Configuration and customisation

Tutor offers plenty of possibilities for platform customisation out of the box. There are two main ways in which the base Open edX installation can be customised:

  1. Modifying the Tutor configuration parameters.

  2. Modifying the Open edX docker image that runs the Open edX platform.

This section does not cover plugin development. For simple changes, such as modifying the *.env.yml files or the edx-platform settings, you should not fork edx-platform or tutor! Instead, you should create a simple plugin for Tutor.


With Tutor, all Open edX deployment parameters are stored in a single config.yml file. This is the file that is generated when you run tutor local launch or tutor config save. To view the content of this file, run:

cat "$(tutor config printroot)/config.yml"

By default, this file contains only the required configuration parameters for running the platform. Optional configuration parameters may also be specified to modify the default behaviour. To do so, you can edit the config.yml file manually:

vim "$(tutor config printroot)/config.yml"

Alternatively, you can set each parameter from the command line:

tutor config save --set PARAM1=VALUE1 --set PARAM2=VALUE2

Or from the system environment:


Once the base configuration is created or updated, the environment is automatically re-generated. The environment is the set of all files required to manage an Open edX platform: Dockerfile, lms.env.yml, settings files, etc. You can view the environment files in the env folder:

ls "$(tutor config printroot)/env"

With an up-to-date environment, Tutor is ready to launch an Open edX platform and perform usual operations. Below, we document some of the configuration parameters.

Individual service activation

  • RUN_ELASTICSEARCH (default: true)

  • RUN_MONGODB (default: true)

  • RUN_MYSQL (default: true)

  • RUN_REDIS (default: true)

  • RUN_SMTP (default: true)

  • ENABLE_HTTPS (default: false)

Every single Open edX service may be (de)activated at will by these configuration parameters. This is useful if you want, for instance, to distribute the various Open edX services on different servers.


Custom images

  • DOCKER_IMAGE_OPENEDX (default: "{{ DOCKER_REGISTRY }}overhangio/openedx:{{ TUTOR_VERSION }}")

This configuration parameter defines the name of the Docker image to run for the lms and cms containers. By default, the Docker image tag matches the Tutor version it was built with.

  • DOCKER_IMAGE_OPENEDX_DEV (default: "openedx-dev:{{ TUTOR_VERSION }}")

This configuration parameter defines the name of the Docker image to run the development version of the lms and cms containers. By default, the Docker image tag matches the Tutor version it was built with.

  • DOCKER_IMAGE_CADDY (default: "")

This configuration parameter defines which Caddy Docker image to use.


This configuration parameter defines which Elasticsearch Docker image to use.

  • DOCKER_IMAGE_MONGODB (default: "")

This configuration parameter defines which MongoDB Docker image to use.

  • DOCKER_IMAGE_MYSQL (default: "")

This configuration parameter defines which MySQL Docker image to use.

  • DOCKER_IMAGE_REDIS (default: "")

This configuration parameter defines which Redis Docker image to use.

  • DOCKER_IMAGE_SMTP (default: "

This configuration parameter defines which Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) Docker image to use.

  • DOCKER_IMAGE_PERMISSIONS (default: "{{ DOCKER_REGISTRY }}overhangio/openedx-permissions:{{ TUTOR_VERSION }}")

This configuration parameter defines the Docker image to be used for setting file permissions. The default image sets all containers to be run as unprivileged users.

Custom registry

  • DOCKER_REGISTRY (default: "")

You may want to pull/push images from/to a custom docker registry. For instance, for a registry running on localhost:5000, define:

DOCKER_REGISTRY: localhost:5000/

(the trailing / is important)


  • DOCKER_COMPOSE_VERSION (default: "3.7")

This configuration parameter sets the version of Docker Compose to be used to build all containers.

  • DEV_PROJECT_NAME (default: "{{ TUTOR_APP }}_dev")

This configuration parameter sets the Development version of the Docker Compose project name.

  • LOCAL_PROJECT_NAME (default: "{{ TUTOR_APP }}_local")

This configuration parameter sets the Local version of the Docker Compose project name.

Open edX customisation


This defines the git repository from which you install Open edX platform code. If you run an Open edX fork with custom patches, set this to your own git repository. You may also override this configuration parameter at build time, by providing a --build-arg option.

  • OPENEDX_COMMON_VERSION (default: "open-release/quince.1", or master in nightly)

This defines the default version that will be pulled from all Open edX git repositories.


This defines the version that will be pulled from just the Open edX platform git repositories. You may also override this configuration parameter at build time, by providing a --build-arg option.



By default, there are 2 uwsgi worker processes to serve requests for the LMS and the CMS. However, each worker requires upwards of 500 Mb of RAM. You should reduce this value to 1 if your computer/server does not have enough memory.

  • OPENEDX_CELERY_REDIS_DB (default: 0)

  • OPENEDX_CACHE_REDIS_DB (default: 1)

These two configuration parameters define which Redis database to use for Open edX cache and celery task.


Define extra pip packages that are going to be installed for edx-platform.

  • NPM_REGISTRY (default: "")

This defines the registry from which you’ll be pulling NPM packages when building Docker images. Like EDX_PLATFORM_REPOSITORY, this can be overridden at build time with a --build-arg option.

  • OPENEDX_AWS_ACCESS_KEY (default: "")

This configuration parameter sets the Django setting AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID in edx-platform’s LMS, CMS, envs, and for use by the library django-storages with Amazon S3.


This configuration parameter sets the Django setting AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY in edx-platform’s LMS, CMS, envs, and for use by the library django-storages with Amazon S3.

  • OPENEDX_MYSQL_DATABASE (default: "openedx")

This configuration parameter sets the name of the MySQL Database to be used by the Open edX Instance.

  • OPENEDX_MYSQL_USERNAME (default: "openedx")

This configuration parameter sets the username associated with the MySQL Database.


  • CMS_OAUTH2_KEY_SSO (default: "cms-sso")

This defines the Studio’s (CMS) OAUTH 2.0 Login (Key or Client ID) for SSO in the production environment.

  • CMS_OAUTH2_KEY_SSO_DEV (default: "cms-sso-dev")

This defines the Studio’s (CMS) OAUTH 2.0 Login (Key or Client ID) for SSO in the development environment.

For more information, see Enabling OAuth for Studio login.


  • JWT_COMMON_AUDIENCE (default: "openedx")

  • JWT_COMMON_ISSUER (default: "{% if ENABLE_HTTPS %}https{% else %}http{% endif %}://{{ LMS_HOST }}/oauth2")


These configuration parameters are rendered into the JWT_AUTH dictionary with keys JWT_AUDIENCE, JWT_ISSUER, and JWT_SECRET_KEY, respectively. These parameters may be changed in order to create a custom user login for testing purposes.

Vendor services


  • CADDY_HTTP_PORT (default: 80)

  • ENABLE_WEB_PROXY (default: true)

Caddy is a web server used in Tutor both as a web proxy and for the generation of SSL/TLS certificates at runtime. Port indicated by CADDY_HTTP_PORT is exposed on the host, in addition to port 443. If ENABLE_WEB_PROXY is set to false then we assume that SSL termination does not occur in the Caddy container and only CADDY_HTTP_PORT is exposed on the host.


  • RUN_MYSQL (default: true)

  • MYSQL_HOST (default: "mysql")

  • MYSQL_PORT (default: 3306)

  • MYSQL_ROOT_USERNAME (default: "root")

  • MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD (default: randomly generated) Note that you are responsible for creating the root user if you are using a managed database.

By default, a running Open edX platform deployed with Tutor includes all necessary 3rd-party services, such as MySQL, MongoDb, etc. But it’s also possible to store data on a separate database, such as Amazon RDS. For instance, to store data on an external MySQL database set the following configuration:

RUN_MYSQL: false
MYSQL_HOST: yourhost
MYSQL_ROOT_USERNAME: <root user name>
MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD: <root user password>


When configuring an external MySQL database, please make sure it is using version 5.7.


  • ELASTICSEARCH_SCHEME (default: "http")

  • ELASTICSEARCH_HOST (default: "elasticsearch")

  • ELASTICSEARCH_PORT (default: 9200)

  • ELASTICSEARCH_HEAP_SIZE (default: "1g")


  • RUN_MONGODB (default: true)

  • MONGODB_DATABASE (default: "openedx")

  • MONGODB_HOST (default: "mongodb")

  • MONGODB_PASSWORD (default: "")

  • MONGODB_PORT (default: 27017)

  • MONGODB_USERNAME (default: "")

  • MONGODB_USE_SSL (default: false)

  • MONGODB_REPLICA_SET (default: "")

  • MONGODB_AUTH_MECHANISM (default: "")

  • MONGODB_AUTH_SOURCE (default: "admin")

Note that most of these settings will have to be modified to connect to a MongoDB cluster that runs separately of Tutor, such as Atlas. In particular, the authentication source, mechanism and the SSL connection parameters should not be specified as part of the host URI but as separate Tutor settings. Supported values for MONGODB_AUTH_MECHANISM are the same as for pymongo (see the pymongo documentation).


  • RUN_REDIS (default: true)

  • REDIS_HOST (default: "redis")

  • REDIS_PORT (default: 6379)

  • REDIS_USERNAME (default: "")

  • REDIS_PASSWORD (default: "")

Note that Redis has replaced Rabbitmq as the Celery message broker since Tutor v11.0.0.


  • RUN_SMTP (default: true)

  • SMTP_HOST (default: "smtp")

  • SMTP_PORT (default: 8025)

  • SMTP_USERNAME (default: "")

  • SMTP_PASSWORD (default: "")

  • SMTP_USE_TLS (default: false)

  • SMTP_USE_SSL (default: false)

Note that the SMTP server shipped with Tutor by default does not implement TLS. With external servers, only one of SSL or TLS should be enabled, at most.

SSL/TLS certificates for HTTPS access

  • ENABLE_HTTPS (default: false)

When ENABLE_HTTPS is true, the whole Open edX platform will be reconfigured to work with “https” URIs. Calls to “http” URIs will be redirected to “https”. By default, SSL/TLS certificates will automatically be generated by Tutor (thanks to Caddy) from the Let’s Encrypt certificate authority.

The following DNS records must exist and point to your server:

LMS_HOST (e.g:
CMS_HOST (e.g:

Thus, this feature will (probably) not work in development because the DNS records will (probably) not point to your development machine.

If you would like to perform SSL/TLS termination with your own custom certificates, you will have to keep ENABLE_HTTPS=true and turn off the Caddy load balancing with ENABLE_WEB_PROXY=false. See the corresponding tutorial for more information.


  • K8S_NAMESPACE (default: "openedx")

This configuration parameter sets the Kubernetes Namespace.

Miscellaneous Project Settings

  • CONTACT_EMAIL (default: "contact@{{ LMS_HOST }}")

This configuration parameter sets the Contact Email.

  • PLATFORM_NAME (default: "My Open edX")

This configuration parameter sets the Platform Name.

Custom Open edX docker image

There are different ways you can customise your Open edX platform. For instance, optional features can be activated during configuration. But if you want to add unique features to your Open edX platform, you are going to have to modify and re-build the openedx docker image. This is the image that contains the edx-platform repository: it is in charge of running the web application for the Open edX “core”. Both the LMS and the CMS run from the openedx docker image.

On a vanilla platform deployed by Tutor, the image that is run is downloaded from the overhangio/openedx repository on Docker Hub. This is also the image that is downloaded whenever we run tutor images pull openedx. But you can decide to build the image locally instead of downloading it. To do so, build and tag the openedx image:

tutor images build openedx

The following sections describe how to modify various aspects of the docker image. Every time, you will have to re-build your own image with this command. Re-building should take ~20 minutes on a server with good bandwidth. After building a custom image, you should stop the old running containers:

tutor local stop

The custom image will be used the next time you run tutor local launch or tutor local start. Do not attempt to run tutor local restart! Restarting will not pick up the new image and will continue to use the old image.

“openedx” Docker image build arguments

When building the “openedx” Docker image, it is possible to specify a few arguments:


  • EDX_PLATFORM_VERSION (default: "{{ EDX_PLATFORM_VERSION }}", which if unset defaults to {{ OPENEDX_COMMON_VERSION }})

  • NPM_REGISTRY (default: "{{ NPM_REGISTRY }}")

These arguments can be specified from the command line, very much like Docker. For instance:

tutor images build -a EDX_PLATFORM_VERSION=customsha1 openedx

Adding custom themes

See the corresponding tutorial.

Installing extra xblocks and requirements

Would you like to include custom xblocks, or extra requirements to your Open edX platform? Additional requirements can be added to the OPENEDX_EXTRA_PIP_REQUIREMENTS parameter in the config file. For instance, to include the polling xblock from Opencraft:

tutor config save --append OPENEDX_EXTRA_PIP_REQUIREMENTS=git+

Then, the openedx docker image must be rebuilt:

tutor images build openedx

Running a fork of edx-platform

You may want to run your own flavor of edx-platform instead of the official version. To do so, you will have to re-build the openedx image with the proper environment variables pointing to your repository and version:

tutor images build openedx \
    --build-arg EDX_PLATFORM_REPOSITORY=https://mygitrepo/edx-platform.git \
    --build-arg EDX_PLATFORM_VERSION=my-tag-or-branch

Note that your edx-platform version must be a fork of the latest release tag (and not branch) in order to work. This latest tag can be obtained by running:

tutor config printvalue OPENEDX_COMMON_VERSION

If you don’t create your fork from this tag, you will have important compatibility issues with other services. In particular:

  • Do not try to run a fork from an older (pre-Quince) version of edx-platform: this will simply not work.

  • Do not try to run a fork from the edx-platform master branch: there is a 99% probability that it will fail.

  • Do not try to run a fork from the open-release/quince.master branch: Tutor will attempt to apply security and bug fix patches that might already be included in the open-release/quince.master but which were not yet applied to the latest release tag. Patch application will thus fail if you base your fork from the open-release/quince.master branch.

Adding custom translations

If you are not running Open edX in English (LANGUAGE_CODE default: "en"), chances are that some strings will not be properly translated. In most cases, this is because not enough contributors have helped translate Open edX into your language. It happens! With Tutor, available translated languages include those that come bundled with edx-platform as well as those from openedx-i18n.

Tutor offers a relatively simple mechanism to add custom translations to the openedx Docker image. You should create a folder that corresponds to your language code in the “build/openedx/locale” folder of the Tutor environment. This folder should contain a “LC_MESSAGES” folder. For instance:

mkdir -p "$(tutor config printroot)/env/build/openedx/locale/fr/LC_MESSAGES"

The language code should be similar to those used in edx-platform or openedx-i18n (see links above).

Then, add a “django.po” file there that will contain your custom translations:

msgid ""
msgstr ""
"Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8"

msgid "String to translate"
msgstr "你翻译的东西 la traduction de votre bidule"


Don’t forget to specify the file Content-Type when adding message strings with non-ASCII characters; otherwise a UnicodeDecodeError will be raised during compilation.

The “String to translate” part should match exactly the string that you would like to translate. You cannot make it up! The best way to find this string is to copy-paste it from the upstream django.po file for the English language.

If you cannot find the string to translate in this file, then it means that you are trying to translate a string that is used in some piece of javascript code. Those strings are stored in a different file named “djangojs.po”. You can check it out in the edx-platform repo as well. Your custom javascript strings should also be stored in a “djangojs.po” file that should be placed in the same directory.

To recap, here is an example. To translate a few strings in French, both from django.po and djangojs.po, we would have the following file hierarchy:

$(tutor config printroot)/env/build/openedx/locale/

With django.po containing:

msgid ""
msgstr ""
"Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8"

msgid "It works! Powered by Open edX{registered_trademark}"
msgstr "Ça marche ! Propulsé by Open edX{registered_trademark}"

And djangojs.po:

msgid ""
msgstr ""
"Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8"

msgid "%(num_points)s point possible (graded, results hidden)"
msgid_plural "%(num_points)s points possible (graded, results hidden)"
msgstr[0] "%(num_points)s point possible (noté, résultats cachés)"
msgstr[1] "%(num_points)s points possibles (notés, résultats cachés)"

Then you will have to re-build the openedx Docker image:

tutor images build openedx

Beware that this will take a long time! Unfortunately, it’s difficult to accelerate this process, as translation files need to be compiled before collecting the assets. In development it’s possible to accelerate the iteration loop – but that exercise is left to the reader.

Running a different openedx Docker image

By default, Tutor runs the overhangio/openedx docker image from Docker Hub. If you have an account on or you have a private image registry, you can build your image and push it to your registry with:

tutor config save --set
tutor images build openedx
tutor images push openedx

(See the relevant configuration parameters.)

The customised Docker image tag value will then be used by Tutor to run the platform, for instance when running tutor local launch.

Passing custom docker build options

You can set a limited set of Docker build options via tutor images build command. In some situations it might be necessary to tweak the docker build command, ex- setting up build caching using buildkit. In these situations, you can set --docker-arg flag in the tutor images build command. You can set any supported options in the docker build command, For example:

tutor images build openedx \
    --build-arg BUILDKIT_INLINE_CACHE=1 \
    --docker-arg="--cache-from" \

This will result in passing the --cache-from option with the value to the docker build command.