This is a full walkthrough of how to get MediaDrop running.

Experienced Pylons users can check out the Quick Installation Overview page for a (very) condensed version of the instructions.

This installation guide assumes a basic familiarity with a *nix shell. Experience with a Windows or DOS shell will translate pretty easily. You should be familiar with the concepts important to web development such as databases, web servers, and file permissions. You should be comfortable with running commands in a terminal, and the basics like cd, ls, mkdir, tar, sudo, etc. For a quick refresher check out this introduction to *nix command shells.

Step 0: Requirements

MediaDrop runs on *nix operating systems. We’ve tested CentOS and Mac OS X, but any Linux or BSD-based OS should work just fine.

If you run Windows and want to try MediaDrop, you have two options:

  • If you’re an experienced developer, try your hand at translating MediaDrop and its installation process to a Windows environment. It’s probably not that different. We’d love to hear how you did it.
  • Find a cheap web host that offers Apache, FastCGI, and SSH support, and install it on there.

You will need:

  • Python 2.x (2.4.x or newer)
  • a MySQL (5.0.x or newer) or PostgreSQL database
  • GCC must be installed and available on your $PATH for certain required Python packages (mysql-python, Pillow) to install properly.
  • development headers for Python, libjpeg, zlib, and freetype are also required for certain required Python packages (Pillow) to install properly.
  • setuptools
  • virtualenv

MediaDrop works with MySQL and PostgreSQL but so far MySQL-based setups have way more popularity (and some features like the DB-based full-text search are not yet available for PostgreSQL). Therefore the following install docs assume you want to work with a MySQL database. If you’re going with PostgreSQL you should also install the necessary Python PostgreSQL bindings (e.g. psycopg2) and development headers.

Installing the required dependencies on Linux requires root access (use sudo or su). In a shared hosting environment usually you can only hope that all required packages are present.

On Linux you should use the packages of your distribution: Do not try to compile Python, MySQL or Apache yourself! Doing so (and maintaining a secure system over years) is a highly challenging task. If you experience problems during the install on a well-known Linux distribution the problem is likely not due to package versions so self-compiling will not solve the problem!

Below you can find detailed install instructions for some of the most popular operating systems. However MediaDrop will run on other platforms as well as long as you have a working compiler and the necessary development headers.


Later on your MediaDrop install needs a database so it can store data. As mentioned before this documentation uses a MySQL database though PostgreSQL should work as well.

Please make sure you have credentials to access the MySQL server and an empty database. In a shared hosting environment there is usually a web panel to manage these. If you installed the MySQL server yourself, please create a MySQL user and a new database.

Install Location

If you are only interested in a development setup (without a permanent deployment using a web server, using “paster”) this does not have to concern you. Just find a folder which will contain the source code and the data files.

For a permanent deployment however you need a folder which is accessible by your web server. Usually a place below /var/www is a good choice.

Ideally the folder is not below the default docroot (often called html or httpdocs) but right next to it (sometimes called shareddata). This ensures that the web server will never reveal your actual MediaDrop source code or the configuration files to web users in case of a configuration error.

After step 3 you should have a directory which contains the folders data, MediaDrop-0.11.0 (or whatever you named the directory with the MediaDrop source code), and venv as well as the deployment.ini file.

Step 1: Setup a Python Virtual Environment

NOTE: Past this point, it will be assumed that all packages required in Step 0: Requirements are installed.

If you haven’t heard of them, Virtual Environments are a way to keep installations of multiple Python applications from interfering with each other. This means you can install MediaDrop and all of its dependencies without worrying about overwriting any existing versions of Python libraries.

The following command will create a folder named venv in the current directory. You can put this folder anywhere, but remember where it is – we’ll need to point to it later.

# Create a new virtual environment:
virtualenv --distribute --no-site-packages venv

# Now, activate that virtual environment:
source venv/bin/activate

Now that you’ve activated the newly created virtual environment, any packages you install will only be accessible when you’ve activated the environment.

NOTE: Any time you want to work with MediaDrop, you should thus activate the virtual environment as we just did in the line above.

Step 2: Install MediaDrop

There are two main ways to get MediaDrop:

  1. You can download the latest official release of MediaDrop from our site.

    Once you’ve downloaded MediaDrop, it’s time to unpack it and install. will download and install all the necessary dependencies for MediaDrop into your virtual environment:

    # Unpack the downloaded distribution
    tar xzvf MediaDrop-0.11.0.tar.gz
    cd MediaDrop-0.11.0
    # Install!
    python develop
    cd ..
  2. For developers and power users we recommend using the source code directly from our public git repository. A git deployment makes it easy to track local changes and experienced developers can also stay right up-to-date with bugfixes as they’re made.

    # Download and install via Git
    git clone git:// mediadrop-git
    cd mediadrop-git
    # now you have the latest development version. If you like to access the
    # code for a specific release, please checkout the matching git tag, e.g.:
    # git checkout v0.10.2
    # Install!
    python develop
    cd ..

Step 3: Basic Configuration File

Next we generate a configuration file named deployment.ini which contains basic MediaDrop settings.

# To create deployment.ini in your current dir:
paster make-config MediaDrop deployment.ini

Open up deployment.ini and have a look through. The default settings should get you started. The only line that needs to be edited right away is the database configuration.

Under the [app:main] heading, look for the sqlalchemy.url setting. It looks like this:

sqlalchemy.url = mysql://username:pass@localhost/dbname?charset=utf8&use_unicode=0

Change the “username”, “pass”, and “dbname” fields to your username, password, and database name. For example:

sqlalchemy.url = mysql://mediadrop_user:mysecretpassword@localhost/mediadrop?charset=utf8&use_unicode=0

Developers should also set debug = true in the config file but be aware that this is a security risk in a publicly accessible deployment. Also db.check_for_leaked_connections = True (in [app:main]) might give you important warnings on the console.

Step 4: Load Initial Data

First we need to set up the directory which contains all the file content. Copy the data folder from your MediaDrop source code next to the deployment.ini file.

cp -a MediaDrop-0.11.0/data .

NOTE: For uploads to work, the data directory must be writable by the user running MediaDrop.

The creation of all database tables and addition of initial data is taken care of via this Pylons command:

paster setup-app deployment.ini

If you want to enable simple fulltext searching, you will need to have access to the root account for your MySQL database. Some shared hosts don’t allow this, so we have made this feature optional. To set up the triggers that enable fulltext searching, import setup_triggers.sql like so:

# Import fulltext search database triggers
mysql -u root mediadrop < MediaDrop-0.11.0/setup_triggers.sql

NOTE: If you do not import setup_triggers.sql, MediaDrop’s search will only search for exact matches in the media title (e.g. searching for “smith live” will find not find a media named “Joe Smith: live performance”). In a future release, we plan to release optional plugins to use a database-independent search engine.

Step 5: Launch the Built-in Server

Now that MediaDrop itself is installed and the basics are configured, we can test it out using the Paste server. It’s bundled with Pylons so you have it already, simply run:

paster serve --reload deployment.ini

Now open http://localhost:8080/ to see how it works! You can try access the admin at http://localhost:8080/admin/ with username: admin, password: admin. (Remember to change your password!)

If this produces errors then MediaDrop or one of its dependencies is not setup correctly. Please feel free to ask questions and submit solutions via our community forums.

If this is your development machine, you’re good to go.

Step 6: Production Deployments

MediaDrop is WSGI-based so there are many possible ways to deploy it. The built in Paste server does a great job for development, but you may want to run MediaDrop from a more performant webserver. Below are three methods you can use to deploy MediaDrop:

  • Apache/mod_fcgid (FastCGI) is simplest and will work with most shared hosting environments, so long as the server has mod_fcgid installed.
  • Apache/mod_wsgi is preferred way of deploying Python applications like MediaDrop and can be tuned for better performance than mod_fastcgi.
  • nginx / uwsgi is an expert option which can provide significant performance benefits when serving static files.

If possible please use mod_wsgi as this mode is tested best and is likely the easiest to configure for new users.

You're reading the documentation for MediaDrop 0.11dev (current git master). For the latest stable release please consult the documentation for MediaCore CE 0.10.