19 November 2014

HOWTO Setup gunicorn on OpenBSD 5.6

As part of a silly web project of mine, I'm having fun getting reacquainted with OpenBSD.

Today I wanted to set up Gunicorn, a powerful webserver that will eventually run my Django application. It was not a straightforward process, so I decided to document it for my fellow geeks.


This procedure assumes that you've already set up the following:
  • installed Python 3 (I tested with 3.4.1)
  • created a custom myuser account and logged on as such
  • created a virtualenv with pyvenv /home/myuser
  • installed Django in the above-mentioned virtualenv
  • created a Django project at /home/myuser/myproject

Let's go!

  1. activate the virtualenv: source bin/activate
  2. install Gunicorn: pip install gunicorn
  3. create /home/myuser/gunicorn_config.py with the following contents:
    command = '/home/myuser/bin/gunicorn'
    pythonpath = '/home/myuser/myproject'
    chdir = '/home/myuser'
    pidfile = '/home/myuser/.gunicorn_myproject.pid'
    user = 'nobody'
    worker_tmp_dir = '/tmp'
    errorlog = '/var/log/gunicorn_myproject'
    # tweak the following lines to suit your setup
    bind = 'localhost:8001'
    workers = 4
    You can add any further option as necessary, but it's important you keep pidfile and user.
  4. sudo to root (I'd recommend to do that from another account, i.e. don't add myuser to wheel) and create /etc/rc.d/gunicorn_myproject with the following contents:
    daemon_flags="/home/myuser/bin/gunicorn -c /home/myuser/gunicorn_config.py -D myproject.wsgi"
    rc_stop() {
        kill `cat /home/myuser/.gunicorn_myproject.pid`
    . /etc/rc.d/rc.subr
    rc_cmd $1
    Note how we are specifying daemon to be the python executable. This is the only way I've found to keep the rest of the machinery in rc.subr working smoothly.
  5. chmod 555 /etc/rc.d/gunicorn_myproject
  6. now you can start and stop Gunicorn with standard OpenBSD 5.x commands: /etc/rc.d/gunicorn_myproject start
  7. Typically, you'd then set nginx to proxy and cache requests, and firewall gunicorn from the outside.
Note how gunicorn starts as root and then spawns processes as nobody; if I were to start it as myuser, it would not work. This is because gunicorn tries to change ownership of files and processes after startup, and OpenBSD doesn't seem to like it. This looks suboptimal to me, but I couldn't find a workaround.

Note also how we're writing the main process PID to file, and then using it to stop that same main process. Standard rc.subr machinery would expect me to specify a regex in the pexp variable, which would then be passed to pgrep to find the process; but this doesn't work with gunicorn because pgrep simply cannot distinguish between master and worker processes, since they appear to have the exact same command line.

If you know anything else I should do to further secure this setup, please let me know in comments!


Jay said...

Hi is it working on OpenBSD 5.8? i am trying to get it working but having trouble shooting up gunicorn..

Giacomo Lacava said...

Good question. I've not worked on either obsd or gunicorn for a while so I don't know, really. you could try asking StackOverflow or SuperUser...