Recently Heroku has changed their terms that every free application should be inactive for 6 hours a day. This will not work out if we are going to depend on heroku to host a application which we run without any break. Luckily I came to know about Openshift in one of my recent projects and checked their pricing. I was surpised to see that they are also offering some free plans.


Openshift is a service provided by Redhat. They are offering various plans and it includes a free plan which lets us host upto three applications for free. Lets see how we can host a django application for free in openshift online.

I'm explaining the steps for deployment from using an Ubuntu system. But most of the methods will remain same irrespective of the operating system.

Versions Used

  • Django - 1.9.2
  • Git - 1.9.1
  • Ubuntu - 14.04
  • Openshift client tools - 1.38.4

Step 1: Setup Openshift account

Go to Openshift site and create an account using your email address. This is free. No credit card or any other payment information required.

Step 2: Setup Openshift client tools

Install Openshift client tools in your system. The tool is available for all the most popular platforms. Instructions for those operating systems can be found in openshift documentation. In case of Ubuntu, use the command

sudo apt-get install rhc

To start the setup, run the command

rhc setup

When asked for server hostname, enter

You can leave it blank, if it is the default value. Then enter your openshift username and password when prompted.

Step 3: Setup Git

If you are not using git, download and install git from Git SCM. You can learn more about git from the presentation on Slideshare.

Step 4: Create your openshift app

Method 1: Login to your openshift account and create an application. After creating the application, clone it to your system using the SSH URL shown under the heading source code.

Method 2: You can also create openshift application using the command

rhc create-app -a <app-name> -t python-2.7

You can use any of these methods to create openshift application. You can select other available python versions also while creating the app. When you create app using the command line you will see output similar to the one given below.

Project Name

Step 5: Configure your django project

Create (or move) your django in the root folder of the cloned openshift repo.

Step 5.1: Add database related settings

Add PostgreSQL database cartridge to your app using command

rhc cartridge add -c postgresql-9.2 -a <app-name>

Adding the cartridge will give a output similar to the one given below.

Project Name

After adding the cartridge, change your database settings as given below.

import urlparse
db_url = urlparse.urlparse(os.environ.get('OPENSHIFT_POSTGRESQL_DB_URL'))

DATABASES = {'default': {
    'ENGINE': 'django.db.backends.postgresql_psycopg2',
    'NAME': os.environ['OPENSHIFT_APP_NAME'],
    'USER': db_url.username,
    'PASSWORD': db_url.password,
    'HOST': db_url.hostname,
    'PORT': db_url.port,

Step 5.2: Configure

Update the content of the file found in the root folder of the repo.

import os, sys


os.environ['DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE'] = '<app-name>.settings'

virtenv = os.environ['OPENSHIFT_PYTHON_DIR'] + '/virtenv/'

os.environ['PYTHON_EGG_CACHE'] = os.path.join(virtenv, 'lib/python2.7/site-packages')

virtualenv = os.path.join(virtenv, 'bin/')
    execfile(virtualenv, dict(__file__=virtualenv))
except IOError:

# IMPORTANT: Put any additional includes below this line.  If placed above this
# line, it's possible required libraries won't be in your searchable path

from django.core.wsgi import get_wsgi_application
application = get_wsgi_application()

Replace the <app-name> with your app name.

Step 5.3: Create requirements.txt

Create requirements.txt using the command

pip freeze > requirements.txt

in the root folder of your application, if you haven't done this already. This will be used to install the dependencies for your application.

Step 5.4: Configure post deployment action hook

Post deployment action hook can be used to place the commands that should be run in server deployment of the product. There will be a hidden folder named .openshift in the root folder of the app. Inside that folder create a file named post_deploy if it doesn't exist.

The file should contain the following content

source ${OPENSHIFT_HOMEDIR}python-2.7/virtenv/bin/activate

export PYTHON_EGG_CACHE=${OPENSHIFT_HOME_DIR}python-2.7/virtenv/lib/python-2.7/site-packages

echo "Executing 'python ${OPENSHIFT_REPO_DIR}mywebsite/ syncdb --noinput'"
python "$OPENSHIFT_REPO_DIR" migrate --noinput

echo "Executing 'python ${OPENSHIFT_REPO_DIR}mywebsite/ collectstatic --noinput -v0'"
python "$OPENSHIFT_REPO_DIR" collectstatic --noinput -v0

Here we are running the commands for database migrations and collecting static files. If you need to run more commands, you can add them here.

Step 6: Deploy to openshift

Commit your changes using the commands

git add .
git commit -am "Initial commit"

You can give a commit message of your choice. After committing, push the application to heroku using the command

git push origin master

After pushing the code, you will be access your django app using the openshift app's URL which you get while creating the app.

Step 7: Viewing app details

You can view app details using the command

rhc show-app <app-name>

It will give an output similar to the one given below.

Project Name

You can view your app's state using the command

rhc show-app <app-name> --state

It will give an output similar to the one given below.

Project Name

Step 8: Adding custom domain (optional)

If you like to use custom domain for your openshift application, you can do so by adding the domain to your openshift app and configuring CNAME in your domain DNS editor. Add the domain to your openshift app using the following command.

rhc alias add <app-name> <custom domain name>

Configure CNAME in your domain DNS editor with host as www and Points to as your app's openshift URL. Now you should be able to access your app in your custom domain.

Now we have successfully deployed a django application on openshift. Feel free to post your feedback and questions as comments.