How To Use MariaDB with your Django Application on CentOS 7

How To Use MariaDB with your Django Application on CentOS 7


Django is a flexible framework for quickly creating Python applications. By default, Django applications are configured to store data into a lightweight SQLite database file. While this works well under some loads, a more traditional DBMS can improve performance in production.

In this guide, we’ll demonstrate how to install and configure MariaDB to use with your Django applications. We will install the necessary software, create database credentials for our application, and then start and configure a new Django project to use this backend.


To get started, you will need a clean CentOS 7 server instance with a non-root user set up. The non-root user must be configured with sudo privileges. Learn how to set this up by following our initial server setup guide.

When you are ready to continue, read on.

Install the Components from the CentOS and EPEL Repositories

Our first step will be install all of the pieces that we need from the repositories. We will install pip, the Python package manager, in order to install and manage our Python components. We will also install the database software and the associated libraries required to interact with them.

Some of the software we need is in the EPEL repository, which contains extra packages. We can enable this repository easily by tying:

sudo yum install epel-release

With EPEL enabled, we can install the necessary components by typing:

sudo yum install python-pip python-devel gcc mariadb-server mariadb-devel

After the installation, you can start and enable the MariaDB service by typing:

sudo systemctl start mariadb
sudo systemctl enable mariadb

You can then run through a simple security script by running:

sudo mysql_secure_installation

You’ll be asked for an administrative password, which will be blank by default. Just hit ENTER to continue. Afterwards, you will be asked to change the root password, which you should do. You’ll then be asked a series of questions which you should hit ENTER through to accept the default options.

With the installation and initial database configuration out of the way, we can move on to create our database and database user.

Create a Database and Database User

We can start by logging into an interactive session with our database software by typing the following:

mysql -u root -p

You will be prompted for the administrative password you selected during the last step. Afterwards, you will be given a prompt.

First, we will create a database for our Django project. Each project should have its own isolated database for security reasons. We will call our database myproject in this guide, but it’s always better to select something more descriptive. We’ll set the default type for the database to UTF-8, which is what Django expects:


Remember to end all commands at an SQL prompt with a semicolon.

Next, we will create a database user which we will use to connect to and interact with the database. Set the password to something strong and secure:

CREATE USER myprojectuser@localhost IDENTIFIED BY 'password';

Now, all we need to do is give our database user access rights to the database we created:

GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON myproject.* TO myprojectuser@localhost;

Flush the changes so that they will be available during the current session:


Exit the SQL prompt to get back to your regular shell session:


Install Django within a Virtual Environment

Now that our database is set up, we can install Django. For better flexibility, we will install Django and all of its dependencies within a Python virtual environment.

You can get the virtualenv package that allows you to create these environments by typing:

sudo pip install virtualenv

Make a directory to hold your Django project. Move into the directory afterwards:

mkdir ~/myproject
cd ~/myproject

We can create a virtual environment to store our Django project’s Python requirements by typing:

virtualenv myprojectenv

This will install a local copy of Python and pip into a directory called myprojectenv within your project directory.

Before we install applications within the virtual environment, we need to activate it. You can do so by typing:

source myprojectenv/bin/activate

Your prompt will change to indicate that you are now operating within the virtual environment. It will look something like this (myprojectenv)user@host:~/myproject$.

Once your virtual environment is active, you can install Django with pip. We will also install the mysqlclient package that will allow us to use the database we configured:

pip install django mysqlclient

We can now start a Django project within our myproject directory. This will create a child directory of the same name to hold the code itself, and will create a management script within the current directory. Make sure to add the dot at the end of the command so that this is set up correctly:

django-admin.py startproject myproject .

Configure the Django Database Settings

Now that we have a project, we need to configure it to use the database we created.

Open the main Django project settings file located within the child project directory:

nano ~/myproject/myproject/settings.py

Towards the bottom of the file, you will see a DATABASES section that looks like this:

. . .

    'default': {
        'ENGINE': 'django.db.backends.sqlite3',
        'NAME': os.path.join(BASE_DIR, 'db.sqlite3'),

. . .

This is currently configured to use SQLite as a database. We need to change this so that our MariaDB database is used instead.

First, change the engine so that it points to the mysql backend instead of the sqlite3 backend. For the NAME, use the name of your database (myproject in our example). We also need to add login credentials. We need the username, password, and host to connect to. We’ll add and leave blank the port option so that the default is selected:

. . .

    'default': {
        'ENGINE': 'django.db.backends.mysql',
        'NAME': 'myproject',
        'USER': 'myprojectuser',
        'PASSWORD': 'password',
        'HOST': 'localhost',
        'PORT': '',

. . .

When you are finished, save and close the file.

Migrate the Database and Test your Project

Now that the Django settings are configured, we can migrate our data structures to our database and test out the server.

We can begin by creating and applying migrations to our database. Since we don’t have any actual data yet, this will simply set up the initial database structure:

cd ~/myproject
python manage.py makemigrations
python manage.py migrate

After creating the database structure, we can create an administrative account by typing:

python manage.py createsuperuser

You will be asked to select a username, provide an email address, and choose and confirm a password for the account.

Once you have an admin account set up, you can test that your database is performing correctly by starting up the Django development server:

python manage.py runserver

In your web browser, visit your server’s domain name or IP address followed by :8000 to reach default Django root page:


You should see the default index page:

Django index

Append /admin to the end of the URL and you should be able to access the login screen to the admin interface:

Django admin login

Enter the username and password you just created using the createsuperuser command. You will then be taken to the admin interface:

Django admin interface

When you’re done investigating, you can stop the development server by hitting CTRL-C in your terminal window.

By accessing the admin interface, we have confirmed that our database has stored our user account information and that it can be appropriately accessed.


In this guide, we’ve demonstrated how to install and configure MariaDB as the backend database for a Django project. While SQLite can easily handle the load during development and light production use, most projects benefit from implementing a more full-featured DBMS.

Thanks for learning with the DigitalOcean Community. Check out our offerings for compute, storage, networking, and managed databases.

Learn more about our products

About the authors

Still looking for an answer?

Ask a questionSearch for more help

Was this helpful?

This textbox defaults to using Markdown to format your answer.

You can type !ref in this text area to quickly search our full set of tutorials, documentation & marketplace offerings and insert the link!

Thanks for this it really helped me getting started with Django!

Try DigitalOcean for free

Click below to sign up and get $200 of credit to try our products over 60 days!

Sign up

Join the Tech Talk
Success! Thank you! Please check your email for further details.

Please complete your information!

Featured on Community

Get our biweekly newsletter

Sign up for Infrastructure as a Newsletter.

Hollie's Hub for Good

Working on improving health and education, reducing inequality, and spurring economic growth? We'd like to help.

Become a contributor

Get paid to write technical tutorials and select a tech-focused charity to receive a matching donation.

Welcome to the developer cloud

DigitalOcean makes it simple to launch in the cloud and scale up as you grow — whether you're running one virtual machine or ten thousand.

Learn more
DigitalOcean Cloud Control Panel