Our Django application is now using Python 3 and a modern Django

February 1, 2024

We have a long standing Django web application to handle the process of people requesting Unix accounts here and having the official sponsor of their account approve it. For a long time, this web app was stuck on Python 2 and Django 1.10 after a failed attempt to upgrade to Django 1.11 in 2019. Our reliance on Python 2 was obviously a problem, and with the not so far off end of life of Ubuntu 20.04 it was getting more acute (we use Apache's mod_wsgi, and Ubuntu 22.04 and later don't have a Python 2 version of that for obvious reasons). Recently I decided I had to slog through the process of moving to Python 3 and a modern Django (one that is actually supported) and it was better to start early. To my pleasant surprise the process of bringing it up under Python 3 and Django 4.2 was much less work than I expected, and recently we migrated the production version. At this point it's been running long enough (and has done enough) that I'm calling this upgrade a success.

There are a number of reasons for this smooth and rapid sailing. For a start, it turns out that my 2019 work to bring the app up under Python 3 covered most of the work necessary, although not all of it. Our previous problems with CSRF and Apache HTTP Basic Authentication have either been sidestepped by Django changes since 1.11 or perhaps mitigated by Django configuration changes based on a greater understanding of this area that I worked out two years ago. And despite some grumpy things I've said about Django in the past, our application needed very few changes to go from Django 1.10 to Django 4.2.

(Most of the Django changes seem to have been moving from 'load staticfiles' to 'load static' in templates, and replacing use of django.conf.urls.url() with django.urls.re_path(), although we could probably do our URL mapping better if we wanted to. There are other minor changes, like importing functions from different places, changing request.POST.has_key(X) to X in request.POST, and defining DEFAULT_AUTO_FIELD in our settings.)

Having this migration done and working takes a real load off of my mind for the obvious reasons; neither Python 2 nor Django 1.10 are what we should really be using today, even if they work, and now we're free to upgrade the server hosting this web application beyond Ubuntu 20.04. I'm also glad that it took relatively little work now.

(Probably this will make me more willing to keep up to date with Django versions in the future. We're not on Django 5.0 because it requires a more recent version of Python 3 than Ubuntu 20.04 has, but that will probably change this summer or fall as we start upgrades to Ubuntu 24.04.)

Written on 01 February 2024.
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Last modified: Thu Feb 1 23:06:25 2024
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