NixOS Virtualbox Dev VM

You can use the official NixOS VirtualBox appliance if you want to run the project on our preferred production system NixOS.

This will guide you from downloading the appliance to a running application.


You need VirtualBox installed on your system.


If you want to run the application elsewhere, please look at Development Quick Start

VM Preparation

The following code snippets are written for ekklesia-portal but also work for ekklesia-voting when you change the project name.

  1. Get the NixOS 21.05 VirtualBox appliance and follow the instructions there to import and start the VM. Enable clipboard integration in the VirtualBox menu bar with Devices -> Shared Clipboard -> Host to Guest so you can copy-paste longer commands from here.

  2. In the VM, open konsole (press Alt-F1 and type konsole) and run the following commands as the demo user.

  3. Add the edemocracy binary cache:

    # password for sudo is `demo`
    nix-shell -p cachix --run "sudo cachix use edemocracy"
    # ignore the instructions shown by cachix, we do that later.
  4. Edit /etc/nixos/configuration.nix (using sudo nano /etc/nixos/configuration.nix, for example) and change the imports line to:

    # no commas between list items in Nix!
    imports = [
  5. Fetch our recommended NixOS configuration with curl and put it in /etc/nixos (you can also download it here):

    curl -O
    sudo mv ekklesia_dev.nix /etc/nixos
  6. Rebuild the NixOS system to activate our configuration and reload the current shell:

    sudo nixos-rebuild switch
    exec bash
  7. Tell direnv where nix-direnv is located:

    echo "source /run/current-system/sw/share/nix-direnv/direnvrc" > ~/.direnvrc

Setting up the Project

  1. Clone the repository and change to the checked out directory:

    git clone
    cd ekklesia-portal
  2. Tell direnv to use nix-direnv whenever you enter the directory. nix-direnv starts building immediately which may take a while:

    echo "use nix" > .envrc
    direnv allow
    # direnv runs nix-build now
  3. Compile translations and CSS:

    ipython makebabel.ipy compile
    sassc -I $SASS_PATH src/ekklesia_portal/sass/portal.sass \
  4. Create a config file named config.yml using the config template from src/ekklesia_portal/config.example.yml. Under database, you have to change uri. Under app, change force_ssl to false and insecure_development_mode to true. The beginnin of the config file should look like this:

        uri: "postgresql+psycopg2:///ekklesia_portal?host=/run/postgresql"
        fts_language: 'english'
        instance_name: my_ekklesia_portal
        insecure_development_mode: true
        login_visible: true
        force_ssl: false
  5. Initialize the dev database with a custom config file:

    python tests/ -c config.yml
  6. The development server can be run with a custom config file by executing:

    python src/ekklesia_portal/ --debug -c config.yml 2>&1 | eliot-tree -l0