Managing Open edX Tips and Tricks

NOTE: These are instructions for the Full Stack or Native configuration, not the Developer Stack.

Managing the server commands

login to the server and change to the /edx/app/edxapp/edx-platform directory to use

  • list all commands
    sudo -u www-data /edx/bin/python.edxapp ./ lms --settings production help
  • create a final grade and generate a certificate for a single user
    sudo -u www-data /edx/bin/python.edxapp ./ lms --settings production regenerate_user -u -c edX/Open_DemoX/edx_demo_course

  • create or upgrade a user to superuser

  • set or change password 
    sudo -u www-data /edx/bin/python.edxapp ./ lms --settings production changepassword user
  • launch the django shell
     sudo -u www-data /edx/bin/python.edxapp ./ lms --settings production shell
  • importing a course from github

Example using the demo course

  cd /var/tmp
  git clone
  cd /edx/app/edxapp/edx-platform
  sudo -u www-data /edx/bin/python.edxapp ./ cms --settings=production import /edx/var/edxapp/data /var/tmp/edx-demo-course 
  • run migrations

    sudo su edxapp -s /bin/bash
    cd ~
    source edxapp_env
    python /edx/app/edxapp/edx-platform/ {lms/cms} syncdb --settings=production 
  • delete course 

          sudo -u www-data /edx/bin/python.edxapp ./ cms --settings=production delete_course Organization/CourseNumber/CourseRun 
  • delete course in Cypress version  
          sudo -u www-data /edx/bin/python.edxapp ./ cms --settings=production delete_course course-v1:Organization+CourseNumber+CourseRun commit

See help and help <cmd> for more information!

MySQL access

First install jq, then you should be able to just run this. Note that you lms.auth.json location may be different:

sudo apt-get install jq

sudo mysql $(jq -r '.DATABASES.default | "-u" + .USER + " -p\"" + .PASSWORD + "\" -h" + .HOST + " -P" + ( .PORT | tostring ) + " " + .NAME' /opt/openedx/lms.auth.json)

Use runserver instead of gunicorn (helpful for debugging)

  • Shutdown the lms and cms (and optionally the workers)
sudo /edx/bin/supervisorctl
> stop edxapp: edxapp_worker:
  • Launch the lms using the debug server
cd /edx/app/edxapp/edx-platform
sudo -u www-data /edx/bin/python.edxapp ./ lms runserver 8000 --settings production 

When you connect your browser requests will go to the debug server instead of gunicorn through nginx. You will still need to compile static assets of they change

See what services are running

sudo /edx/bin/supervisorctl status

you should see something like the following:

certs                            RUNNING    pid 19862, uptime 0:00:04
edxapp:cms                       RUNNING    pid 19884, uptime 0:00:03
edxapp:lms                       RUNNING    pid 19879, uptime 0:00:03
edxapp_worker:cms_default_4      RUNNING    pid 19915, uptime 0:00:03
edxapp_worker:cms_high_1         RUNNING    pid 19901, uptime 0:00:03
edxapp_worker:cms_low_3          RUNNING    pid 19890, uptime 0:00:03
edxapp_worker:lms_default_3      RUNNING    pid 19897, uptime 0:00:03
edxapp_worker:lms_high_4         RUNNING    pid 19922, uptime 0:00:03
edxapp_worker:lms_high_mem_2     RUNNING    pid 19894, uptime 0:00:03
edxapp_worker:lms_low_1          RUNNING    pid 19908, uptime 0:00:03
forum                            RUNNING    pid 19855, uptime 0:00:04
ora                              RUNNING    pid 19875, uptime 0:00:04
ora_celery                       RUNNING    pid 19866, uptime 0:00:04
xqueue                           RUNNING    pid 19853, uptime 0:00:04
xqueue_consumer                  RUNNING    pid 19860, uptime 0:00:04

Restarting Services

  • LMS - sudo /edx/bin/supervisorctl restart lms
  • CMS - sudo /edx/bin/supervisorctl restart cms
  • Workers - sudo /edx/bin/supervisorctl restart edxapp_worker:

(Note: the colon character : at the end of the line is mandatory!)

Updating Versions using edX repos

Use the /edx/bin/update to update repo versions on the server.

Allowed repo names [edx-platform, xqueue, cs_comments_service, xserver, ease, edx-ora, configuration, read-only-certificate-code]


  • sudo /edx/bin/update edx-platform master - change edx-platform to use the latest on the master branch
  • sudo /edx/bin/update cs_comments_service master - change the forums service to use the latest on the master branch

Generate certificates after a course ends

Note: the and users have been pre-added to the certificate whitelist in the vagrant image so you can generate a certificate even if they have not passed the course

  • Certificates should only be generated after the course ends. The reason for this is because we store a final grade in the certificate table. To ensure your course has ended login to studio and confirm the end date end date
  • Once the end date has passed for a course the users will see that 'final course details' are being wrapped up. final course details
  • Next you can either run the ungenerated_certs django admin command or the regenerate_user django admin command to generate certificates for an entire course or for a single user. This command does the following:
    • Grade the student
    • Update the generated certificate table with the students score and certificate status
    • Send a certificate request to the certificate process
    • The certificate server will generate a pdf, sign it and copy it to the certificate publish directory
    • The student's dashboard will update to show the link to the pdf and the validation page.

cert download

These are the django commands to generate certificates for an entire course or a single student. Note the --insecure flag which is so that http is used for the lms callback url. It is not necessary if https is supported on the lms.

# Generate or regenerate a certificate for a single user in a course

sudo -u www-data /edx/bin/python.edxapp ./ lms --settings production regenerate_user -u -c edX/Open_DemoX/edx_demo_course --insecure

# Grade and generate certs for all users in a course

sudo -u www-data /edx/bin/python.edxapp ./ lms --settings production ungenerated_certs -c edX/Open_DemoX/edx_demo_course --insecure

Using an edx-platform fork

  • sudo rm -rf /edx/app/edxapp/edx-platform - to change the remote you need to remove the existing edx-platform checkout
  • Add the following line to /edx/app/edx_ansible/server-vars.yml - edx_platform_repo: "<user>/edx-platform.git"
  • sudo /edx/bin/update edx-platform master - update edx-platform using the forked repo

Compile assets manually

To compile javascript and css outside of the update script run the following commands:

  • sudo -H -u edxapp bash
  • source /edx/app/edxapp/edxapp_env
  • cd /edx/app/edxapp/edx-platform
  • paver update_assets cms --settings=production
  • paver update_assets lms --settings=production

Suggest issuing the following to debug issues with r.js optimizer issues

  • python cms --settings=production collectstatic --noinput
  • python lms --settings=production collectstatic --noinput

Generating dummy translations

To generate dummy translation strings for i18n and right-to-left testing:

  • sudo -H -u edxapp bash
  • source /edx/app/edxapp/edxapp_env
  • cd /edx/app/edxapp/edx-platform
  • paver i18n_dummy


Unable to connect to the LMS

Check to see if nginx is running:

  • sudo service nginx status
  • sudo service nginx start

NGINX logs are located in /edx/var/log/nginx NGINX configurations are located in/edx/app/nginx/sites-enabled

Check to see if the lms/cms is running

  • sudo /edx/bin/supervisorctl status edxapp:

If you are still unable to connect to the LMS run the following commands:

  • sudo service nginx stop
  • sudo service supervisor stop
  • sudo service supervisor.devpi stop
  • sudo pkill -u www-data
  • sudo service nginx start
  • sudo service supervisor start
  • sudo service supervisor.devpi start
  • stop everything except the LMS and CMS
sudo /edx/bin/supervisorctl stop discern discern_celery \
  forum ora ora_celery xqueue xqueue_consumer xserver edxapp_worker:
  • sudo tail -f /edx/var/log/{lms,cms,nginx}/*log

While tailing the log files try to connect your browser to the LMS or Studio

Log files

  • The Full stack sends all application logs to rsyslog which writes config files to the/edx/var/log directory.
  • Supervisor logs stderr and stdout, its logs are located in /edx/var/log/supervisor

server-vars.yml does not make any changes after running the update bash script

Take a look at this line in the /edx/bin/update bash script to see where the server-vars.yml file should be:

  • This means you are using an older version of the configuration repo, so create and add your settings in /edx/var/edx_ansible/server-vars.yml:
if [[ -f /edx/var/edx_ansible/server-vars.yml ]]; then
  • The following line in /edx/bin/update means you are using the current version of the configuration repo. If so, create and modify your settings in /edx/app/edx_ansible/server-vars.yml:
if [[ -f /edx/app/edx_ansible/server-vars.yml ]]; then
  • Notes: this may be changed in the future