Open edX platform customisation

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 regis/openedx repository on Docker Hub. This is also the image that is downloaded whenever we run tutor local pullimages. 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 that, your custom image will be used for all commands. For instance:

  1. you can start a local platform with tutor local start
  2. restart the services that use the openedx image with tutor local restart openedx

Adding custom themes

Comprehensive theming is enabled by default, but only the default theme is compiled. To compile your own theme, add it to the env/build/openedx/themes/ folder:

git clone $(tutor config printroot)/env/build/openedx/themes/

The themes folder should have the following structure:


Then you must rebuild the openedx Docker image:

tutor images build openedx

Finally, follow the Open edX documentation to apply your themes. You will not have to modify the lms.env.json/cms.env.json files; just follow the instructions to add a site theme in http://localhost/admin (starting from step 3).

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 env/build/openedx/requirements/private.txt file. For instance, to include the polling xblock from Opencraft:

echo "git+" >> $(tutor config printroot)/env/build/openedx/requirements/private.txt

Then, the openedx docker image must be rebuilt:

tutor images build openedx

To install xblocks from a private repository that requires authentication, you must first clone the repository inside the openedx/requirements folder on the host:

git clone ./openedx/requirements/myprivaterepo

Then, declare your extra requirements with the -e flag in openedx/requirements/private.txt:

echo "-e ./myprivaterepo" >> $(tutor config printroot)/env/build/openedx/requirements/private.txt

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 release must be a fork of Ironwood in order to work. Otherwise, you may have important compatibility issues with other services. In particular, don’t try to run Tutor with older versions of Open edX.

Running a different openedx Docker image

By default, Tutor runs the regis/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 -y --set DOCKER_IMAGE_OPENEDX=myusername/openedx:mytag
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 quickstart.