Devstack Interface

Devstack comes built in with many useful make commands that act as an user interface. This UI is essentially a make wrapper around docker-compose commands. We attempt to give a short summary of what the make commands do below, but it would be a good idea for you to familiarize yourself with some knowledge of docker-compose.

Due to the organic nature of how this user interface came into being, there are often multiple ways to do the same thing. The two main variants of commands are of the form: dev.ACTION.SERVICE vs SERVICE-ACTION. The SERVICE-ACTION variant tends to be more tab-completion friendly.


make dev.up.registrar
make registrar-up

make lms-shell

make dev.logs.frontend-app-gradebook
make frontend-app-gradebook-logs

The user interface for devstack often also gives you both big hammers(make dev.pull.large-and-slow) and small hammers(make dev.pull.<service>) to do things. It is recommend you opt for the small hammer commands, because they often tend to be alot faster.

Useful Commands and Summary

  • dev.pull.<service> - Pull latest Docker images for the service and its dependencies

    When to use: If you have not used Devstack for a while or pulled new images for a while, the installed requirements in your containers might no longer match those used by your code. So it is recommended you pull new images whenever you want your containers to have the latest requirements(python libraries…) installed.

    Note: for new service images to be used, you first need to bring down those services and then bring them back up after a pull.

    Note: Pulling new images will not affect your databases state


    • make dev.pull.large-and-slow, make dev.pull, or make pull will pull all images in the default devstack.

      When to use: Probably only when you are first setting up devstack. Do not use this often. This will take a lot of time.

    • make dev.pull.<service1>+<service2> will pull images for <service1>, <service2>, and their dependencies

    • make dev.pull.without-deps.<service> will only pull <service> image.

      When to use: If you only want to update one image and do not mind if the other images are behind latest.

  • dev.up.<service> - Create and start containers. i.e. brings up the <service> container and its dependencies

    When to use: When you are working on a specific service, use this command to bring up the necessary containers for your service i.e if working in lms, use make dev.up.lms to bring up containers for lms and its dependencies.

    Especially if you are running devstack after a few days of break, you will likely want to use make dev.pull.<service> before this using this command.

    Also see below at dev.stop and dev.down for opposite counterparts of this command


    • make dev.up.large-and-slow, make dev.up, or make up will bring up containers for everything in default devstack

      When to use: Probably never, unless you are doing a full devstack level testing

    • make dev.up.<service1>+<service2> will bring up <service1>, <service2>, and their dependencies

    • make dev.up.without-deps.<service> will only bring up the <service> container

  • dev.stop: Stops all running containers. This does not remove the containers or the networks they had created

    When to use: When you are pausing your work on devstack and you want to pick back up from where you left off. Next time you use dev.up.<service> to bring up containers, you should be able to mostly pick back up from where you started.

    Variation: + make dev.stop.<service> will only stop the specified container

  • dev.down: stops and removes all running containers as well as any networks that were created. Next time you use dev.up.<service> to bring up containers, your containers have reverted back to the pulled image.

    Note: This will not affect content of the databases.

    When to use: use this command only if you are okay with removing any changes you might have made to your containers. You will likely want to use make dev.stop instead of make dev.down.


    • make dev.down.<service> will stop and remove only the specified container.

      Note: This will only bring down <service>’s container and not its dependencies.

  •<service>: used to enter the shell of the specified service container.

    When to use: To update python packages, to run migrations, or any shell commands you want to run on the running service

    Variation: make <service>-shell

    Tip: To enter either mysql or mongo shell, run make mysql-shell or make mongo-shell to enter container shell and then run either mysql or mongo to enter the database shell

  • dev.attach.<service>: dev.up is setup to bring up the service container in the background. This attaches the container to your shell.

    When to use: If you put a breakpoint somewhere in your code, the pdb shell will show up in here.

    Tip: use Ctrl+c to restart the devserver

    Tip: use Ctrl+p Ctrl+q to detach without closing your terminal

    Variation: make <service>-attach

  • dev.logs.<service>: View the logs of the specified service <service>

    When to use: during debugging, this would help you see live logs coming out of your container.

    Variation: make dev.logs to view logs for all running containers. Do not use this! This is likely very overwhelming.

    Variation: make <service>-logs

  • dev.restart-devserver.<service> restarts the Django/Sinatra server inside container without restarting the container itself.

    When to use: When automatic code reloading is not working and you need to manually restart a particular application server.

    Tip: This only works for backend services. To restart frontends, use dev.attach.frontend-app-<name> and Ctrl+C.

    Variation: make <service>-restart-devserver.

  • dev.restart-container.<service> restarts service container. This is essentially a stronger version of dev.restrart-devserver

    Note: this will only restart <container> and not its dependencies

    Variation: make dev.restart-container.<service1>+<service2> will restart both <service> and <service>

  • dev.backup creates a backup of all the database containers(mysql, elasticsearch, mongo)

    Also see below at dev.restore for opposite counterpart to this command.

  • dev.restore will restore your database volumes to the backups created using dev.backup

    Warning: This will overwrite your databases. Only use if you want all your database volumes to revert back to the backup.