Arches installation. However, once you are ready to put the project into production, you’ll have to use a more efficient, robust, and secure webserver like Apache or Nginx.

Use of Apache or Nginx involves many considerations in common, including set-up of SSL certificates for HTTPS, set-up and permissions of static assets, and running the Arches Django application with a WSGI server. The following guide first two sections describes how to use Apache. The next section focuses on using Nginx:

Configure Apache#

The following instructions work for Ubuntu 16.04 - 20.04; minor changes may be necessary for a different OS. This is a very basic Apache configuration, and more fine tuning will benefit your production installation.

  1. Install Apache.

    $ sudo apt-get install apache2
  2. Install mod_wsgi

    There are two ways to install mod_wsgi. Both of the require you to start by installing the Apache and Python development headers.

    $ sudo apt install apache2-dev python3-dev


    You may need to install the Python dev package specific to your Python version, e.g. python3.8-dev.

    Now follow one of the following two options:

    Install mod_wsgi directly into your Python virtual environment

    $ source /home/ubuntu/Projects/ENV/bin/activate
    (ENV)$ pip install mod_wsgi

    Generate the link path to mod_wsgi.

    (ENV)$ mod_wsgi-express module-config

    This command will produce two lines that look like

    LoadModule wsgi_module "<your venv path>/lib/python3.8/site-packages/mod_wsgi/server/"
    WSGIPythonHome "<your venv path>"

    Copy these two lines, you will use them in step 3.

    Install mod_wsgi system-wide

    Alternatively, you can use apt to install at the system level:

    $ sudo apt install libapache2-mod-wsgi-py3

    Note that the version of Python 3 installed at the system-level may need to match the version used to create the virtual environment pointed to in the config. For example, if libapache2-mod-wsgi-py3 is compiled against Python 3.8, use Python 3.8 for your virtual environment. Installing mod-wsgi this way means you will not need to load it as a module in the Apaache .conf file.

  3. Create a new Apache .conf file

    Here is a basic Apache configuration for Arches. If using a domain like, name this file, otherwise, use something simple like arches-default.conf.

    The paths below are based on an example project in /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project.

    sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/arches-default.conf

    Complete new file contents:

    # If you have mod_wsgi installed in your python virtual environment, paste the text generated
    # by 'mod_wsgi-express module-config' here, *before* the VirtualHost is defined.
    LoadModule wsgi_module "/home/ubuntu/Projects/ENV/lib/python3.8/site-packages/mod_wsgi/server/"
    WSGIPythonHome "/home/ubuntu/Projects/ENV"
    <VirtualHost *:80>
        WSGIApplicationGroup %{GLOBAL}
        WSGIDaemonProcess arches python-path=/home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project
        WSGIScriptAlias / /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/my_project/ process-group=arches
        # May be necessary to support integration with possible 3rd party mobile apps
        WSGIPassAuthorization on
        ## Uncomment the ServerName directive and fill it with your domain
        ## or subdomain if/when you have your DNS records configured.
        # ServerName
        <Directory /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/>
            Require all granted
        # This section tells Apache where to find static files. This example uses
        # STATIC_URL = '/media/' and STATIC_ROOT = os.path.join(APP_ROOT, 'static')
        # NOTE: omit this section if you are using S3 to serve static files.
        Alias /media/ /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/my_project/static/
        <Directory /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/my_project/static/>
            Require all granted
        # This section tells Apache where to find uploaded files. This example uses
        # MEDIA_URL = '/files/' and MEDIA_ROOT = os.path.join(APP_ROOT)
        # NOTE: omit this section if you are using S3 for uploaded media
        Alias /files/uploadedfiles/ /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/my_project/uploadedfiles/
        <Directory /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/my_project/uploadedfiles/>
            Require all granted
        ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
        DocumentRoot /var/www/html
        # Available loglevels: trace8, ..., trace1, debug, info, notice, warn,
        # error, crit, alert, emerg.
        # It is also possible to configure the loglevel for particular
        # modules, e.g.
        #LogLevel info ssl:warn
        # Recommend changing these file names if you have multiple arches
        # installations on the same server.
        ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/error-arches.log
        CustomLog /var/log/apache2/access-arches.log combined
  4. Disable the default Apache conf, and enable the new one.

    $ sudo a2dissite 000-default
    $ sudo a2ensite arches-default
    $ sudo service apache2 reload

    Replace arches-default with the name of your new .conf file if needed.

At this point, you can try accessing your Arches installation in a browser, but you’re likely to get some kind of file permissions error. Continue to the next section.


With Apache serving Arches, any changes to a .py file (like will not be reflected until you reload Apache.

Prepare the Arches Project for Apache#

  1. Set all file and directory permissions.

    Apache runs as the user www-data, and this user must have write access to some portions of your Arches project.


    On CentOS, Apache runs as is httpd, so substitute that for www-data herein.

    The arches.log file…

    $ sudo chmod 664 /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/my_project/arches.log
    $ sudo chgrp www-data /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/my_project/arches.log

    The uploadedfiles directory…

    $ sudo chmod 775 /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/my_project/uploadedfiles
    $ sudo chgrp www-data /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/my_project/uploadedfiles

    Or, if either arches.log or uploadedfiles doesn’t yet exist, you can just allow www-data to create them at a later point by giving write access to your project directory.

    $ sudo chmod 775 /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/my_project
    $ sudo chgrp www-data /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/my_project

    You should now be able to access your Arches installation in a browser, but there is one more important step.

  2. Run collectstatic.

    This Django command places all of the static files (CSS, JavaScript, etc.) used in Arches into a single location that a webserver can find. By default, they are placed in my_project/my_project/static, based on STATIC_ROOT.


    You can change STATIC_ROOT all you want, but be sure to update the Alias and Directory info in the Apache conf accordingly.

    (ENV)$ python collectstatic

    The first time this runs it will take a little while (~20k files), and may show errors/warnings that you can safely ignore.

    Finally, make sure Apache has write access to this static directory because django-compressor needs to update the CACHE contents inside it:

    $ sudo chmod 775 /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/my_project/static
    $ sudo chgrp www-data /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/my_project/static


    from now on, any time you change a CSS, JavaScript, or other static asset you must rerun this command.

You should now be able to view your Arches installation in a browser without any issues.

Configure Nginx#

Many Django applications use the open source Nginx application as a proxy server. If you want to use nginx + uWSGI instead of Apache + mod_wsgi, you should start with this tutorial . You can also use Nginx with Gunicorn (an increasingly popular way to securely run a Django application). To use Nginx and Gunicorn, please start with this tutorial.

If you’re using Gunicorn, don’t forget to first install it into the Python virtual environment you are using for Arches:

$ # install gunicorn into your Arches virtual environment
$ pip install gunicorn

As is the case with Apache, Nginx will need appropriate permissions to serve static files. Every time you run collectstatic, you may change the file permissions, and you may need to rerun the following:

$ sudo chmod 755 /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/my_project/static
$ sudo chgrp nginx /home/ubuntu/Projects/my_project/my_project/static

It’s sometimes useful to have an example configuration to help get you started. This Nginx configuration can be used as a guide.


The configuration provided below asks Nginx to compress text files (css, javascript, etc). This may help to noticeably improve performance for the Arches user interface.

server_names_hash_bucket_size 64;
proxy_headers_hash_bucket_size 512;
server_names_hash_max_size 512;
large_client_header_buffers 8 64k;
proxy_read_timeout 3600;
proxy_connect_timeout 3600;

# Connect to the Arches Django app running with Gunicorn.
upstream django {
    server localhost:8000;

# The not encrypted plain HTTP config
server {
    listen 80;
    charset utf-8;

    location ^~ /.well-known/acme-challenge/ {
        default_type "text/plain";
        autoindex on;
        allow all;
        root /var/www/certbot/$host;

    access_log /logs/nginx/access.log;
    error_log /logs/nginx/error.log;
    proxy_read_timeout 3600;

    proxy_set_header  X-Forwarded-Protocol  $scheme;
    gzip on;
    gzip_disable "msie6";
    gzip_vary on;
    gzip_proxied any;
    gzip_comp_level 6;
    gzip_buffers 16 8k;
    gzip_http_version 1.1;
    gzip_types text/plain text/css application/json application/ld+json
application/geo+json text/xml application/xml application/xml+rss
text/javascript application/javascript text/html;

    # Redirect to use HTTPS
    location / {
        return 301 https://$host$request_uri;

# The encrypted HTTPS config
server {
    listen       443 ssl;

    access_log /logs/nginx/ssl_access.log;
    error_log /logs/nginx/ssl_error.log;

    proxy_set_header  X-Forwarded-Protocol  $scheme;
    proxy_read_timeout 3600;

    ssl_certificate /etc/your-ssl-path/fullchain.pem;
    ssl_certificate_key /etc/your-ssl-path/privkey.pem;

    # NOTE! These other config files are not documented here
    include /etc/nginx/options-ssl-nginx.conf;
    ssl_dhparam /etc/nginx/sites/ssl/ssl-dhparams.pem;
    include /etc/nginx/hsts.conf;

    # NOTE! Be default, NGINX only allows a 1MB file upload.
    # The following config raises this to 100MB
    client_max_body_size 100M;

    # Ask Nginx to use gzip compression to send javascript, css, etc.
    gzip on;
    gzip_disable "msie6";
    gzip_vary on;
    gzip_proxied any;
    gzip_comp_level 6;
    gzip_buffers 16 8k;
    gzip_http_version 1.1;
    gzip_types text/plain text/css application/json application/ld+json
application/geo+json text/xml application/xml application/xml+rss
text/javascript application/javascript text/html;

    location ^~ /.well-known/acme-challenge/ {
        default_type "text/plain";
        autoindex on;
        allow all;
        root /var/www/certbot/$host;

    # For the 'alias', use the correct path to the location where Arches
    # puts static files after 'collectstatic'. Like Apache (see above)
    # Nginx will also need permissions to serve the static files.
    location  /static/ {
        autoindex on;
        allow all;
        alias  /path_to_arches_static_files_after_collectstatic/;
        include  /etc/nginx/mime.types;

    location @proxy_to_django {
        proxy_pass http://django;
        proxy_http_version 1.1;
        proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
        proxy_set_header Connection "upgrade";
        proxy_redirect off;
        proxy_set_header Host $host;
        proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Host $server_name;