Frequently Asked Questions

How do I define my own local targets?

If you’d like to add some convenience make targets, you can add them to a file, ignored by git.

How do I make payments?

The ecommerce image comes pre-configured for payments via CyberSource and PayPal. Additionally, the provisioning scripts add the demo course (course-v1:edX+DemoX+Demo_Course) to the ecommerce catalog. You can initiate a checkout by visiting http://localhost:18130/basket/add/?sku=8CF08E5 or clicking one of the various upgrade links in the LMS. The following details can be used for checkout. While the name and address fields are required for credit card payments, their values are not checked in development, so put whatever you want in those fields.

  • Card Type: Visa

  • Card Number: 4111111111111111

  • CVN: 123 (or any three digits)

  • Expiry Date: 06/2025 (or any date in the future)

PayPal (same for username and password):

How do I develop on an installed Python package?

If you want to modify an installed package – for instance edx-enterprise or completion – clone the repository in ~/workspace/src/your-package. Next, ssh into the appropriate docker container (make lms-shell), run pip install -e /edx/src/your-package, and restart the service.

How do I upgrade Python packages?

Unlike the node_modules directory, the virtualenv used to run Python code in a Docker container only exists inside that container. Changes made to a container’s filesystem are not saved when the container exits, so if you manually install or upgrade Python packages in a container (via pip install, paver install_python_prereqs, etc.), they will no longer be present if you restart the container. (Devstack Docker containers lose changes made to the filesystem when you reboot your computer, run make down, restart or upgrade Docker itself, etc.) If you want to ensure that your new or upgraded packages are present in the container every time it starts, you have a few options:

  • Merge your updated requirements files and wait for a new edxops Docker image for that service to be built and uploaded to Docker Hub. You can then download and use the updated image (for example, via make dev.pull.<service>). The discovery and edxapp images are built automatically via a Jenkins job. All other images are currently built as needed by edX employees, but will soon be built automatically on a regular basis. See building images for devstack for more information.

  • You can update your requirements files as appropriate and then build your own updated image for the service as described above, tagging it such that docker-compose will use it instead of the last image you downloaded. (Alternatively, you can temporarily edit docker-compose.yml to replace the image entry for that service with the ID of your new image.) You should be sure to modify the variable override for the version of the application code used for building the image. See How do I build images?. for more information.

  • You can temporarily modify the main service command in docker-compose.yml to first install your new package(s) each time the container is started. For example, the part of the studio command which reads ...&& while true; do... could be changed to ...&& pip install my-new-package && while true; do....

  • In order to work on locally pip-installed repos like edx-ora2, first clone them into ../src (relative to this directory). Then, inside your lms shell, you can pip install -e /edx/src/edx-ora2. If you want to keep this code installed across stop/starts, modify docker-compose.yml as mentioned above.

How do I upgrade Node.js packages?

JavaScript packages for Node.js are installed into the node_modules directory of the local git repository checkout which is synced into the corresponding Docker container. Hence these can be upgraded via any of the usual methods for that service (npm install, paver install_node_prereqs, etc.), and the changes will persist between container restarts.

How do I rebuild static assets?

Optimized static assets are built for all the Open edX services during provisioning, but you may want to rebuild them for a particular service after changing some files without re-provisioning the entire devstack. To do this, run the make dev.static.<service> target. For example:

make dev.static.credentials

To rebuild static assets for all service containers:

make dev.static

How do I enable comprehensive theming?

Following directions Changing Themes for an Open edX Site to get started. You can create your theme inside the ${DEVSTACK_WORKSPACE}/edx-themes local directory as this maps to the Docker container /edx/app/edx-themes location.

Devstack Envs Configuration

Make sure that you enable the following code in ./edx-platform/lms/envs/ as this will make sure that you have the appropriate Mako template overrides applied for your theme. Forgetting to enable this will not allow your theme template files to be overriden by the platform. See discuss 3557 for details concerning issues with not enabling the following code.

########################## THEMING  #######################
# If you want to enable theming in devstack, uncomment this section and add any relevant
# theme directories to COMPREHENSIVE_THEME_DIRS

# We have to import the private method here because calls
# derive_settings('lms.envs.production') which runs _make_mako_template_dirs with
# the settings from production, which doesn't include these theming settings. Thus,
# the templating engine is unable to find the themed templates because they don't exist
# in it's path. Re-calling derive_settings doesn't work because the settings was already
# changed from a function to a list, and it can't be derived again.

from .common import _make_mako_template_dirs
TEMPLATES[1]["DIRS"] = _make_mako_template_dirs

How do I connect to the databases from an outside editor?

To connect to the databases from an outside editor (such as MySQLWorkbench), first uncomment these lines from docker-compose.yml’s mysql or mysql57 section (depending on what service you’re on):

  - "3506:3306"

Then bring your mysql container down and back up by running:

docker-compose stop mysql57
docker-compose up -d mysql57

Then connect using the values below. Note that the username and password will vary depending on the database. For all of the options, see provision.sql.

  • Host: localhost

  • Port: 3506

  • Username: edxapp001

  • Password: password

If you have trouble connecting, ensure the port was mapped successfully by running make and looking for a line like this: edx.devstack.mysql mysql ... Up→3306/tcp.

How do I build the service images myself?

See the instructions for building images for devstack.

How do I create relational database dumps?

See the instructions for updating relational database dumps.

How do I keep my database up to date?

To run Django migrations for a particular service, bring up the service and use make dev.migrate.<service>. For example:


To run migrations for all services at once, run:

make dev.up.large-and-slow
make dev.migrate

Alternatively, you can discard and rebuild the entire database for all devstack services by re-running make dev.provision.<service> or make dev.sync.provision as appropriate for your configuration. Note that if your branch has fallen significantly behind master, it may not include all of the migrations included in the database dump used by provisioning. In these cases, it’s usually best to first rebase the branch onto master to get the missing migrations.

How do I access a database shell?

To access a MongoDB shell, run the following commands:


To access the MySQL shell for a particular database, run:

use <database>;

Equivalently, you can use the command make dev.dbshell.<database> as a shortcut. For example, this will put you in a MySQL shell using the E-Commerce database:

make dev.dbshell.ecommerce

How do I create new migrations?

For LMS, log into the LMS shell and run the makemigrations command with the devstack_docker settings:

./ lms makemigrations <appname> --settings=devstack_docker

For Studio, it is similar:

./ cms makemigrations <appname> --settings=devstack_docker

Finally, for any other service, run:

./ makemigrations <appname>

Also, make sure you are aware of the Django Migration Don’ts as the edx-platform is deployed using the red-black method.

Switching branches

You can usually switch branches on a service’s repository without adverse effects on a running container for it. The service in each container is using runserver and should automatically reload when any changes are made to the code on disk. However, note the points made above regarding database migrations and package updates.

When switching to a branch which differs greatly from the one you’ve been working on (especially if the new branch is more recent), you may wish to halt and remove the existing containers via make down, pull the latest Docker images via make dev.pull.<service>, and then re-run make dev.provision.<service> or make dev.sync.provision in order to recreate up-to-date databases, static assets, etc.

If making a patch to a named release, you should pull and use Docker images which were tagged for that release.

Changing LMS/Studio settings

LMS and Studio (a.k.a. CMS) read many configuration settings from the container filesystem in the following locations:

  • /edx/etc/lms.yml

  • /edx/etc/studio.yml

Changes to these files will not persist over a container restart, as they are part of the layered container filesystem and not a mounted volume. However, you may need to change these settings and then have the LMS or Studio pick up the changes.

After changing settings, you can restart the LMS/Studio process without restarting the container by running the following on your host machine:

make dev.restart-devserver.lms     # For LMS
make  # For Studio/CMS

How do I integrate with PyCharm?

See the Pycharm Integration documentation.

What is DevPI and how does it affect Devstack?

LMS and Studio use a devpi container to cache PyPI dependencies, which speeds up several Devstack operations. See the devpi documentation.