Development on Windows 10 with WSL and Visual Studio Code

This document describes step-by-step how to setup a complete development environment for Alliance Auth apps on Windows 10 with Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and Visual Studio Code.

The main benefit of this setup is that it runs all services and code in the native Linux environment (WSL) and at the same time can be full controlled from within a comfortable Windows IDE (Visual Studio Code) including code debugging.

In addition all tools described in this guide are open source or free software.


This guide is meant for development purposes only and not for installing AA in a production environment. For production installation please see chapter Installation.


The development environment consists of the following components:

  • Visual Studio Code with Remote WSL and Python extension

  • WSL with Ubuntu 18.04. LTS

  • Python 3.7 environment on WSL

  • MySQL server on WSL

  • Redis on WSL

  • Alliance Auth on WSL

  • Celery on WSL

We will use the build-in Django development webserver, so we don’t need to setup a WSGI server or a web server.


This setup works with both WSL 1 and WSL 2. However, due to the significantly better performance we recommend WSL 2.


The only requirement is a PC with Windows 10 and Internet connection in order to download the additional software components.

Windows installation

Windows Subsystem for Linux

Visual Studio Code

  • Install from here: VSC Download

  • Open the app and install the following VSC extensions:

  • Remote WSL

  • Connect to WSL. This will automatically install the VSC server on the VSC server for WSL

  • Once connected to WSL install the Python extension on the WSL side

WSL Installation

Open a WSL bash and update all software packets:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

Install Tools

sudo apt-get install build-essential
sudo apt-get install gettext

Install Python

For AA we want to develop with Python 3.7, because that provides the maximum compatibility with today’s AA installations.


To check your system’s Python 3 version you can enter: python3 --version


Should your Ubuntu come with a newer version of Python we recommend to still setup your dev environment with the oldest Python 3 version supported by AA, e.g Python 3.7 You an check out this page on how to install additional Python versions on Ubuntu.

Use the following command to install Python 3 with all required libraries with the default version:

sudo apt-get install python3 python3-dev python3-venv python3-setuptools python3-pip python-pip

Installing the DBMS

Install MySQL and required libraries with the following command:

sudo apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client libmysqlclient-dev


We chose to use MySQL instead of MariaDB, because the standard version of MariaDB that comes with this Ubuntu distribution will not work with AA.

We need to apply a permission fix to mysql or you will get a warning with every startup:

sudo usermod -d /var/lib/mysql/ mysql

Start the mysql server

sudo service mysql start

Create database and user for AA

sudo mysql -u root
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON aa_dev . * TO 'aa_dev'@'localhost';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON test_aa_dev . * TO 'aa_dev'@'localhost';

Add timezone info to mysql

sudo mysql_tzinfo_to_sql /usr/share/zoneinfo | sudo mysql -u root mysql

Install redis and other tools

sudo apt-get install unzip git redis-server curl libssl-dev libbz2-dev libffi-dev

Start redis

sudo redis-server --daemonize yes


WSL does not have an init.d service, so it will not automatically start your services such as MySQL and Redis when you boot your Windows machine. For convenience we recommend putting the commands for starting these services in a bash script. Here is an example:

# start services for AA dev
sudo service mysql start
sudo redis-server --daemonize yes

In addition it is possible to configure Windows to automatically start WSL services, but that procedure goes beyond the scopes of this guide.

Setup dev folder on WSL

Setup your folders on WSL bash for your dev project. Our approach will setup one AA project with one venv and multiple apps running under the same AA project, but each in their own folder and git.

A good location for setting up this folder structure is your home folder or a subfolder of your home:

|- venv
|- myauth
|- my_app_1
|- my_app_2
|- ...

Following this approach you can also setup additional AA projects, e.g. aa-dev-2, aa-dev-3 if needed.

Create the root folder aa-dev.

setup virtual Python environment for aa-dev

Create the virtual environment. Run this in your aa-dev folder:

python3 -m venv venv

And activate your venv:

source venv/bin/activate

install Python packages

pip install --upgrade pip
pip install wheel

Alliance Auth installation

Install and create AA instance

pip install allianceauth

Now we are ready to setup our AA instance. Make sure to run this command in your aa-dev folder:

allianceauth start myauth

Next we will setup our VSC project for aa-dev by starting it directly from the WSL bash:

code .

First you want to make sure exclude the venv folder from VSC as follows: Open settings and go to Files:Exclude Add pattern: **/venv

Update settings

Open the settings file with VSC. Its under myauth/myauth/settings/

Make sure to have the settings of your Eve Online app ready.

Turn on DEBUG mode to ensure your static files get served by Django:

DEBUG = True

Update name, user and password of your DATABASE configuration.

DATABASES['default'] = {
    'ENGINE': 'django.db.backends.mysql',
    'NAME': 'aa_dev',
    'USER': 'aa_dev',
    'HOST': '',
    'PORT': '3306',
    'OPTIONS': {'charset': 'utf8mb4'},

For the Eve Online related setup you need to create a SSO app on the developer site:

  • Create your Eve Online SSO App on the Eve Online developer site

  • Add all ESI scopes

  • Set callback URL to: http://localhost:8000/sso/callback

Then update with your settings:

ESI_SSO_CALLBACK_URL = 'http://localhost:8000/sso/callback'

Disable email registration:


Migrations and superuser

Before we can start AA we need to run migrations:

cd myauth
python migrate

We also need to create a superuser for our AA installation:

python /home/allianceserver/myauth/ createsuperuser

Running Alliance Auth

AA instance

We are now ready to run out AA instance with the following command:

python runserver

Once running you can access your auth site on the browser under http://localhost:8000. Or the admin site under http://localhost:8000/admin


You can start your AA server directly from a terminal window in VSC or with a VSC debug config (see chapter about debugging for details).


Debug vs. Non-Debug mode Usually it is best to run your dev AA instance in debug mode, so you get all the detailed error messages that helps a lot for finding errors. But there might be cases where you want to test features that do not exist in debug mode (e.g. error pages) or just want to see how your app behaves in non-debug / production mode.

When you turn off debug mode you will see a problem though: Your pages will not render correctly. The reason is that Django will stop serving your static files in production mode and expect you to serve them from a real web server. Luckily, there is an option that forces Django to continue serving your static files directly even when not in debug mode. Just start your server with the following option: python runserver --insecure


In addition you can start a celery worker instance for myauth. For development purposed it makes sense to only start one instance and add some additional logging.

This can be done from the command line with the following command in the myauth folder (where is located):

celery -E -A myauth worker -l info -P solo

Same as AA itself you can start Celery from any terminal session, from a terminal window within VSC or as a debug config in VSC (see chapter about debugging for details). For convenience we recommend starting Celery as debug config.

Debugging setup

To be able to debug your code you need to add debugging configuration to VSC. At least one for AA and one for celery.


By default VSC will break on any uncaught exception. Since every error raised by your tests will cause an uncaught exception we recommend to deactivate this feature.

To deactivate open click on the debug icon to switch to the debug view. Then un-check “Uncaught Exceptions” on the breakpoints window.

AA debug config

In VSC click on Debug / Add Configuration and choose “Django”. Should Django not appear as option make sure to first open a Django file (e.g. the settings) to help VSC detect that you are using Django.

The result should look something like this:

    "name": "Python: Django",
    "type": "python",
    "request": "launch",
    "program": "${workspaceFolder}/myauth/",
    "args": [
    "django": true

Debug celery

For celery we need another debug config, so that we can run it in parallel to our AA instance.

Here is an example debug config for Celery:

    "name": "Python: Celery",
    "type": "python",
    "request": "launch",
    "module": "celery",
    "cwd": "${workspaceFolder}/myauth",
    "console": "integratedTerminal",
    "args": [
    "django": true,
    "justMyCode": true,

Debug config for unit tests

Finally it makes sense to have a dedicated debug config for running unit tests. Here is an example config for running all tests of the app example.

    "name": "Python: myauth unit tests",
    "type": "python",
    "request": "launch",
    "program": "${workspaceFolder}/myauth/",
    "args": [
    "django": true,
    "justMyCode": true

You can also specify to run just a part of your test suite down to a test method. Just give the full path to the test you want to run, e.g. example.test.test_models.TestDemoModel.test_this_method

Debugging normal python scripts

Finally you may also want to have a debug config to debug a non-Django Python script:

    "name": "Python: Current File",
    "type": "python",
    "request": "launch",
    "program": "${file}",
    "console": "integratedTerminal"

Additional tools

The following additional tools are very helpful when developing for AA with VS Code:


Pylance is an extension that works alongside Python in Visual Studio Code to provide performant language support: Pylance

Code Spell Checker

Typos in your user facing comments can be quite embarrassing. This spell checker helps you avoid them: Code Spell Checker


Extension for Visual Studio Code - Markdown linting and style checking for Visual Studio Code: markdownlint


Extension for Visual Studio Code - Supercharge the Git capabilities built into Visual Studio Code: GitLens

RST preview

A VS Code extension to preview restructured text and provide syntax highlighting: RST Preview

Django Template

This extension adds language colorization support and user snippets for the Django template language to VS Code: Django Template


DBeaver is a free universal database tool and works with many different kinds of databases include MySQL. It can be installed on Windows 10 and will be able to help manage your MySQL databases running on WSL.

Install from here. DBeaver


django-extensions is a swiss army knife for django developers with adds a lot of very useful features to your Django site. Here are a few highlights:

  • shell_plus - An enhanced version of the Django shell. It will auto-load all your models at startup so you don’t have to import anything and can use them right away.

  • graph_models - Creates a dependency graph of Django models. Visualizing a model dependency structure can be very useful for trying to understand how an existing Django app works, or e.g. how all the AA models work together.

  • runserver_plus - The standard runserver stuff but with the Werkzeug debugger baked in. This is a must have for any serious debugging.

Adding apps for development

The idea behind the particular folder structure of aa-dev is to have each and every app in its own folder and git repo. To integrate them with the AA instance they need to be installed once using the -e option that enabled editing of the package. And then added to the INSTALLED_APPS settings.

To demonstrate let’s add the example plugin to our environment.

Open a WSL bash and navigate to the aa-dev folder. Make sure you have activate your virtual environment. (source venv/bin/activate)

Run these commands:

git clone
pip install -e allianceauth-example-plugin

Add 'example' to INSTALLED_APPS in your settings.

Run migrations and restart your AA server, e.g.:

cd myauth
python migrate