This document describes the necessary steps to configure Patchwork in a development environment. If you are interested in deploying Patchwork in a production environment, refer to the deployment guide instead.

To begin, you should clone Patchwork:

$ git clone git://

Docker-Based Installation

Patchwork provides a Docker-based environment for quick configuration of a development environment. This is the preferred installation method. To configure Patchwork using Docker:

  1. Install docker and docker-compose. 1 Patchwork assumes that you have Docker configured to allow a non-root user to manage Docker, as outlined in the Docker post-install instructions.


Depending on your distro, docker-compose may also be available as a package.

  1. Create a .env file in the root directory of the project and store your UID and GID attribute there.

    $ echo "UID=$UID" > .env
    $ echo "GID=`id -g`" >> .env
  2. Build the images. This will download over 200MB from the internet:

    $ docker-compose build

    To use Postgres instead of MySQL, give the -f docker-compose-pg.yml argument to docker-compose. This is required on non-x86 architectures as the MySQL Docker images do not have multiarch support.

  3. Run docker-compose up:

    $ docker-compose up

    This will be visible at http://localhost:8000/.

To run a shell within this environment, run:

$ docker-compose run --rm web /bin/bash

To run django-manage commands, such as createsuperuser or migrate, run:

$ docker-compose run --rm web python createsuperuser

To access the SQL command-line client, run:

$ docker-compose run --rm web python dbshell

To backup the database, run:

$ docker-compose run --rm web python dbbackup

Likewise, to restore an older version of the database, run:

$ docker-compose run --rm web python dbrestore

To run unit tests against the system Python packages, run:

# For MySQL database:
$ docker-compose exec -T -- db sh -c \
      "exec mysql -uroot -p\"\${MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD}\" -e \"GRANT ALL ON \\\`test\\_\${MYSQL_DATABASE}%\\\`.* to '\${MYSQL_USER}'@'%'; FLUSH PRIVILEGES;\""

$ docker-compose run --rm web python test

To run unit tests for multiple versions using tox, run:

$ docker-compose run --rm web tox

To reset the database, stop the db container and purge the database files:

$ docker-compose stop db
$ sudo rm -rf tools/docker/db

Any local edits to the project files made locally are immediately visible to the Docker container, and so should be picked up by the Django auto-reloader.

For more information on Docker itself, please refer to the docker and docker-compose documentation.


If using SELinux, you will need to create a custom SELinux rule to allow the Docker process to access your working directory. Run:

$ chcon -R -t svirt_sandbox_file_t $PATCHWORK_DIR

where $PATCHWORK_DIR is the absolute patch to the patchwork folder created when you cloned the repo. For more information, see man docker run.


If you see an error like the below:

ERROR: Couldn't connect to the Docker daemon at http+docker://localunixsocket - is it running?

ensure you have correctly installed Docker, and have followed the Docker post-install instructions.


If you see an error like the below:

You must define UID in .env

Ensure you have created a .env file in the root of your project directory and stored the UID attribute there. For more information on why this is necessary, refer to this docker-compose issue.

Manual Installation

Manual installation can be used where use of Docker is not possible or desired.

Install Required Packages

There are a number of different requirements for developing Patchwork:

  • Python and libraries

  • A supported database (RDBMS)

These are detailed below.

Python Requirements

To develop Python-based software you first need Python. Patchwork supports Python 3.7+. Python 3 will be installed by default on many installations, though a suitable version can usually be installed manually using the python3 package.

It’s a good idea to use virtual environments to develop Python software. Virtual environments are “instances” of your system Python without any of the additional Python packages installed. They are useful to develop and possibly deploy Patchwork against a “well known” set of dependencies, but they can also be used to test Patchwork against several versions of Django.

If you do not have virtualenv installed then you should install it now. This can be installed using the python3-virtualenv package. Alternatively you can install these using pip.

It is also helpful to install tox which is used for running tests in Patchwork. This can be installed using the python3-tox package, or via pip.

Database Requirements

If not already installed, you may need to install an RDBMS. You can use either MariaDB/MySQL or PostgreSQL for this purpose. You should also install the development headers, known as libmysqlclient-dev or libpq-dev respectively on Debian-based Debian-based distros like Ubuntu and mysql-devel or postgresql-devel on RHEL-based distros.


While Django provides support for multiple database backends, Patchwork itself is only tested against MySQL/MariaDB and PostgreSQL. Should you wish to use a different backend, ensure you validate this first (and perhaps upstream any changes you may find necessary).


You may be tempted to use SQLite to develop Patchwork. We’d advise against doing this. SQLite supports a subset of the functionality of “full” RDBMS like MySQL: for example, case-sensitive matching of Unicode is not supported. You will find some tests provided by Patchwork fail and some patches you develop may fail in production due to these differences.

Example Installation

An example for installing all these packages and the MySQL RDBMS on Ubuntu 20.04 is given below:

$ sudo apt-get install python3 python3-pip python3-dev python3-virtualenv \
    python3-tox mysql-server libmysqlclient-dev

If you have an existing MariaDB/MySQL installation then you can install all packages using pip:

$ sudo pip install virtualenv tox

Configure Virtual Environment


If you are interested in simply testing Patchwork, many of the below steps are not required. tox will automatically install dependencies and use virtual environments when testing.

Once these requirements are installed, you should create and activate a new virtual environment. This can be done like so:

$ virtualenv .venv
$ source .venv/bin/activate


If you wish to use a specific Python version, you can provide the --python argument to use this, e.g. --python=python3.7.

Now install the packages. Patchwork provides three requirements files.


Packages required to configure a development environment


Packages required for deploying Patchwork in production


Packages required to run tests

We’re going to install the first of these, which can be done like so:

(.venv)$ cd patchwork
(.venv)$ pip install -r requirements-dev.txt


Once configured this does not need to be done again unless the requirements change, e.g. Patchwork requires an updated version of Django.

Initialize the Database

One installed, the database must be configured. We will assume you have root access to the database for these steps.

To begin, export your database credentials as follows:

(.venv)$ db_user=root
(.venv)$ db_pass=password

Now, create the database. If this is your first time configuring the database, you must create a patchwork user (or similar) along with the database instance itself. The commands below will do this, dropping existing databases if necessary:

(.venv)$ mysql -u$db_user -p$db_pass << EOF
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON patchwork.* TO 'patchwork'@'localhost'
    IDENTIFIED BY 'password';


The patchwork username and password password are the defaults expected by the provided dev settings files. If using something different, export the DATABASE_USER and DATABASE_PASSWORD variables described in the Environment Variables section below. Alternatively, you can create your own settings file with these variables hardcoded and change the value of DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE as described below.

Load Initial Data

Before continuing, we need to tell Django where it can find our configuration. Patchwork provides a default development file for this purpose. To use this, export the DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE environment variable as described below:

(.venv)$ export

Alternatively you can provide your own file and provide the path to that instead.

Once done, we need to create the tables in the database. This can be done using the migrate command of the executable:

(.venv)$ ./ migrate

Next, you should load the initial fixtures into Patchwork. These initial fixtures provide.


The tags that Patchwork will extract from mails. For example: Acked-By, Reviewed-By


The states that a patch can be in. For example: Accepted, Rejected


A default project that you can then upload patches for

These can be loaded using the loaddata command:

(.venv)$ ./ loaddata default_tags default_states default_projects

You should also take the opportunity to create a “superuser”. You can do this using the aptly-named createsuperuser command:

(.venv)$ ./ createsuperuser

Import Mailing List Archives

Regardless of your installation method of choice, you will probably want to load some real emails into the system. This can be done manually, however it’s generally much easier to download an archive from a Mailman instance and load these using the parsearchive command. You can do this like so:

(.venv)$ mm_user=<myusername>
(.venv)$ mm_pass=<mypassword>
(.venv)$ mm_host=
(.venv)$ mm_url=$mm_host/private/patchwork.mbox/patchwork.mbox
(.venv)$ curl -F username=$mm_user -F password=$mm_pass -k -O $mm_url

where mm_user and mm_pass are the username and password you have registered with on the Mailman instance found at mm_host.


We provide instructions for downloading archives from the Patchwork mailing list, but almost any instance of Mailman will allow downloading of archives as seen above; simply change the pw_url variable defined. You can find more informations about this here.

Load these archives into Patchwork. Depending on the size of the downloaded archives this may take some time:

(.venv)$ ./ parsearchive patchwork.mbox

Finally, run the server and browse to the IP address of your board using your browser of choice:

(.venv)$ ./ runserver

Once finished, you can kill the server (Ctrl+C) and exit the virtual environment:

(.venv)$ deactivate

Should you wish to re-enter this environment, simply source the activate script again.

Django Debug Toolbar

Patchwork installs and enables the ‘Django Debug Toolbar’ application by default when using development settings and requirements. This provides a configurable set of panels that display various debug information about the current request/response and, when clicked, display more details about the panel’s content.


By default, the toolbar is only displayed if you are developing on localhost. If developing on a different machine, you should configure an SSH tunnel such that, for example, localhost:8000 points to [DEV_MACHINE_IP]:8000.

For more information, refer to the documentation.

Django Database Backup

Patchwork installs and enables the ‘Django Database Backup’ application by default when using development settings and requirements. This provides the following management commands, which can be useful for hacking on Patchwork:

  • dbbackup

  • dbrestore

  • mediabackup

  • mediarestore

For more information, refer to the documentation.

Environment Variables

The following environment variables are available to configure settings.


Name of the database


Username to access the database with


Password to access the database with<


Type of database to use. Options: mysql, postgres