Development on Windows 10 with WSL and Visual Studio Code

This document describes step-by-step how to set up 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 fully 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 the Remote WSL and Python extension

  • WSL with Ubuntu (18.04. LTS or higher)

  • Python environment on WSL (3.8 or higher)

  • MySQL server on WSL

  • Redis on WSL

  • Alliance Auth on WSL

  • Celery on WSL

We will use the build-in Django development web server, so we don’t need to set up 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 to download the additional software components.

Installing Windows apps

Windows Subsystem for Linux

  • Install from here: Microsoft docs

  • Choose Ubuntu 18.04. LTS or higher

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

Setting up WSL / Linux

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

Next, we need to install Python and related development tools.


Should your Ubuntu come with a newer version of Python we recommend to still set up your dev environment with the oldest Python 3 version currently supported by AA (e.g., Python 3.8 at this time of writing) to ensure your apps are compatible with all current AA installations You can check out this page <>_ on how to install additional Python versions on Ubuntu.

If you install a different python version from the default, you need to adjust some commands below to install appopriate versions of those packages, for example, using Python 3.8 you might need to run the following after using the setup steps for the repository mentioned in the AskUbuntu post above:

sudo apt-get install python3.8 python3.8-dev python3.8-venv python3-setuptools python3-pip python-pip

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

Install redis and other tools

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

Start redis

sudo redis-server --daemonize yes

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 a database and user for AA

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

Add timezone info to mysql:

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


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

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

Setup dev folder on WSL

Set up your folders on WSL bash for your dev project. Our approach will set up 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 set up additional AA projects, e.g. aa-dev-2, aa-dev-3 if needed.

Create the root folder aa-dev.


The folders venv and myauth will be created automatically in later steps. Please do not create them manually as this would lead to errors.

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 and update basic Python packages

pip install -U pip setuptools wheel

Installing Alliance Auth

Install and create AA instance

pip install allianceauth

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

allianceauth start myauth

Next, we will set up 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 the pattern: **/venv

Create EVE Online SSO App

For the Eve Online related setup you need to create an 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:

Update Django settings

Open your local Django settings with VSC. The file is under myauth/myauth/settings/


There are two Django settings files: and The base settings file is controlled by the AA project and may change at any time. It is therefore recommended to only change the local settings file.

DEBUG = True

Define URL and name of your site:


Update name, user and password of your DATABASE configuration.

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

Add the credentials for your Eve Online SSO app as defined above:


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 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 help 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. Start your server with the following option: python runserver --insecure


In addition, you can start a celery worker instance for myauth. For development purposes, 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 -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 a 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 deactivating this feature.

To deactivate, click on the debug icon to switch to the debug view. Then uncheck “Uncaught Exceptions” in the “Breakpoints” window.

AA debug config

In VSC, click on Debug / Add Configuration and choose “Django”. Should Django not appear as an 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": "${workspaceFolder}/myauth/",
    "cwd": "${workspaceFolder}/myauth",
    "args": [
    "django": true,
    "justMyCode": 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": "${workspaceFolder}/myauth/",
    "cwd": "${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. 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:

VS Code extensions

Django Template

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

Code Spell Checker

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

Git History

Very helpful to visualize the change history and compare different branches. Git History


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

Live Server

Live Server allows you to start a mini webserver for any file quickly. This can e.g. be useful for looking at changes to Sphinx docs.: Live Server

Django apps

Django Extensions

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

  • shell_plus - An enhanced version of the Django shell. It will autoload 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 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 debugger baked in. This is a must-have for any serious debugging.

Django Debug Toolbar

The Django Debug Toolbar is a configurable set of panels that display various debug information about the current request/response and when clicked, display more details about the panel’s content. This tool is invaluable to debug and fix performance issues with Django queries.

Windows applications


DBeaver is a free universal database tool and works with many different kinds of databases including 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

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 activated 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