Getting Started

There are too many options and too much difference between various distributions (e.g. Fedora, Debian, any one of the BSDs) for us to docment from start to finish how to deploy Inboxen for a majority for people wishing to deploy this software for themselves. We have often been frustrated by projects for listing Debian package names when I’m using Fedora, or listing outdated package names entirely. As such, you’re expected to be familiar with the following:

  • A webserver and deploying WSGI applications to that server.

  • A mail-server and forwarding mail to another server.

  • Setting up a message queue with either RabbitMQ or Redis.

  • Managing a cache like Memcache.

We understand that this will make deploying Inboxen a far more daunting task, but we find that preferable to masses of documentation of unknown quality.


To use Inboxen, you’ll need the following:

  • Python 3, including the following:

    • Development headers (usually in a package called python3-devel or python-dev. If you installed via brew or from source, these headers will already be there.

    • pip

    • virtualenv

  • Git

  • NodeJS and npm

  • GCC

  • GNU Make

  • PostgreSQL

    • pg_config needs to be in your $PATH


Let’s get started!

$ git clone
$ cd Inboxen
$ virtualenv-3 env
$ . env/bin/activate
(env) $ pip install -r requirements.txt
(env) $ npm install
(env) $ touch inboxen.config

At this point we should add some basic configuration. Open inboxen.config with your favourite text editor and add the following:

# some_random_string should be replaced by an actual random string, it is
# used for various cryptographic functions and should be kept secret
secret_key: some_random_string

Now we’ve got some configuration, let’s finish the setup:

(env) $ ./ migrate
(env) $ make static
(env) $ mkdir -p run logs
(env) $ make salmon-start celery-start

Finally, there are some external services that you will need to configure:

  • Your WSGI daemon needs to be configured to use your virtualenv (found in env/) and use the script inboxen/ You should also set your current working directory to same folder the contains Refer to your WSGI daemon’s documentation for details on how to do that.

  • Your webserver or your WSGI daemon (depending on your configuration) should serve /static/ from static_content.

  • Your mailserver should forward mail to localhost:8823 via SMTP

Additional configuration

There are a number of other configuration options that you can use. See The Setting File for all available settings.

Additional Python packages

You can also install additional Python packages to enable certain features. For example, let’s say that we want to use Memcache as our cahce backend. Create a file called and add the following:

-r requirements.txt


As well as the Memcache backend, if you’re not using RabbitMQ for your task queue you will need to install extra package for Celery. Those packages should be added to as well. Refer to the Celery documentation for details.


You’ll have to enable Memcache in your inboxen.config file before using it. The same applies to using a different Celery broker.

Always pin your dependencies!

(env) $ pip-compile -U --output-file local-reqs.txt
(env) $ pip-sync local-reqs.txt

make rules

As you’ve seen already, we provide a number of make rules for common tasks. You can add your own in For example, you might want to have a rule to install dependencies:

.PHONY: install-local-deps
install-local: install-js-deps
    pip-sync local-reqs.txt

This would allow you to run the following:

(env) $ make install-local-deps


(env) $ make salmon-stop celery-setop
(env) $ git pull

If you specified additional Python packages, then update your pinned dependencies:

(env) $ pip-compile -U --output-file local-reqs.txt

Otherwise, skip this step.

Install updated packages and compile various assets:

(env) $ pip-sync local-reqs.txt || pip-sync requirements.txt
(env) $ npm install
(env) $ ./ migrate
(env) $ make static

Finally, restart services:

(env) $ make salmon-start celery-start
(env) $ touch inboxen/