Local VM Install

Assumptions and Prerequisites

  • Debian VM provisioned with python 2.7.x

  • All python dependencies and setup tools are installed

    $ sudo apt-get install python-setuptools
    $ sudo apt-get install build-essential
    $ sudo apt-get install python-dev
    $ sudo apt-get install libevent-dev
    $ sudo easy_install pip
  • Git

    $ sudo apt-get install git
  • Git repo is git.corp.company.com:git/docs/documentation.git

  • Source documents are in ../docs/source

  • Sphinx

    $ sudo pip install sphinx


Not using sudo may prevent access. “error: could not create ‘/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/markupsafe’: Permission denied”

Local RTD Setup

Install RTD

To host your documentation on a local RTD installation, set it up in your VM.

$ mkdir checkouts
$ cd checkouts
$ git clone https://github.com/rtfd/readthedocs.org.git
$ cd readthedocs.org
$ sudo pip install -r requirements.txt

Possible Error and Resolution

Error: error: command 'gcc' failed with exit status 1

Resolution: Run the following commands.

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install python2.7-dev tk8.5 tcl8.5 tk8.5-dev tcl8.5-dev libxml2-devel libxslt-devel
$ sudo apt-get build-dep python-imaging --fix-missing

On Debian 8 (jessie) the command is slightly different

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install python2.7-dev tk8.5 tcl8.5 tk8.5-dev tcl8.5-dev libxml2-dev libxslt-dev
$ sudo apt-get build-dep python-imaging --fix-missing

Also don’t forget to re-run the dependency installation

$ sudo pip install -r requirements.txt

Configure the RTD Server and Superuser

  1. Run the following commands.

    $ ./manage.py migrate
    $ ./manage.py createsuperuser
  2. This will prompt you to create a superuser account for Django. Enter appropriate details. For example:

    Username: monami.b
    Email address: monami.b@email.com
    Password: pa$$word

RTD Server Administration

Navigate to the ../checkouts/readthedocs.org folder in your VM and run the following command.

$ ./manage.py runserver [VM IP ADDRESS]:8000
$ curl -i http://[VM IP ADDRESS]:8000

You should now be able to log into the admin interface from any PC in your LAN at http://[VM IP ADDRESS]:8000/admin using the superuser account created in django.

Go to the dashboard at http://[VM IP ADDRESS]:8000/dashboard and follow these steps:

  1. Point the repository to your corporate Git project where the documentation source is checked in. Example: git.corp.company.com:/git/docs/documentation.git.

  2. Clone the documentation sources from Git in the VM.

  3. Navigate to the root path for documentation.

  4. Run the following Sphinx commands.

    $ make html

This generates the HTML documentation site using the default Sphinx theme. Verify the output in your local documentation folder under ../build/html

Possible Error and Resolution

Error: Couldn’t access Git Corp from VM.

Resolution: The primary access may be set from your base PC/laptop. You will need to configure your RSA keys in the VM.


  1. In your machine, navigate to the .ssh folder.

    $ cd .ssh/
    $ cat id_rsa
  2. Copy the entire Private Key.

  3. Now, SSH to the VM.

  4. Open the id_rsa file in the VM.

    $ vim /home/<username>/.ssh/id_rsa
  5. Paste the RSA key copied from your machine and save file (Esc. :wq!).

Workaround 2

SSH to the VM using the -A directive.

$ ssh document-vm -A

This provides all permissions for that particular remote session, which are revoked when you logout.

Build Documentation on Local RTD Instance

Log into http://[VM IP ADDRESS]:[PORT] using the django superuser creds and follow these steps.

For a new project

  1. Select <username> > Add Project from the user menu.

  2. Click Manually Import Project.

  3. Provide the following information in the Project Details page:

    • Name: Appropriate name for the documentation project. For example – API Docs Project
    • Repository URL: URL to the documentation project. For example - git.corp.company.com:/git/docs/documentation.git
    • Repository Type: Git
  4. Select the Edit advanced project options checkbox.

  5. Click Next.

For an existing project

  1. Select <username> > Projects from the user menu.
  2. Select the relevant project from the Projects list.
  3. Select latest from the Build a version dropdown.
  4. Click Build. This will take you to the Builds tab where the progress status is displayed. This may take some time.


  • If the installation doesn’t work on VM using your login/LDAP credentials, try running the operations as root (su).