Kuma uses Docker for local development and integration testing, and we are transitioning to Docker containers for deployment as well.

Current Status of Dockerization:

  • Kuma developers are using Docker for daily development and maintenance tasks. Staff developers primarily use Docker for Mac. Other staff members and contributors use Docker’s Ubuntu packages.
  • The development environment can use a lot of resources. On Docker for Mac, the environment runs well with 6 CPUs and 10 GB of memory dedicated to Docker. It can be run successfully on 2 CPUs and 2 GB of memory.
  • The Docker development environment is evolving rapidly, to address issues found during development and to move toward a containerized design. You may need to regularly reset your environment to get the current changes.
  • The Docker development environment doesn’t fully support a ‘production-like’ environment. For example, we don’t have a documented configuration for running with an SSL connection.
  • When the master branch is updated, the kuma_base image is refreshed and published to DockerHub. This image contains system packages and third-party libraries.
  • Our TravisCI builds include a target that build Docker containers and runs the tests inside.
  • Our Jenkins server builds and publishes Docker images, and runs integration tests using Docker.
  • We are documenting tips and tricks on the Troubleshooting page.
  • Feel free to ask for help on IRC at #mdndev or on discourse.

Docker setup

  1. Install the Docker platform, following Docker’s instructions for your operating system, such as Docker for Mac for MacOS, or for your Linux distribution. Linux users will also want to install Docker Compose and follow post-install instructions to confirm that the development user can run Docker commmands.

    To confirm that Docker is installed correctly, run:

    docker run hello-world

    If you find any error using docker commands without sudo visit using docker as non-root user.

  2. Clone the kuma Git repository, if you haven’t already:

    git clone --recursive

    If you think you might be submitting pull requests, consider forking the repository first, and then cloning your fork of it.

  3. Ensure you are in the existing or newly cloned kuma working copy:

    cd kuma
  4. Initialize and customize .env:

    cp .env
    vim .env  # Or your favorite editor

    Linux users should set the UID parameter in .env (i.e. change #UID=1000 to UID=1000) to avoid file permission issues when mixing docker-compose and docker commands. MacOS users do not need to change any of the defaults to get started. Note that there are settings in this file that can be useful when debugging, however.

  5. Pull the Docker images and build the containers:

    docker-compose pull
    docker-compose build

    (The build command is effectively a no-op at this point because the pull command just downloaded pre-built docker images.)

  6. Start the containers in the background:

    docker-compose up -d

Load the sample database

Download the sample database with either of the following wget or curl (installed by default on macOS) commands:

wget -N
curl -O

Next, upload that sample database into the Kuma web container with:

docker-compose exec web bash -c "zcat mdn_sample_db.sql.gz | ./ dbshell"

(This command can be adjusted to restore from an uncompressed database, or directly from a mysqldump command.)

Then run the following command:

docker-compose exec web ./ migrate

This will ensure the sample database is in sync with your version of Kuma.

Compile locales

Localized string databases are included in their source form, and need to be compiled to their binary form:

docker-compose exec web make localecompile

Dozens of lines of warnings will be printed:

cd locale; ./ .
./af/LC_MESSAGES/django.po:2: warning: header field 'PO-Revision-Date' still has the initial default value
./af/LC_MESSAGES/django.po:2: warning: header field 'Last-Translator' still has the initial default value
./zu/LC_MESSAGES/javascript.po:2: warning: header field 'PO-Revision-Date' still has the initial default value
./zu/LC_MESSAGES/javascript.po:2: warning: header field 'Last-Translator' still has the initial default value

Warnings are OK, and will be fixed as translators update the strings on Pontoon. If there is an error, the output will end with the error, such as:

./az/LC_MESSAGES/django.po:263: 'msgid' and 'msgstr' entries do not both end with '\n'
msgfmt: found 1 fatal error

These need to be fixed by a Kuma developer. Notify them in the #mdndev IRC channel or open a bug. You can continue with installation, but non-English locales will not be localized.

Generate static assets

Static assets such as CSS and JS are included in source form, and need to be compiled to their final form:

docker-compose exec web make build-static

A few thousand lines will be printed, like:

## Generating JavaScript translation catalogs ##
processing language en_US
processing language af
processing language ar
## Compiling (Sass), collecting, and building static files ##
Copying '/app/kuma/static/img/embed/promos/survey.svg'
Copying '/app/kuma/static/styles/components/home/column-callout.scss'
Copying '/app/build/locale/jsi18n/fy-NL/javascript.js'
Post-processed 'build/styles/editor-locale-ar.css' as 'build/styles/editor-locale-ar.css'
Post-processed 'build/styles/locale-ln.css' as 'build/styles/locale-ln.css'
Post-processed 'build/styles/editor-locale-pt-BR.css' as 'build/styles/editor-locale-pt-BR.css'
1870 static files copied to '/app/static', 125 post-processed.

Visit the homepage

Open the homepage at http://localhost:8000 . You’ve installed Kuma!

Prepare for front-end development (optional)

When doing front-end development on your local machine, you’ll probably want to run gulp, to rebuild front-end assets as they edited, rather than running make build-static after each change.

First, install Node.js v8, using the install instructions for your OS.

Next, from the root directory of your Kuma repository, install gulp and dependencies:

npm install

Now, you can run gulp (probably from its own shell):


Alternatively, you can install gulp globally:

sudo npm install -g

And then run gulp more simply:


Create an admin user

Many Kuma settings require access to the Django admin, including configuring social login. It is useful to create an admin account with password access for local development.

If you want to create a new admin account, use createsuperuser:

docker-compose exec web ./ createsuperuser

This will prompt you for a username, email address (a fake address like will work), and a password.

If your database has an existing account that you want to use, run the management command. Replace YOUR_USERNAME with your username and YOUR_PASSWORD with your password:

docker-compose run --rm web ./ ihavepower YOUR_USERNAME \
--password YOUR_PASSWORD

With a password-enabled admin account, you can log into Django admin at http://localhost:8000/admin/login/

Enable GitHub authentication (optional)

To enable GitHub authentication, you’ll need to register an OAuth application on GitHub, with settings like:

As an admin user, add a django-allauth social app for GitHub:

  • Provider: GitHub.
  • Name: MDN Development.
  • Client id: <your GitHub App Client ID>.
  • Secret key: <your GitHub App Client Secret>.
  • Sites: Move locahost:8000 from “Available sites” to “Chosen sites”.

Now you can sign in with GitHub.

To associate your password-only admin account with GitHub:

  1. Login with your password at http://localhost:8000/admin/login/.
  2. Go to the Homepage at
  3. Click your username at the top to view your profile.
  4. Click Edit to edit your profile.
  5. Under My Profiles, click Use your GitHub account to sign in.

To create a new account with GitHub, use the regular “Sign in” widget at the top of any page.

With social accounts are enabled, you can disable the admin password in the Django shell:

docker-compose exec web ./ shell_plus
>>> me = User.objects.get(username='admin_username')
>>> me.set_unusable_password()
>>> exit()

Interact with the Docker containers

The current directory is mounted as the /app folder in the web and worker containers. Changes made to your local directory are usually reflected in the running containers. To force the issue, the containers for specified services can be restarted:

docker-compose restart web worker

You can connect to a running container to run commands. For example, you can open an interactive shell in the web container:

docker-compose exec web /bin/bash
make bash  # Same command, less typing

To view the logs generated by a container:

docker-compose logs web

To continuously view logs from all containers:

docker-compose logs -f

To stop the containers:

docker-compose stop

For further information, see the Docker documentation, such as the Docker Overview and the documentation for your operating system. You can try Docker’s guided tutorials, and apply what you’ve learned on the Kuma Docker environment.