Setup and Configuration

This section covers how to run addons-server locally. See github actions for running in CI. This should be where you start if you are running addons-server for the first time. Setting up the local development environment for addons-server involves configuring Docker Compose to run the necessary services. Follow these steps to get started:


  • Ensure Docker and Docker Compose are installed on your system.

  • Clone the addons-server repository from GitHub:

    git clone
    cd addons-server

Running for the first time

When running the project for the first time, execute:

make initialize_docker

This command will run:

  • make up to start the Docker containers.

  • make initialize to set up the initial Docker environment, including database initialization and data population. Detailed steps for make initialize will be covered in Section 6 on Data Management.

If you run make up without running make initialize the docker compose services will be running, but you will not have a database and the app might crash or otherwise be unusable.

Similarly, you can run make initialize even after you have an up and running environment, but this will totally reset your database as if you were running the application fresh.

Updating your environment

TLDR; Just run make up.

The make up command ensures all necessary files are created on the host and starts the Docker Compose project, including volumes, containers, and networks. It is meant to be run frequently whenever you want to bring your environment “up”.

Here’s a high-level overview of what make up does:

up: setup docker_mysqld_volume_create docker_extract_deps docker_compose_up
  • setup: Creates configuration files such as .env.

  • docker_mysqld_volume_create: Ensures the MySQL volume is created.

  • docker_extract_deps: Installs dependencies inside the Docker container.

  • docker_compose_up: Starts the Docker containers defined in docker-compose.yml.

What happens if you run make up when your environment is already running? This will result in all services and volumes being recreated as if starting them for the first time, and will clear any local state from the containers. The make up command is idempotent so you can run it over and over.

Shutting down your environment

TLDR; just run make down

The make down command does almost the complete opposite of make up. It stops all docker services and removes locally built images and any used volumes.

Running make down will free up resources on your machine and can help if your environment gets stuck in a difficult to debug state.

A common solution to many problems is to run make down && make up.

Accessing the Development App

  • Add the following entry to your /etc/hosts file to access addons-server via a local domain: olympia.test
  • The web application should now be accessible at http://olympia.test.

  • You can access the web container for debugging and development:

    make shell
  • To access the Django shell within the container:

    make djshell

Configuring your environment

Addons-server runs via docker-compose and can be run in a local environment or on CI. It is highly configurable to meet the requirements for different environments and use cases. Here are some practical ways you can configure how addons-server runs.

Build vs Pull

By default, addons-server builds a docker image tagged local before running the containers as a part of make up. To run addons-server with the local image, just run make up like you normally would. It is the default.

Instead of building, you can configure your environment to run a pulled image instead. To run a pulled image, specify a version or digest when calling make up. E.g make up DOCKER_VERSION=latest to run the latest published version of addons-server.

For typical development it is recommended to use the default built image. It is aggresively cached and most closely reflects the current state of your local repository. Pulling a published image can be useful if you have limited CPU or if you want to run a very specific version of addons-server for testing a Pull request or debugging a currently deployed version.

Version vs Digest

The default behavior is to build the docker image locally, but if you want to run addons-server with a remote image you can specify a docker image version to pull with:

make up DOCKER_VERSION=<version>

Version is the published tag of addons-server and corresponds to mozilla/addons-server:<version>in dockerhub.

Specify a version will configure docker compose to set the [pull policy] to always and specify the image property in the docker compose config to pull the latest build of the specified version. Once, you’ve specified a version subsequent calls to make up will pull the same version consistently see idempotence for more details.

What if you want to run an exact build of addons-server, without fetching later versions that might subsequently get published to the same tag?

You can specify a DOCKER_DIGEST to pull a specific build of addons-server. This can be very useful if you want to guarantee the exact state of the image you are running. This is used in our own CI environments to ensure each job runs with the exact same image built in the run.

make up DOCKER_DIGEST=sha256@abc123

A docker build digest corresponds to the precies state of a docker image. Think of it like a content hash, though it’s a bit more complicated than that. Specifying a build digest means you will always run the exact same version of the image and it will not change the contents of the image.

Our CI workflow builds and pushes a docker image on each run. To run the exact image built during a CI run, copy the image digest from the build job logs. Look for a log line like this:

#36 pushing manifest for

The version for the above image is pr-22395-ci and the digest is sha256:8464804ed645e429ccb3585a50c6003fafd81bd43407d8d4ab575adb8391537d. To run the specific build of the exact run for pr-22395 you would run:

    make up DOCKER_VERSION=pr-22395-ci

And to run, exactly the version built in this run, even if it is not the latest version, you would run:

    make up DOCKER_DIGEST=sha256:8464804ed645e429ccb3585a50c6003fafd81bd43407d8d4ab575adb8391537d

If you specify both a version and digest, digest as the more specific attribute takes precedence.


The make up command and all of its sub-commands are idempotent. That means if the command is repeated with the same inputs you will always get the same result. If you run

    make up DOCKER_VERSION=banana

and then run make up again, the .env file will have a docker tag specifying the version banana. This prevents you from needing to constantly specify parameters over and over. But it also means you have to remember what values you have set for different properties as they can have huge impacts on what is actually running in your environment.

make up logs the current environment specifications to the terminal as it is running so you should always know what exactly is happening in your environment at any given time.

Additionally, by defining all of the critical docker compose variables in a .env file, it means that the behaviour of running commands via make or running the same command directly via the docker CLI should produce the same result.

Though it is highly recommended to use the make commands instead of directly calling docker in your terminal.

Docker Compose Files

  • docker-compose.yml: The primary Docker Compose file defining services, networks, and volumes for local and CI environments.

  • Overrides certain configurations for CI-specific needs, ensuring the environment is optimized for automated testing and builds.

  • docker-compose.deps.yml: Attaches a mount at ./deps to /deps in the container, exposing the contents to the host

  • docker-compose.private.yml: Runs addons-server with the customs service that is only avaiable to Mozilla employees

Our docker compose files rely on substituted values, all of which are included in our .env file for direct CLI compatibility. Any referenced ${VARIABLE} in the docker-compose files will be replaced with the value from the .env file. We have tests that ensure any references are included in the .env file with valid values.

This means when you run make docker_compose_up, the output on your machine will be exactly the same is if you ran docker compose up -d –wait –remove-orphans –force-recreate –quiet-pull directly. You should use make commands, but sometimes you need to debug further what a command is running on the terminal and this architecture allows you to do that.

By following these steps, you can set up your local development environment and understand the existing CI workflows for the addons-server project. For more details on specific commands and configurations, refer to the upcoming sections in this documentation.


Here’s a list of a few of the issues you might face when setting up your development environment

Can’t access the web server?

Check you’ve created a hosts file entry pointing olympia.test to the relevant IP address.

If containers are failing to start use docker compose ps to check their running status.

Another way to find out what’s wrong is to run docker compose logs.

Getting “Programming error [table] doesn’t exist”?

Make sure you’ve run the make initialize_docker step as detailed in the initial setup instructions.

ConnectionError during initialize (elasticsearch container fails to start)

When running make initialize_docker without a working elasticsearch container, you’ll get a ConnectionError. Check the logs with docker compose logs. If elasticsearch is complaining about vm.max_map_count, run this command on your computer or your docker-machine VM:

    sudo sysctl -w vm.max_map_count=262144

This allows processes to allocate more memory map areas.

Connection to elasticsearch timed out (elasticsearch container exits with code 137)

docker compose up -d brings up all containers, but running make initialize_docker causes the elasticsearch container to go down. Running docker compose ps shows Exited (137) against it.

Update default settings in Docker Desktop - we suggest increasing RAM limit to at least 4 GB in the Resources/Advanced section and click on “Apply and Restart”.

Port collisions (nginx container fails to start)

If you’re already running a service on port 80 or 8000 on your host machine, the nginx container will fail to start. This is because the docker-compose.override.yml file tells nginx to listen on port 80 and the web service to listen on port 8000 by default.

This problem will manifest itself by the services failing to start. Here’s an example for the most common case of nginx not starting due to a collision on port 80:

    ERROR: for nginx  Cannot start service nginx:.....
    ...Error starting userland proxy: Bind for unexpected error (Failure EADDRINUSE)
    ERROR: Encountered errors while bringing up the project.

You can check what’s running on that port by using (sudo is required if you’re looking at port < 1024):

    sudo lsof -i :80

We specify the ports nginx listens on in the docker-compose.override.yml file. If you wish to override the ports you can do so by creating a new docker-compose config and starting the containers using that config alongside the default config.

For example, if you create a file called docker-compose-ports.yml:

        - 8880:80

Next, you would stop and start the containers with the following:

    docker compose stop # only needed if running
    docker compose -f docker-compose.yml -f docker-compose-ports.yml up -d

Now the container nginx is listening on 8880 on the host. You can now proxy to the container nginx from the host nginx with the following nginx config:

    server {
        listen       80;
        server_name  olympia.test;
        location / {
            proxy_pass   http://olympia.test:8880;

returned Internal Server Error for API route and version

This can occur if the docker daemon has crashed. Running docker commands will return errors as the CLI cannot communicate with the daemon. The best thing to do is to restart docker and to check your docker memory usage. The most likely cause is limited memory. You can check the make commands to see how you can free up space on your machine.

    docker volume create addons-server_data_mysqld
    request returned Internal Server Error for API route and version http://%2FUsers%2Fwilliam%2F.docker%2Frun%2Fdocker.sock/v1.45/volumes/create, check if the server supports the requested API version
    make: *** [docker_mysqld_volume_create] Error 1

Mysqld failing to start

Our MYSQLD service relies on a persistent data volume in order to save the database even after containers are removed. It is possible that the volume is in an incorrect state during startup which can lead to erros like the following:

    mysqld-1  | 2024-06-14T13:50:33.169411Z 0 [ERROR] [MY-010457] [Server] --initialize specified but the data directory has files in it. Aborting.
    mysqld-1  | 2024-06-14T13:50:33.169416Z 0 [ERROR] [MY-013236] [Server] The designated data directory /var/lib/mysql/ is unusable. You can remove all files that the server added to it.

The best way around this is to make down && make up This will prune volumes and restart addons-server.

stat /Users/kmeinhardt/src/mozilla/addons-server/env: no such file or directory

If you ran into this issue, it is likely due to an invalid .env likely created via running tests for our makefile and docker-comose.yml file locally.

    docker compose up  -d --wait --remove-orphans --force-recreate --quiet-pull
    stat /Users/kmeinhardt/src/mozilla/addons-server/env: no such file or directory
    make: *** [docker_compose_up] Error 14

To fix this error rm -f .env to remove your .env and make up to restart the containers.

401 during docker build step in CI

If the _build.yml workflow is run it requires repository secret and permissions to be set correctly. If you see the below error:

Error: buildx bake failed with: ERROR: failed to solve: failed to push mozilla/addons-server:pr-22446-ci: failed to authorize: failed to fetch oauth token: unexpected status from GET request to 401 Unauthorized

See the (workflow example)[./] for correct usage.

Invalid pull_policy

If you run docker compose commands directly in the terminal, it is critical that your .env file exists and is up to date. This is handled automatically using make commands but if you run docker compose pull without a .env file, you may encounter validation errors. That is because our docker-compose file itself uses variable substituation for certain properties. This allows us to modify the behaviour of docker at runtime.

validating /Users/user/mozilla/addons-server/docker-compose.yml: services.worker.pull_policy services.worker.pull_policy must be one of the following: "always", "never", "if_not_present", "build", "missing"

To fix this error, run make setup to ensure you have an up-to-date .env file locally.