This guide will help you to install pretalx on Linux, as long as the prerequisites are present.

We also provide an Ansible role that follows this guide. If you prefer a docker setup, please use our docker-compose setup. (Please note that the pretalx community provides the docker setup. It is not supported by the pretalx team.)

Step 0: Prerequisites

Please set up the following systems beforehand. We will not explain their use and configuration here (but have a look at the linked pages).

  • Python 3.6 or newer and a pip to match. You can use python -V and pip3 -V to check.

  • An SMTP server to send out mails

  • An HTTP reverse proxy, e.g. nginx or Apache to allow HTTPS connections

  • A MySQL (5.6 or higher) or PostgreSQL (9.6 or higher) database server. You can use SQLite, but we strongly recommend not to run SQLite in production.

  • A redis server, if you want to use pretalx with an asynchronous task runner or improved caching.

We assume that you also have the usual security measures in place, such as a firewall. If you’re new to Linux and firewalls, we recommend that you start with ufw.

Please ensure that the environment used to run pretalx is configured to work with non-ASCII file names. You can check this by running:

python -c "import sys; print(sys.getfilesystemencoding())"

This should output "utf-8".


Please do not run pretalx without HTTPS encryption. You’ll handle user data and thanks to Let’s Encrypt, SSL certificates are free these days. We also do not provide support for HTTP-exclusive installations except for evaluation purposes.

Step 1: Unix user


All code lines prepended with a # symbol are commands that you need to execute on your server as root user (e.g. using sudo); you should run all lines prepended with a $ symbol as the unprivileged user.

As we do not want to run pretalx as root, we first create a new unprivileged user:

# adduser pretalx --disabled-password --home /var/pretalx

Step 2: Database setup

Having the database server installed, we still need a database and a database user. We recommend using PostgreSQL. pretalx also works (and runs tests against) MariaDB and SQLite. If you do not use PostgreSQL, please refer to the appropriate documentation on how to set up a database. For PostgreSQL, run these commands:

# sudo -u postgres createuser pretalx -P
# sudo -u postgres createdb -O pretalx pretalx

When using MySQL, make sure you set the character set of the database to utf8mb4, e.g. like this:

mysql > CREATE DATABASE pretalx DEFAULT CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 DEFAULT COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci

Step 3: Package dependencies

Besides the packages above, you might need local system packages to build and run pretalx. We cannot maintain an up-to-date dependency list for all Linux flavours, but we can offer you a list for Ubuntu. You should be able to find the appropriate packages on your system from there:

On Ubuntu-esque systems, you will need packages like:

  • build-essential

  • libssl-dev

  • python3-dev

  • gettext

  • libmysqlclient-dev if you use MariaDB

pretalx requires Python 3.6 or Python 3.7. If you cannot find one of these versions for your system, you can build it from source.


You may need to replace all following mentions of pip with pip3.6 or pip3.

Step 4: Configuration

Now we’ll create a configuration directory and configuration file for pretalx:

# mkdir /etc/pretalx
# touch /etc/pretalx/pretalx.cfg
# chown -R pretalx:pretalx /etc/pretalx/
# chmod 0600 /etc/pretalx/pretalx.cfg

Fill the configuration file /etc/pretalx/pretalx.cfg with the following content. But don’t forget to adjust it to your environment:

data = /var/pretalx/data
static = /var/pretalx/static

debug = False
url =

backend = postgresql
name = pretalx
user = pretalx
password = pretalx
host = localhost
port = 5432

from = admin@localhost
host = localhost
port = 25
user = admin
password = something
tls = False
ssl = True

Check out Configuration for details on the available configuration options.

Step 5: Installation

Please execute the following steps as the pretalx user. This isolates the pretalx environment from your global Python versions and binaries:

$ pip install --user -U pip setuptools wheel gunicorn

pretalx works with your choice of database backends – we recommend using PostgreSQL, but MySQL and SQLite work as well. Use this command to install the database driver (unless you use SQLite, which has its driver built in):


pip package


pip install --user -U psycopg2-binary


pip install --user -U mysqlclient


pip install --user -U cx_Oracle

Now we will install pretalx itself:

$ pip install --user -U pretalx

If you intend to run pretalx with asynchronous task runners or with redis as cache server, you can install pretalx[redis] instead, which will pull in the appropriate dependencies. Please note that you should also use pretalx[redis] when you upgrade pretalx in this case.

We also need to create a data directory:

$ mkdir -p /var/pretalx/data/media

We compile static files and translation data and create the database structure:

$ python -m pretalx migrate
$ python -m pretalx rebuild

Now, create a user with administrator rights, an organiser and a team by running:

$ python -m pretalx init

Step 6: Starting pretalx as a service

We recommend starting pretalx using systemd to make sure it starts up after a reboot. Create a file named /etc/systemd/system/pretalx-web.service with the following content:

Description=pretalx web service

ExecStart=/var/pretalx/.local/bin/gunicorn pretalx.wsgi \
                      --name pretalx --workers 4 \
                      --max-requests 1200  --max-requests-jitter 50 \
                      --log-level=info --bind=


If you decide to use Celery (giving you asynchronous execution for long-running tasks), you’ll also need a second service /etc/systemd/system/pretalx-worker.service with the following content:

Description=pretalx background worker

ExecStart=/var/pretalx/.local/bin/celery -A pretalx.celery_app worker -l info


You can now run the following commands to enable and start the services:

# systemctl daemon-reload
# systemctl enable pretalx-web pretalx-worker
# systemctl start pretalx-web pretalx-worker

Step 7: SSL

The following snippet is an example on how to configure a nginx proxy for pretalx:

server {
    listen 80 default_server;
    listen [::]:80 ipv6only=on default_server;
server {
    listen 443 default_server;
    listen [::]:443 ipv6only=on default_server;

    ssl on;
    ssl_certificate /path/to/cert.chain.pem;
    ssl_certificate_key /path/to/key.pem;

    add_header Referrer-Options same-origin;
    add_header X-Content-Type-Options nosniff;

    location / {
        proxy_pass http://localhost:8345/;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto https;
        proxy_set_header Host $http_host;

    location /media/ {
        alias /var/pretalx/data/media/;
        add_header Content-Disposition 'attachment; filename="$1"';
        expires 7d;
        access_log off;

    location /static/ {
        alias /path/to/static.dist/;
        access_log off;
        expires 365d;
        add_header Cache-Control "public";

We recommend reading about setting strong encryption settings for your web server.

You’ve made it! You should now be able to reach pretalx at Log in as the administrator you configured above, and create your first event!

Step 8: Check the installation

You can make sure the web interface is up and look for any issues with:

# journalctl -u pretalx-web

If you use Celery, you can do the same for the worker processes (for example in case the emails are not sent):

# journalctl -u pretalx-worker

If you’re looking for errors, check the pretalx log. You can find the logging directory in the start-up output.

Step 9: Provide periodic tasks

There are a couple of things in pretalx that should be run periodically. It doesn’t matter how you run them, so you can go with your choice of periodic tasks, be they systemd timers, cron, or something else entirely.

In the same environment as you ran the previous pretalx commands (e.g. the pretalx user), you should run

  • python -m pretalx runperiodic about every five minutes.

  • python -m pretalx clearsessions about once a month.

Next Steps

Check out Configuration for details on the available configuration options.

If you want to read about updates, backups, and monitoring, head over to our Maintenance documentation!