Installation and Getting Started

On this page, we will take you through the process of setting up PolicyKit, both for local development and on an Ubuntu server.

Getting Started

PolicyKit requires Python 3. Before you install, we recommend that you activate a Python 3+ virtual environment.
To begin, clone the PolicyKit GitHub repository (or your fork) and navigate to the python project root:
git clone
cd policykit/policykit
From here, run the following commands to install PolicyKit’s dependencies:
pip install --upgrade pip
pip install -r requirements.txt
Next, run the following command to create a file to store your API keys:
PolicyKit requires a file to log to. By default, it logs to the file /var/log/django/debug.log. To change this, set the POLICYKIT_LOG_FILE environment variable or edit the LOGGING object in directly.
To verify that you have set the PolicyKit server up correctly, run the following command:
python runserver
To use PolicyKit, you must set up your own database. You can use the default sqlite or mysql or another database of your choice. Edit the DATABASES field in to point to the right database. Django will create the database as long as the parent directory exists.
Run the following command to create and set up the database:
python migrate
Finally, you need to set up PolicyKit’s governance starter kits. Run the following command to enter the shell:
python shell_plus

From the shell prompt, run the following command to create the starterkits:


Open PolicyKit in the browser at http://localhost:8000/main

Running PolicyKit on a Server

Thus far, we have been run in Ubuntu 18.04 and Ubuntu 20.04, and the below instructions should work for both.
  1. Add PolicyKit to the server by uploading the codebase or using git clone.

  2. Follow this guide to install Python3 and to create a virtual environment for PolicyKit.

  3. Install the requirements to the virtual environment with pip install -r requirements.txt.

  4. Finish the earlier guide to setting up PolicyKit.

  5. Make the following additional changes to

    • Set the SERVER_URL field

    • You can leave the platform integration API keys/secrets empty for now. Follow the instructions under “Set up Integrations” to set up each integration.

  6. Make the following additional changes to policykit/

    • Update the ALLOWED_HOSTS field to point to your host.

    • Update that the database path under DATABASES. Recommended: set the database path to /var/databases/policykit/db.sqlite3. Make sure the directory exists.

    • Set DEBUG to False

    • Set SECRET_KEY to a new Django secret key. Generate a key with this command:

      python shell -c 'from import utils; print(utils.get_random_secret_key())'
  7. Next, run the following command to collect static files into a static/ folder:

python collectstatic

Deploy with Apache web server

Now that you have PolicyKit installed on your server, you can deploy it on Apache web server. Make sure you have a domain dedicated to Policykit that is pointing to your server’s IP address.


In the remaining examples, make sure to substitute the following values:

$POLICYKIT_REPO is the path to your policykit repository root. (/policykit)

$POLICYKIT_ENV is the path to your policykit virtual environment. (/environments/policykit_env)

$SERVER_NAME is your server name. (

  1. Install apache2

    sudo apt-get install apache2 libapache2-mod-wsgi-py3
  2. Create a new apache2 config file:

    cd /etc/apache2/sites-available
    # replace SERVER_NAME (ie
    cp default-ssl.conf SERVER_NAME.conf
  3. Edit the config file to look like this:

    <IfModule mod_ssl.c>
            <VirtualHost _default_:443>
                    ServerName $SERVER_NAME
                    ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
                    Alias /static $POLICYKIT_REPO/policykit/static
                    <Directory $POLICYKIT_REPO/policykit/static>
                            Require all granted
                    # Grant access to file. This is the Django server.
                    <Directory $POLICYKIT_REPO/policykit/policykit>
                                    Require all granted
                    # 🚨 IMPORTANT: Restrict internal endpoints to local traffic 🚨
                    <Location /metagov/internal>
                            Require ip YOUR-IP-ADDRESS
                    WSGIDaemonProcess policykit python-home=$POLICYKIT_ENV python-path=$POLICYKIT_REPO/policykit
                    WSGIProcessGroup policykit
                    WSGIScriptAlias / $POLICYKIT_REPO/policykit/policykit/
                    # .. REST ELIDED
  4. Test your config with apache2ctl configtest. You should get a “Syntax OK” as a response.

  5. Enable your site:

    # activate your config
    a2ensite /etc/apache2/sites-available/$SERVER_NAME.conf
    # disable the default config
    sudo a2dissite 000-default-le-ssl.conf
  6. Get an SSL certificate and set it up to auto-renew using LetsEncrypt:

    sudo apt install certbot python3-certbot-apache
    sudo certbot --apache
  7. Add the certificates to your $SERVER_NAME.conf file:

    SSLCertificateFile /etc/letsencrypt/live/$SERVER_NAME/fullchain.pem
    SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/letsencrypt/live/$SERVER_NAME/privkey.pem
  8. Reload the config:

    systemctl reload apache2
  9. Give the Apache2 user access to the database directory and the logging directory (update paths as needed):

    sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/log/django
    sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/databases/policykit
  10. Load your site in the browser and navigate to /login. You should see a site titled “Django adminstration” with options to connect to Slack, Reddit, Discourse, and Discord. Before you can install PolicyKit into any of these platforms, you’ll need to set the necessary client IDs and client in Follow the setup instructions for each integration in Integrations.

Check for errors at /var/log/apache2/error.log and /var/log/django/debug.log (or whatever logging path you have defined in

  1. Any time you update the code, you’ll need to run systemctl reload apache2 to reload the server.

Set up Celery

PolicyKit uses Celery to run scheduled tasks. Follow these instructions to run a celery daemon on your Ubuntu machine using systemd. For more information about configuration options, see the Celery Daemonization.


Using PolicyKit with Metagov? These configuration files are designed specifically to work with the setup where PolicyKit and Metagov are deployed together. PolicyKit and Metagov will use separate celery daemons that use separate RabbitMQ virtual hosts, configured using CELERY_BROKER_URL.

Create RabbitMQ virtual host

Install RabbitMQ and create a virtual host:

sudo apt-get install rabbitmq-server

sudo rabbitmqctl add_user 'username' 'password'
sudo rabbitmqctl add_vhost 'policykit-vhost'
sudo rabbitmqctl set_permissions -p 'policykit-vhost' 'username' '.*' '.*' '.*'

In policykit/, set the CELERY_BROKER_URL as follows, substituting values for your RabbitMQ username, password, and virtual host:


Create celery user

If you don’t already have a celery user, create one:

sudo useradd celery -d /home/celery -b /bin/bash

Give the celery user access to necessary pid and log folders:

sudo useradd celery -d /home/celery -b /bin/bash
sudo mkdir /var/log/celery
sudo chown -R celery:celery /var/log/celery
sudo chmod -R 755 /var/log/celery

sudo mkdir /var/run/celery
sudo chown -R celery:celery /var/run/celery
sudo chmod -R 755 /var/run/celery

The celery user will also need write access to the Django log file and the database. To give celery access, create a group that contains both www-data (the apache2 user) and celery. For example, if your Django logs are in /var/log/django and your database is in /var/databases:

sudo groupadd www-and-celery
sudo usermod -a -G www-and-celery celery
sudo usermod -a -G www-and-celery www-data

# give the group read-write access to logs
sudo chgrp -R www-and-celery /var/log/django
sudo chmod -R 775 /var/log/django

# give the group read-write access to database
sudo chgrp -R www-and-celery /var/databases
sudo chmod -R 775 /var/databases

Create Celery configuration files

Next, you’ll need to create three Celery configuration files for PolicyKit:



# Absolute or relative path to the 'celery' command:

# App instance to use

# How to call

# Extra command-line arguments to the worker
CELERYD_OPTS="--time-limit=300 --concurrency=8"

# - %n will be replaced with the first part of the nodename.
# - %I will be replaced with the current child process index
#   and is important when using the prefork pool to avoid race conditions.

# you may wish to add these options for Celery Beat


Description=Celery Service

ExecStart=/bin/sh -c '${CELERY_BIN} multi start ${CELERYD_NODES} \
-A ${CELERY_APP} --pidfile=${CELERYD_PID_FILE} \
ExecStop=/bin/sh -c '${CELERY_BIN} multi stopwait ${CELERYD_NODES} \
ExecReload=/bin/sh -c '${CELERY_BIN} multi restart ${CELERYD_NODES} \
-A ${CELERY_APP} --pidfile=${CELERYD_PID_FILE} \



Description=Celery Beat Service

ExecStart=/bin/sh -c '${CELERY_BIN} -A ${CELERY_APP}  \
beat --pidfile=${CELERYBEAT_PID_FILE} \
--logfile=${CELERYBEAT_LOG_FILE} --loglevel=${CELERYD_LOG_LEVEL} \

After creating the files (and after any time you change them) run the following command:
sudo systemctl daemon-reload
Finally, run the following commands to start the celery daemon:
sudo service rabbitmq-server start
sudo systemctl start celery-policykit celerybeat-policykit
Verify that there are no errors with celery and celerybeat by running these commands:
sudo systemctl status celery-policykit
sudo systemctl status celerybeat-policykit


If celery or celerybeat fail to start up as a service, try running celery directly to see if there are errors in your code:
celery -A policykit worker -l info --uid celery
celery -A policykit beat -l info --uid celery --schedule=/var/run/celery/celerybeat-policykit-schedule

If celerybeat experiences errors starting up, check the logs at /var/log/celery/policykit_beat.log.

Set up Integrations

Before your instance of PolicyKit can be installed onto external platforms, you’ll need to go through setup steps for each integration that you want to support:


  1. Deploy an instance of Metagov on the same machine as PolicyKit. See Installing Metagov for instructions.

  2. In the .env file in Metagov, set the URL for receiving events: DRIVER_EVENT_RECEIVER_URL=[POLICYKIT_URL]/metagov/internal/action

  3. To enable Metagov in PolicyKit, set the METAGOV_URL in your file to point to your Metagov instance.

  4. Ensure that /metagov/internal is restricted to local traffic. Follow the Apache2 example above.


The Slack integration occurs through Metagov. Follow the setup instructions for the Metagov Slack Plugin to create a new Slack App to use with PolicyKit.


  1. Go to

  2. Click “New Application” to create your PolicyKit application

  3. Under OAuth2, add the redirect URL [POLICYKIT_URL]/discord/oauth

  4. Add a new Bot and enable these options:

    • Public Bot

    • Requires OAuth2 Code Grant

    • Presence Intent

    • Server Members Intent

  5. Copy the bot token into DISCORD_BOT_TOKEN in file on your PolicyKit server.

  6. On the OAuth2 page, get the Client ID and Client Secret and copy them into

  7. Reload apache2: systemctl reload apache2

  8. To test it out, open [POLICYKIT_URL]/main and click “Install PolicyKit to Discord.”

  9. Now, you should be able to use “Sign in with Discord” to access the PolicyKit dashboard for the community you just installed PolicyKit to.


There is no admin setup required for Discourse. Each Discourse community that installs PolicyKit needs to register the PolicyKit auth redirect separately.


  1. Create a new app at


  3. Reload apache2: systemctl reload apache2