Jon Atkinson

I'm a technologist, with a long and varied history in high-end technical delivery and infrastructure management. I'm particularly interested in managing software teams, rapid application development, and scalability challenges.

Setting up a DevPi server

14th July 2016

code devpi python pypi

Downloading 3rd party packages is an important part of our build and deployment process. While PyPI is generally excellent, it does present some risks for us:

  • PyPI does go down from time-to-time. While availability is so much better than it was a few years ago, downtime does still happen.
  • Older Python packages are occasionally removed from PyPI, leaving holes in our requirements.
  • Downloading packages to our servers requires external connectivity, and counts towards our bandwidth usage.

I was encouraged by this article (and the subsequent commentary) to investigate using DevPI as a proxy for PyPI:

The MIT-licensed devpi system features a powerful PyPI-compatible server and a complimentary command line tool to drive packaging, testing and release activities with Python.

Main features and usage scenarios:

fast PyPI mirror: use a local self-updating pypi.python.org caching mirror which works with pip and easy_install. After an initial cache-fill it can work off-line and will re-synchronize when you get online again.

This is a quick walk-through of setting up a DevPI server. We use uWSGI and nginx to serve the application, and we made it available on a host which is available over the private interface of our internal network. It's assumed that the server has a working supervisor daemon running.

First, we need to do some basic setup. We create a folder for the application, and a data folder. Then build a virtualenv, and install the devpi-server package:

$ mkdir /srv/www/devpi/ && mkdir /srv/www/devpi/data/ && cd /srv/www/devpi
$ virtualenv env
$ ./env/bin/pip install -q -U devpi-server

Check that it's installed correctly:

$ ./env/bin/devpi-server --version

Now, generate the configuration files:

$ devpi-server --port 4040 --serverdir ./data/ --gen-config
wrote gen-config/supervisor-devpi.conf
wrote gen-config/nginx-devpi.conf
wrote gen-config/crontab
wrote gen-config/net.devpi.plist
wrote gen-config/devpi.service

Link the supervisor config file into place (switch to a superuser for this):

$ ln -s /srv/www/devpi/gen-config/supervisor-devpi.conf /etc/supervisor/conf.d/99-devpi.conf

Supervisor will need restarting to launch the new process:

$ sudo service supervisor restart

You need to link the nginx configuration file into place (again, as a superuser), and then restart nginx. I edited the hostname directive in the nginx config so it would be addressable with my local DNS:

$ ln -s /srv/www/devpi/gen-config/nginx-devpi.conf /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/99-devpi.conf
$ sudo service nginx restart

Check the nginx configuration is working, and is responding (on your local machine):

$ curl pypi.hostname.com
  "type": "list:userconfig",
  "result": {
    "root": {
      "username": "root",
      "indexes": {
        "pypi": {
          "type": "mirror",
          "bases": [],
          "volatile": false

Now, we need to setup the root user on this devpi instance. The root user's password is blank by default.

$ devpi use http://pypi.hostname.com
using server: http://pypi.hostname.com/ (not logged in)
no current index: type 'devpi use -l' to discover indices
~/.pydistutils.cfg     : no config file exists
~/.pip/pip.conf        : no index server configured
~/.buildout/default.cfg: no config file exists
always-set-cfg: no
$ devpi login root --password ''
logged in 'root', credentials valid for 10.00 hours
$ devpi user -m root password=verysecurepassword
user modified: root
$ devpi logoff

You should setup a regular user account

$ devpi user -c jonathan password=verysecurepassword email=jon@wearefarm.com

Next, login as that user, and tell that user to use the root/pypi repository as default. Any packages requested by this method will be automatically downloaded and cached by your devpi instance. This step will amend your ~/.pip/pip.conf file to reflect this new index, and use it as default form now on.

$ devpi login jonathan
password for user jonathan:
$ devpi use --set-cfg root/pypi

Lets just do a quick check to make sure the index is working, and pip is configured correctly:

$ mkdir /tmp/devpi-test && cd /tmp/devpi-test
$ virtualenv env
New python executable in env/bin/python
Installing setuptools, pip, wheel...done.
$ source env/bin/activate
$ pip install --trusted-host pypi.frm.io Django
Collecting Django
Downloading http://pypi.hostname.com/root/pypi/+f/a5d/397c65a880228/Django-1.8.3-py2.py3-none-any.whl (6.2MB)
100% |████████████████████████████████| 6.2MB 2.7MB/s
Installing collected packages: Django
Successfully installed Django-1.8.3

Note that you need to use the --trusted-host flag to suppress the pip trust warning. Setting up this host over SSL is simple enough, and can be done in the nginx configuration file.