A step-by-step introduction to Circus


Circus is a process & socket manager. See https://circus.readthedocs.org

Photo by kennethreitz

During Django Con, I was asked how to use Circus to run & monitor a Python web application. The documentation has no single page step-by-step tutorial yet, so here goes... this blog post will be integrated into the documentation for the next release.


Circus is tested under Mac OS X and Linux, on the latest Python 2.6 and 2.7. To run a full Circus, you will also need libzmq, libevent & virtualenv.

Under Debuntu:

$ sudo apt-get install libzmq-dev libevent python-virtualenv

Create a virtualenv and install circus, circus-web and chaussette in it

$ virtualenv /tmp/circus
$ cd /tmp/circus
$ bin/pip install circus
$ bin/pip install circus-web
$ bin/pip install chaussette

Once this is done, you'll find a plethora of commands in the local bin dir.


Chaussette comes with a default Hello world app, try to run it:

$ bin/chaussette

You should be able to visit http://localhost:8080 and see hello world.

Stop Chaussette and add a circus.ini file in the directory containing:

stats_endpoint = tcp://
httpd = 1

cmd = bin/chaussette --fd $(circus.sockets.web)
numprocesses = 3
use_sockets = True

host =
port = 9999

This config file tells Circus to bind a socket on port 9999 and run 3 chaussettes workers against it. It also activates the Circus web dashboard and the statistics module.

Save it & run it using circusd:

$ bin/circusd --daemon circus.ini

Now visit, you should see the hello world app.

You can also visit http://localhost:8080/ and enjoy the Circus web dashboard.


Let's use the circusctl shell while the system is running:

$ bin/circusctl
circusctl 0.7.1
circusd-stats: active
circushttpd: active
webapp: active

You get into an interactive shell. Type help to get all commands:

(circusctl) help

Documented commands (type help <topic>):
add     get            list         numprocesses  quit     rm      start   stop
decr    globaloptions  listen       numwatchers   reload   set     stats
dstats  incr           listsockets  options       restart  signal  status

Undocumented commands:
EOF  help

Let's try basic things. Let's list the web workers processes and add a new one:

(circusctl) list webapp
(circusctl) incr webapp
(circusctl) list webapp

Congrats, you've interacted with your Circus! Get off the shell with Ctrl+D and now run circus-top:

$ bin/circus-top

This is a top-like command to watch all your processes' memory and CPU usage in real time.

Hit Ctrl+C and now let's quit Circus completely via circus-ctl:

$ bin/circusctl quit

Next steps

You can plug your own WSGI application instead of Chaussette's hello world simply by pointing the application callable.

Chaussette also comes with many backends like Gevent or Meinheld.

Read https://chaussette.readthedocs.org/ for all options.