Installing Bedrock

Installation Methods

There are two primary methods of installing bedrock: Docker and Local. Whichever you choose you’ll start by getting the source

$ git clone
$ cd bedrock

After these basic steps you can choose your install method below. Docker is the easiest and recommended way, but local is also possible and may be preferred by people for various reasons.

You should also install our git pre-commit hooks. Our setup uses the pre-commit framework. Install the framework using the instructions on their site depending on your platform, then run pre-commit install. After that it will check your Python, JS, and CSS files before you commit to save you time waiting for the tests to run in our CI before noticing a linting error.

Docker Installation


This method assumes you have Docker installed for your platform. If not please do that now or skip to the Local Installation section.

This is the simplest way to get started developing for bedrock. If you’re on Linux or Mac (and possibly Windows 10 with the Linux subsystem) you can run a script that will pull our production and development docker images and start them:

$ make clean run


You can start the server any other time with:

$ make run

You should see a number of things happening, but when it’s done it will output something saying that the server is running at localhost:8000. Go to that URL in a browser and you should see the home page. In this mode the site will refresh itself when you make changes to any template or media file. Simply open your editor of choice and modify things and you should see those changes reflected in your browser.


It’s a good idea to run make pull from time to time. This will pull down the latest Docker images from our repository ensuring that you have the latest dependencies installed among other things. If you see any strange errors after a git pull then make pull is a good thing to try for a quick fix.

If you don’t have or want to use Make you can call the docker and compose commands directly

$ docker-compose pull
$ [[ ! -f .env ]] && cp .env-dist .env

Then starting it all is simply

$ docker-compose up app assets

All of this is handled by the Makefile script and called by Make if you follow the above directions. You DO NOT need to do both.

These directions pull and use the pre-built images that our deployment process has pushed to the Docker Hub. If you need to add or change any dependencies for Python or Node then you’ll need to build new images for local testing. You can do this by updating the requirements files and/or package.json file then simply running:

$ make build


For Apple Silicon / M1 users

If you find that when you’re building you hit issues with Puppeteer not installing, these will help:

Asset bundles

If you make a change to media/static-bundles.json, you’ll need to restart Docker.


Sometimes stopping Docker doesn’t actually kill the images. To be safe, after stopping docker, run docker ps to ensure the containers were actually stopped. If they have not been stopped, you can force them by running docker-compose kill to stop all containers, or docker kill <container_name> to stop a single container, e.g. docker kill bedrock_app_1.

Local Installation

These instructions assume you have Python, pip, and NodeJS installed. If you don’t have pip installed (you probably do) you can install it with the instructions in the pip docs.

Bedrock currently uses Python 3.9.10. The recommended way to install and use that version is with pyenv and to create a virtualenv using pyenv-virtualenv that will isolate Bedrock’s dependencies from other things installed on the system.

The following assumes you are on MacOS, using zsh as your shell and Homebrew as your package manager. If you are not, there are installation instructions for a variety of platforms and shells in the READMEs for the two pyenv projects.

Install Python 3.9.10 with pyenv

  1. Install pyenv itself

    $ brew install pyenv

2. Configure your shell to init pyenv on start - this is noted in the project’s own docs, in more detail, but omits that setting PYENV_ROOT and adding it to the path is needed:

$ echo 'export PYENV_ROOT="$HOME/.pyenv"' >> ~/.zshrc
$ echo 'export PATH="$PYENV_ROOT/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.zshrc
$ echo 'eval "$(pyenv init -)"' >> ~/.zshrc

3. Restart your login session for the changes to profile files to take effect - if you’re not using zsh, the pyenv docs have other routes

$ zsh -l
  1. Install the latest Python 3.9.x (eg 3.9.10), then test it’s there:

    $ pyenv install 3.9.10

    If you’d like to make Python 3.9.10 your default globally, you can do so with:

    $ pyenv global 3.9.10

    If you only want to make Python 3.9.10 available in the current shell, while you set up the Python virtualenv (below), you can do so with:

    $ pyenv shell 3.9.10
  2. Verify that you have the correct version of Python installed:

    $ python --version
    Python 3.9.10


At the time of writing, Python 3.9.10 was the 3.9 release that worked with least complication across the core team’s local-development platforms, incl both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs. It’s also the version of 3.9 in the slim-bullseye image used for the Dockerized version.

Install a plugin to manage virtualenvs via pyenv and create a virtualenv for Bedrock’s dependencies

  1. Install pyenv-virtualenv

    $ brew install pyenv-virtualenv

2. Configure your shell to init pyenv-virtualenv on start - again, this is noted in the pyenv-virtualenv project’s own documentation, in more detail. The following will slot in a command that will work as long as you have pyenv-virtualenv installed:

$ echo 'eval "$(pyenv virtualenv-init -)"' >> ~/.zshrc
  1. Restart your login session for the changes to profile files to take effect

    $ zsh -l
  2. Make a virtualenv we can use - in this example we’ll call it bedrock but use whatever you want

    $ pyenv virtualenv 3.9.10 bedrock

Use the virtualenv

  1. Switch to the virtualenv - this is the command you will use any time you need this virtualenv

    $ pyenv activate bedrock

2. If you’d like to auto activate the virtualenv when you cd into the bedrock directory, and deactivate it when you exit the directory, you can do so with:

$ echo 'bedrock' > .python-version
  1. Securely upgrade pip

    $ pip install --upgrade pip
  2. Install / update dependencies

    $ make install-local-python-deps


If you are on OSX and some of the compiled dependencies fails to compile, try explicitly setting the arch flags and try again. The following are relevant to Intel Macs only. If you’re on Apple Silicon, 3.9.10 should ‘just work’:

$ export ARCHFLAGS="-arch i386 -arch x86_64"
$ make install-local-python-deps

If you are on Linux, you may need at least the following packages or their equivalent for your distro:

python3-dev libxslt-dev

Sync the database and all of the external data locally. This gets product-details, security-advisories, credits, release notes, localizations, legal-docs etc:

$ bin/

Install the node dependencies to run the site. This will only work if you already have Node.js and npm installed:

$ npm install


Bedrock uses npm to ensure that Node.js packages that get installed are the exact ones we meant (similar to pip hash checking mode for python). Refer to the npm documentation for adding or upgrading Node.js dependencies.


As a convenience, there is a make preflight command which automatically brings your installed Python and NPM dependencies up to date and also fetches the latest DB containing the latest site content. This is a good thing to run after pulling latest changes from the main branch.

Run the tests

Now that we have everything installed, let’s make sure all of our tests pass. This will be important during development so that you can easily know when you’ve broken something with a change.


We manage our local docker environment with docker-compose and Make. All you need to do here is run:

$ make test

If you don’t have Make you can simply run docker-compose run test.

If you’d like to run only a subset of the tests or only one of the test commands you can accomplish that with a command like the following:

$ docker-compose run test py.test bedrock/firefox

This example will run only the unit tests for the firefox app in bedrock. You can substitute py.test bedrock/firefox with most any shell command you’d like and it will run in the Docker container and show you the output. You can also just run bash to get an interactive shell in the container which you can then use to run any commands you’d like and inspect the file system:

$ docker-compose run test bash


From the local install instructions above you should still have your virtualenv activated, so running the tests is as simple as:

$ py.test lib bedrock

To test a single app, specify the app by name in the command above. e.g.:

$ py.test bedrock/firefox

Make it run


Regardless of whether you run Bedrock via Docker or directly on your machine, the URL of the site is http://localhost:8000 - not 8080


You can simply run the make run script mentioned above, or use docker-compose directly:

$ docker-compose up app assets


To make the server run, make sure your virtualenv is activated, and then run the server:

$ npm start

If you are not inside a virtualenv, you can activate it by doing:

$ pyenv activate bedrock

Prod Mode

There are certain things about the site that behave differently when running locally in dev mode using Django’s development server than they do when running in the way it runs in production. Static assets that work fine locally can be a problem in production if referenced improperly, and the normal error pages won’t work unless DEBUG=False and doing that will make the site throw errors since the Django server doesn’t have access to all of the built static assets. So we have a couple of extra Docker commands (via make) that you can use to run the site locally in a more prod-like way.

First you should ensure that your .env file is setup the way you need. This usually means adding DEBUG=False and DEV=False, though you may want DEV=True if you want the site to act more like in that all feature switches are On and all locales are active for every page. After that you can run the following:

$ make run-prod

This will run the latest bedrock image using your local bedrock files and templates, but not your local static assets. If you need an updated image just run make pull.

If you need to include the changes you’ve made to your local static files (images, css, js, etc.) then you have to build the image first:

$ make build-prod run-prod

Pocket Mode

By default, Bedrock will serve the content of However, it is also possible to make Bedrock serve the content pages for Pocket ( This is done, ultimately, by setting a SITE_MODE env var to the value of Pocket.

For local development, setting this env var is already supported in the standard ways to run the site:

  • Docker: make run-pocket and make run-pocket prod

  • Local run/Node/webpack and Django runserver: npm run in-pocket-mode

  • SITE_MODE=Pocket ./ runserver for plain ol’ Django runserver, in Pocket mode

For demos on servers, remember to set the SITE_MODE env var to be the value you need (Pocket or Mozorg – or nothing, which is the same as setting Mozorg)


This is a great place for coders and non-coders alike to contribute! Please note most of the documentation is currently in reStructuredText but we also support Markdown files.

If you see a typo or similarly small change, you can use the “Edit in GitHub” link to propose a fix through GitHub. Note: you will not see your change directly committed to the main branch. You will commit the change to a separate branch so it can be reviewed by a staff member before merging to main.

If you want to make a bigger change or find a Documentation issue on the repo, it is best to edit and preview locally before submitting a pull request. You can do this with Docker or Local installations. Run the commands from your root folder. They will build documentation and start a live server to auto-update any changes you make to a documentation file.


$ make docs


$ pip install -r requirements/docs.txt
$ make livedocs


Localization (or L10n) files were fetched by the command your ran earlier and are included in the docker images. If you need to update them or switch to a different repo or branch after changing settings you can run the following command:

$ ./ l10n_update

You can read more details about how to localize content here.

Feature Flipping (aka Switches)

Environment variables are used to configure behavior and/or features of select pages on bedrock via a template helper function called switch(). It will take whatever name you pass to it (must be only numbers, letters, and dashes), convert it to uppercase, convert dashes to underscores, and lookup that name in the environment. For example: switch('the-dude') would look for the environment variable SWITCH_THE_DUDE. If the value of that variable is any of “on”, “true”, “1”, or “yes”, then it will be considered “on”, otherwise it will be “off”.

You can also supply a list of locale codes that will be the only ones for which the switch is active. If the page is viewed in any other locale the switch will always return False, even in DEV mode. This list can also include a “Locale Group”, which is all locales with a common prefix (e.g. “en-US, en-GB” or “zh-CN, zh-TW”). You specify these with just the prefix. So if you used switch('the-dude', ['en', 'de']) in a template, the switch would be active for German and any English locale the site supports.

You may also use these switches in Python in files (though not with locale support). For example:

from bedrock.base.waffle import switch

def home_view(request):
    title = 'Staging Home' if switch('staging-site') else 'Prod Home'


If the environment variable DEV is set to a “true” value, then all switches will be considered “on” unless they are explicitly “off” in the environment. DEV defaults to “true” in local development and demo servers.

To test switches locally:

  1. Set DEV=False in your .env file.

  2. Enable the switch in your .env file.

  3. Restart your web server.

To configure switches/env vars for a demo branch. Follow the demo-site instructions here.

Traffic Cop

Currently, these switches are used to enable/disable Traffic Cop experiments on many pages of the site. We only add the Traffic Cop JavaScript snippet to a page when there is an active test. You can see the current state of these switches and other configuration values in our configuration repo.

To work with/test these experiment switches locally, you must add the switches to your local environment. For example:

# to switch on firstrun-copy-experiment you'd add the following to your ``.env`` file

To do the equivalent in one of the bedrock apps see the www-config documentation.


A shortcut for activating virtual envs in zsh or bash is . venv/bin/activate. The dot is the same as source.

There’s a project called pew that provides a better interface for managing/activating virtual envs, so you can use that if you want. Also if you need help managing various versions of Python on your system, the pyenv project can help.