Site-specific settings

There are several settings that need to be defined within Argus, for example:


  • Any API keys, for instance OIDC keys and secrets


  • DATABASE-settings

  • EMAIL-settings

Two ways to define these site-specific settings are explained as follows.

Variant 1: Using environment variables in the shell

Site-specific settings can be set per 12 factor, using environment variables.

Note that environment variables can only contain numbers and strings as values. Strings have to be enclosed with double quotes, "a simple string". Use 1 to represent Boolean True, 0 for False.

In bash/zsh you set an environment variable like this:

$ export DEBUG=1

Deployment-specific systems like docker-compose, heroku or kubernetes might have their own way of setting environment variables.

Variant 2: Using a file

A settings file is a regular python file. This allows the use more complex Python data types than environment variables. A settings file will override any environment variables. and provide reasonable defaults for development and production environment. You can use and/or override them by importing them to your as follows:

from import *

Now define variables like:

DEBUG = True

Settings can be tested in and moved to the other settings files later. Use an expressive name for your file, such as

You can combine settings files and environment variables.

List of settings and environment variables

Django-specific settings

  • DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE is the environment variable to invoke the Django settings module, or settings file. For a development environment, reasonable defaults are provided in In production, a file should be created and invoked here.

  • SECRET_KEY is the Django secret key for this particular Argus instance. It contains a minimum of 50 random characters. The recommended way to generate this key is calling the command:

    $ python gen_secret_key


    Keep the SECRET_KEY secret, as it is relevant to the security and integrity of your Argus instance.


  • ARGUS_DATAPORTEN_KEY holds the id/key for using dataporten for authentication.

  • ARGUS_DATAPORTEN_SECRET holds the dataporten password.

Refer to the section Dataporten for more information.

Domain settings

  • ARGUS_COOKIE_DOMAIN holds the domain of the Argus instance. This is the domain that the cookie is set for. It is needed to log into the frontend.

  • ARGUS_FRONTEND_URL is used for redirecting back to frontend after logging in through Feide and CORS. Must either be a subdomain of or the same as ARGUS_COOKIE_DOMAIN.

In production, Argus requires the frontend and the backend to either be deployed on the same domain, or the frontend to be on a subdomain of the ARGUS_COOKIE_DOMAIN. When running Argus on localhost for development and testing, ARGUS_COOKIE_DOMAIN can be empty (and will default to localhost).

Database settings

  • DATABASE_URL contains the URL and port, as well as username, password, and name of the database to be used by Argus.

A common value in development would be:


Notification settings

  • ARGUS_SEND_NOTIFICATIONS allows sending or suppressing notifications. Default values are 1 in production and 0 otherwise.

  • DEFAULT_FROM_EMAIL the email address Argus uses as sender of email notifications.

  • EMAIL_HOST contains the smarthost (domain name) to send email through.

  • EMAIL_HOST_USER (optional) username for email host (if required).

  • EMAIL_HOST_PASSWORD (optional) password for the email host (if required).

  • EMAIL_PORT (optional) email port. Defaults to 587 in production.

In the settings file, there are also settings for which notification plugins to use:

  • DEFAULT_EMAIL_MEDIA is enabled by default and uses Django’s email backend. There are multiple email backends available that Argus’ plugin supports. It is recommended to simply switch out the email backend instead of replacing this plugin.

  • DEFAULT_SMS_MEDIA is disabled by default, since there is no standardized way of sending SMS messages. The only supported media at the moment is Uninett’s internal email-to-SMS gateway.

Enabling the email-to-SMS gateway

Argus supports sending SMS text messages via an email-to-SMS gateway, provided that this gateway conforms to the following interface:

The gateway receives email sent to a specific address. The email must contain the recipient’s phone number in the subject line. The body of the email will be sent as a text message to this number.

Argus comes with an SMS notification class that supports this kind of interface. To enable it:


  • Set SMS_GATEWAY_ADDRESS to the email address of the gateway.

Using the fallback notification filter

The setting ARGUS_FALLBACK_FILTER is a dict, by default undefined. You can set this to ensure a systemwide fallback filter for everyone:


Do not send notifications on ACKED events:

ARGUS_FALLBACK_FILTER = {"acked": False}

Ignore low priority incidents by default:

ARGUS_FALLBACK_FILTER = {"maxlevel": 3}

Do both:

ARGUS_FALLBACK_FILTER = {"acked": False, "maxlevel": 3}

Realtime updates

The Argus API can notify the frontend about changes in the list of open incidents in realtime, using a websocket (implemented using Django Channels). The realtime interface requires access to a Redis server for message passing.

By default, Argus will look for a Redis server on localhost:6379. To use a different server, set the ARGUS_REDIS_SERVER environment variable, e.g:

Debugging settings

  • DEBUG enables or disables debug-mode.

  • TEMPLATE_DEBUG (optional) provides a convenient way to turn debugging on and off for templates. If undefined, it will default to the value of DEBUG.

Other settings

Normally, you shouldn’t need to ever change these. If you do need to touch them, do it via a new settings file containing overrides.

  • ARGUS_TOKEN_COOKIE_NAME is to control the name of the cookie that contains a copy of the authentication token which is used when logging in via the frontend. The default is token, and you can change this to something else if something you cannot change in the same system also creates a cookie with the name token.


Environment variables and Argus settings may contain sensitive data, such as login credentials, secrets and passwords. Be mindful when setting these variables, and use appropriate safety precautions. For example, do not check your files into version control.