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mogileFS for Django

11:28 pm

In preparation for DjangoCon, I thought I’d release a little bit of quickly-written-code (read: easily improvable!) that we use to serve our avatars on Fluther.

Here’s the basic rundown:

  1. Get mogilefs on your box
  2. Patch django to support different FileBackends
  3. Get data into mogile
  4. Get data out of mogile

Getting mogile

We use Ubuntu on our production boxes, and it just so happens that I’m the debian maintainer for mogile. So. Get the packages from (add the entries for your distro onto your source.list, run apt-get update then apt-get install mogilefsd mogstored). Setting up mogile is a little beyond this document, but check out the google group if you have any troubles.


Patch Django (optional)

I see that Marty’s work has been incoporated into Django’s 1.0 beta (congrats, Marty!), but if you’re running an older version (like we are), you’ll need to patch your codebase to support file storage backends. See the patch at

Install the mogile backend

Download the zip of the files and throw and somewhere on your pythonpath. The file contains some example code, as well as an urls entry. 

Set up the mogile backend

The mogile filestorage backend is fairly simple: it uses URLs (or, rather, parts of URLs) as keys into the mogile database. When the user requests a file stored by mogile (say, an avatar), the URL gets passed to a view which, using a client to the mogile tracker, retrieves the “correct” path (the path that points to the actual file data). The view will then either return the path(s) to perlbal to reproxy, or, if you’re not using perlbal to reproxy (which you should), it serves the data of the file directly from django.

In order for the backend to work, we need to add a few settings variables:

  • MOGILEFS_DOMAIN: The mogile domain that files should read from/written to, e.g “production”
  • MOGILEFS_TRACKERS: A list of trackers to connect to, e.g. [“″,””]
  • MOGILEFS_MEDIA_URL (optional): The prefix for URLs that point to mogile files. This is used in a similar way to MEDIA_URL, e.g. “/mogilefs/”
  • SERVE_WITH_PERLBAL: Boolean that, when True, will pass the paths back in the response in the ‘X-REPROXY-URL’ header. If False, django will serve all mogile media files itself (bad idea for production, but useful if you’re testing on a setup that doesn’t have perlbal running)
  • DEFAULT_FILE_STORAGE: This is the class that’s used for the backend. You’ll want to set this to “” (or wherever you’ve installed the backend) 


Gettings files into mogile 

The great thing about file backends is that we just need to specify the backend in the model file and everything is taken care for us — all the default save() methods work correctly.

For Fluther, we have two main media types we use mogile for: avatars and thumbnails. Mogile defines “classes” that dictate how each type of file is replicated — so you can make sure you have 3 copies of the original avatar but only 1 of the thumbnail.

In order for classes to behave nicely with the backend framework, we’ve had to do a little tomfoolery. (This is something that may change in future versions of the filestorage framework).

Here’s what the file looks like for the avatars:

from django.core.filestorage import storage
# TODO: Find a better way to deal with classes. Maybe a generator?
class AvatarStorage(storage.__class__):
    mogile_class = 'avatar' 
class ThumbnailStorage(storage.__class__):
    mogile_class = 'thumb'

class Avatar(models.Model):
    user = models.ForeignKey(User, null=True, blank=True)
    image = models.ImageField(storage=AvatarStorage())
    thumb = models.ImageField(storage=ThumbnailStorage())

Each of the custom storage classes defines a “class” attribute which gets passed to the mogile backend behind the scenes.  If you don’t want to worry about mogile classes, don’t need to define a custom storage engine or specify it in the field — the default should work just fine.

Serving files from mogile

 Now, all we need to do is plug in the view that serves up mogile data. Here’s what we use:

urlpatterns += patterns('',
    (r'^%s(?P<key>.*)' % settings.MOGILEFS_MEDIA_URL[1:], 'panda.main.filestorage.serve_mogilefs_file')

Any url beginning with the value of MOGILEFS_MEDIA_URL will get passed to our view. Since MOGILEFS_MEDIA_URL requires a leading slash (like MEDIA_URL), we strip that off and pass the rest of the url over to the view.

That’s it! Happy mogiling!