Ruby on Rails

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Ruby on Rails, often shortened to Rails or RoR, is an open source web application framework for the Ruby programming language. It is intended to be used with an Agile development methodology that is used by web developers for rapid development.

This document describes how to set up the Ruby on Rails Framework on an Arch Linux system.


Ruby on Rails requires Ruby to be installed, so read that article first for installation instructions. The nodejs package is also required if using uglifier (Ruby wrapper for UglifyJS JavaScript compressor, optional)


Note: You can also install Rails system-wide using Gems. To do this, run the following commands as root and append them with --no-user-install. Please read Ruby#Installing gems per-user or system-wide for possible dangers of using RubyGem in this way.

The following command will install Rails for the current user:

$ gem install rails

Building the documentation takes a while. If you want to skip it, append --no-document to the install command.

$ gem install rails --no-document

gem is a package manager for Ruby modules, somewhat like pacman is to Arch Linux. To update your gems, simply run:

$ gem update


Install the ruby-railsAUR package. Alternatively, see Ruby#Managing RubyGems using pacman.

Quarry binary repository

Install ruby-rails from the unofficial quarry repository.


Rails is bundled with a basic HTTP server called WeBrick. You can create a test application to test it. First, create an application with the rails command:

$ rails new testapp_name
Note: If you get an error like Errno::ENOENT: No such file or directory (...) An error occurred while installing x, and Bundler cannot continue., you might have to configure Bundler so that it installs gems per-user and not system-wide. Alternatively, run # rails new testapp_name once as root. If it has completed successfully, delete testapp_name/ and run $ rails new testapp_name again as a regular user.
Note: If you get an error message like this:
... FetchError: SSL_connect returned=1 errno= 0 state=SSLv2/v3 read server hello A: sslv3 alert handshake
failure ( 
install nodejs and try again.

This creates a new folder inside your current working directory.

$ cd testapp_name

Next start the web server. It listens on port 3000 by default:

$ rails server

Now visit the testapp_name website on your local machine by opening http://localhost:3000 in your browser

Note: If Ruby complains about not being able to find a JavaScript runtime, install nodejs.

A test-page should shown greeting you "Welcome aboard".

Application servers

The built-in Ruby On Rails HTTP server (WeBrick) is convenient for basic development, but it is not recommended for production use. Instead, you should use an application server such as #Thin, #Unicorn or Phusion Passenger.


Thin is a fast and very simple Ruby web server.

First install thin gem:

$ gem install thin

Then start it using:

$ thin start


Unicorn is an application server that cannot talk directly to clients. Instead, a web server must sit between clients and Unicorn, proxying requests as needed. Unicorn is loosely based on Mongrel. It is used by Github, and it uses an architecture that tries hard to find the best child for handling a request. Explanation of differences between Unicorn and Mongrel.

Install the Unicorn gem:

# gem install unicorn

Then create a configuration file for your application in /etc/unicorn/. For example; here is a configuration example (Based on [1]) for Redmine:

working_directory "/srv/http/redmine"
pid "/tmp/"

preload_app true
timeout 60
worker_processes 4
listen 4000

GC.respond_to?(:copy_on_write_friendly=) and GC.copy_on_write_friendly = true

after_fork do |server, worker|
	#start the worker on port 4000, 4001, 4002 etc...
	addr = "{4000 +}"
	# infinite tries to start the worker
	server.listen(addr, :tries => -1, :delay => -1, :backlog => 128)

	#Drop privileges if running as root
	worker.user('nobody', 'nobody') if Process.euid == 0

Start it using:

# /usr/bin/unicorn -D -E production -c /etc/unicorn/

Systemd service

Put the following contents in /etc/systemd/system/unicorn.service:

Description=Unicorn application server

ExecStart=/usr/bin/unicorn -D -E production -c /etc/unicorn/


You can now easily start and stop unicorn using systemctl

Nginx Configuration

After setting up Nginx, configure unicorn as an upstream server using something like this (Warning: this is a stripped example. It probably does not work without additional configuration):

http {
	upstream unicorn {
		server fail_timeout=0;
		server fail_timeout=0;
		server fail_timeout=0;
		server fail_timeout=0;

	server {
		listen		80 default;

		location / {
			root			/srv/http/redmine/public;
			proxy_set_header	X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
			proxy_set_header Host   $http_host;
			proxy_redirect		off;
			proxy_pass		http://unicorn;

Apache/Nginx (using Phusion Passenger)

Passenger also known as mod_rails is a module available for Nginx and Apache, that greatly simplifies setting up a Rails server environment. Nginx does not support modules as Apache and has to be compiled with mod_rails in order to support Passenger; let Passenger compile it for you. As for Apache, let Passenger set up the module for you.

Start by installing the 'passenger' gem:

# gem install passenger

If you are aiming to use Apache, run:

# passenger-install-apache2-module

In case a rails application is deployed with a sub-URI, like, some additional configuration is required, see the modrails documentation

For Nginx:

# passenger-install-nginx-module

The installer will provide you with any additional information regarding the installation (such as installing additional libraries).

To serve an application with Nginx, configure it as follows:

server {
    root path_to_app/public; # Be sure to point to 'public' folder!
    passenger_enabled on;
    rails_env development; # Rails environment.

Puma (with Nginx as reverse proxy server)

Puma (Github Page) is a simple, fast, threaded, and highly concurrent HTTP 1.1 server for Ruby/Rack applications, and is considered the replacement for Webrick and Mongrel. It was designed to be the go-to server for Rubinius, but also works well with JRuby and MRI. While reverse proxy server would acts as a load balancer that routes all external requests to a pool of web apps.

For a webserver it is better to use a server user and group, check Users and groups#Example adding a user, below use rails as user name and server as group name, also my_app as rails app name.

Start by copying your app to /var/www/my_app. And set new ownership with

# cd /var/www/
# chown -R rails:server my_app

and permission for user with

# chmod -R 775 my_app

Then add puma gem in the Gemfile and install with

$ cd my_app 
$ bundle install

Also install nginx by pacman.

Under your app folder, create sockets, pid and log folder with

$ mkdir -p shared/pids shared/sockets shared/log

Backup nginx.conf with

# cp /etc/nginx/nginx.conf /etc/nginx/nginx.conf.backup

Then create a new nginx.conf file with your favorite editor, copy codes below and modify as you like:

#user html;
worker_processes  1; # this may connect with the worker numbers puma can use.

#error_log  logs/error.log;
#error_log  logs/error.log  notice;
#error_log  logs/error.log  info;

#pid        logs/;

events {
    worker_connections  1024;

http {
	upstream app {
	    # Path to Puma SOCK file, as defined previously
 	    server unix:/var/www/my_app/shared/sockets/puma.sock;

	server {
	    listen 80;
	    server_name localhost; # or your server name

	    root /var/www/my_app/public;

	    try_files $uri/index.html $uri @app;

	    location @app {
		proxy_pass http://app;
		proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
		proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
		proxy_redirect off;

	    error_page 500 502 503 504 /500.html;
	    client_max_body_size 4G;
	    keepalive_timeout 10;

Start nginx service with

# systemctl start nginx

There are several ways to start puma server, two ways are recommended below:

In common create file config/puma.rb, copy codes below and modify as you like:

# Change to match your CPU core count
# You can check available worker numbers with $ grep -c processor /proc/cpuinfo
# also see the comment in the nginx.conf
workers 2

# Min and Max threads per worker
#threads 1, 6

app_dir = File.expand_path("../..", __FILE__)
shared_dir = "#{app_dir}/shared"

# Default to production
#rails_env = ENV['RAILS_ENV'] || "production"
#environment rails_env

# Set up socket location
bind "unix://#{shared_dir}/sockets/puma.sock"

# Logging
#stdout_redirect "#{shared_dir}/log/puma.stdout.log", "#{shared_dir}/log/puma.stderr.log", true

# Set master PID and state locations
pidfile "#{shared_dir}/pids/"
#state_path "#{shared_dir}/pids/puma.state"

#on_worker_boot do
#  require "active_record"
#  ActiveRecord::Base.connection.disconnect! rescue ActiveRecord::ConnectionNotEstablished
#  ActiveRecord::Base.establish_connection(YAML.load_file("#{app_dir}/config/database.yml")[rails_env])

Option A: With config file

Start server with

$ bundle exec puma -C config/puma.rb

You can also run it in background with parameter -d and check with

$ pgrep puma

when you want to kill it.

If you want to keep it after you log out, you can use

$ nohup bundle exec puma -C config/puma.rb &

But if the system reboot, the process will still get lost.

Option 2: by systemd

Create a new systemd unit puma.service under ~/.config/systemd/user/ and copy codes below

Description=Puma application server

ExecStart=/home/rails/.gem/ruby/2.2.0/bin/bundle exec \
	 /home/rails/.gem/ruby/2.2.0/bin/puma \
	 -C /var/www/my_app/config/puma.rb


Hint: For ExecStart, if you've installed gem globally, you can change routes to /usr/local/bin/ in ExecStart.

Then start puma with

$ systemctl --user start puma

To enable puma system-widely: You need to store puma.service in /etc/systemd/system/ and modify it as below:

Description=Puma application server

ExecStart=/home/rails/.gem/ruby/2.2.0/bin/bundle exec \
	 /home/rails/.gem/ruby/2.2.0/bin/puma \
	 -C /var/www/my_app/config/puma.rb


For further reading take a look at #References. Also, for easily deploying app in production mode, you can try capistrano


Most web applications will need to interact with some sort of database. ActiveRecord (the ORM used by Rails to provide database abstraction) supports several database vendors, the most popular of which are MySQL, SQLite, and PostgreSQL.


SQLite is the default lightweight database for Ruby on Rails. To enable SQLite, simply install sqlite.


Install postgresql.


First, install and configure a MySQL server. Please refer to MySQL on how to do this.

A gem with some native extensions is required, probably best installed as root:

# gem install mysql

You can generate a rails application configured for MySQL by using the -d parameter:

$ rails new testapp_name -d mysql

You then need to edit config/database.yml. Rails uses different databases for development, testing, production and other environments. Here is an example development configuration for MySQL running on localhost:

   adapter: mysql
   database: my_application_database
   username: development
   password: my_secret_password

Note that you do not have to actually create the database using MySQL, as this can be done via Rails with:

# rake db:create

If no errors are shown, then your database has been created and Rails can talk to your MySQL database.

The Perfect Rails Setup

Phusion Passenger running multiple Ruby versions.

  • Arch Linux: A simple, lightweight distribution. ;)
  • Nginx: A fast and lightweight web server with a strong focus on high concurrency, performance and low memory usage.
  • Passenger (a.k.a. mod_rails or mod_rack): Supports both Apache and Nginx web servers. It makes deployment of Ruby web applications, such as those built on Ruby on Rails web framework, a breeze.
  • Ruby Version Manager (RVM): A command-line tool which allows you to easily install, manage, and work with multiple Ruby environments from interpreters to sets of gems. RVM lets you deploy each project with its own completely self-contained and dedicated environment —from the specific version of ruby, all the way down to the precise set of required gems to run your application—.
  • SQLite: The default lightweight database for Ruby on Rails.

Step 0: SQLite

Install sqlite.

Note: Of course SQLite is not critical in this setup, you can use MySQL and PostgreSQL as well.

Step 1: RVM

Make a multi-user RVM installation as specified here.

In the 'adding users to the rvm group' step, do

# usermod -a -G rvm http
# usermod -a -G rvm nobody

http and nobody are the users related to Nginx and Passenger, respectively.

Note: Maybe adding the 'nobody' user to the 'rvm' group is not necessary.

Step 2: Rubies

Once you have a working RVM installation in your hands, it is time to install the latest Ruby interpreter

Note: During the installation of Ruby patches will be applied. Consider installing the base-devel group beforehand.
$ rvm install 2.0.0
Note: It may be useful to delete the 'global' gemsets of the environments that have web applications. Their gems might somehow interfere with Passenger. In that case, a rvm 2.0.0 do gemset delete global is sufficient.

Step 3: Nginx with Passenger support

Run the following to allow passenger install nginx:

$ rvm use 2.0.0 
$ gem install passenger
$ rvmsudo passenger-install-nginx-module

The passenger gem will be put into the default gemset.

This will download the sources of Nginx, compile and install it for you. It will guide you through all the process. Note that the default location for Nginx will be /opt/nginx.

Note: If you encounter a compilation error regarding Boost threads, see this article.

After completion, add the following two lines into the 'http block' at /opt/nginx/conf/nginx.conf that look like:

http { 
  passenger_root /usr/local/rvm/gems/ruby-2.0.0-p353/gems/passenger-3.0.9;
  passenger_ruby /usr/local/rvm/wrappers/ruby-2.0.0-p353/ruby;
Note: This step is currently being done automatically by the installer script.

Step 4: Gemsets and Apps

For each Rails application you should have a gemset. Suppose that you want to try RefineryCMS against BrowserCMS, two open-source Content Management Systems based on Rails.

Install RefineryCMS first:

$ rvm use 2.0.0@refinery --create
$ gem install rails -v 4.0.1
$ gem install passenger
$ gem install refinerycms refinerycms-i18n sqlite3

Deploy a RefineryCMS instance called refineria:

$ cd /srv/http/
$ rvmsudo refinerycms refineria

Install BrowserCMS in a different gemset:

$ rvm use 2.0.0@browser --create
$ gem install rails -v 4.0.1
$ gem install passenger
$ gem install browsercms sqlite3

Deploy a BrowserCMS instance called navegador:

$ cd /srv/http/
$ rvmsudo browsercms demo navegador
$ cd /srv/http/navegador
$ rvmsudo rake db:install

Passenger for Nginx and Passenger Standalone

Observe that the passenger gem was installed three times and with different intentions; in the environments

  • 2.0.0 => for Nginx,
  • 2.0.0@refinery => Standalone
  • 2.0.0@browser => Standalone

The strategy is to combine Passenger for Nginx with Passenger Standalone. One must first identify the Ruby environment (interpreter plus gemset) that one uses the most; in this setup the Ruby interpreter and the default gemset were selected. One then proceeds with setting up Passenger for Nginx to use that environment (step 3).

  • Applications within the chosen environment can be served as in Apache/Nginx (using Phusion Passenger), page up in this article.
  • All applications that are to use a different Ruby version and/or gemset can be served separately through Passenger Standalone and hook into the main web server via a reverse proxy configuration (step 6).

Step 5: .rvmrc files and ownerships

This step is crucial for the correct behaviour of the setup. RVM seeks for .rvmrc files when changing folders; if it finds one, it reads it. In these files normally one stores a line like

rvm <ruby_version>@<gemset_name>

so the specified environment is set at the entrance of applications' root folder.

Create /srv/http/refineria/.rvmrc doing

# echo "rvm ree@refinery" > /srv/http/refineria/.rvmrc

, and /srv/http/navegador/.rvmrc with

# echo "rvm 2.0.0@browser" > /srv/http/navegador/.rvmrc

You have to enter to both application root folders now, because every first time that RVM finds a .rvmrc it asks you if you trust the given file, consequently you must validate the two files you have just created.

These files aid the programs involved to find the correct gems.

Apart, if applications' files and folders are not owned by the right user you will face database write-access problems. The use of rvmsudo produces root-owned archives when generated by Rails; in the other hand, nobody is the user for Passenger —if you have not changed it—: who will use and should posses them. Fix this doing

# chown -R nobody.nobody /srv/http/refineria /srv/http/navegador

Step 6: Reverse proxies

You have to start the Passenger Standalone web servers for your applications. So, do

$ cd /srv/http/refineria
$ rvmsudo passenger start --socket tmp/sockets/passenger.socket -d


$ cd /srv/http/navegador
$ rvmsudo passenger start --socket tmp/sockets/passenger.socket -d

. The first time that you run a Passenger Standalone it will perform a minor installation.

Note that you are using unix domain sockets instead of the commonly-used TCP sockets; it turns out that unix domain are significantly faster than TCP sockets.

Note: If you are experimenting trouble with unix sockets, changing to TCP should work:
rvmsudo passenger start -a -p 3000 -d

Launch Passenger Standalone daemons at system start-up

Do you have a script? Please post it here.

The systemd script below was made for a Typo blog I host at /srv/http/typo. It is located at /etc/systemd/system/passenger_typo.service. I set the Environment= tags (see "man systemd.exec") from the output of "rvm env". The only exception was PATH=, which I had to combine from my regular PATH and the output of rvm env.

Note: If you do not set the "WorkingDirectory=" variable to your application folder, passenger will fail to find your app and will subsequently shut itself down.

Description=Passenger Standalone Script for Typo



ExecStart=/bin/bash -c "rvmsudo passenger start --socket /srv/http/typo/tmp/sockets/passenger.socket -d"


Step 7: Deployment

With subdomains

Once again edit /opt/nginx/conf/nginx.conf to include some vital instructions:

## RefineryCMS ##

server {
    root /srv/http/refineria/public;
    location / {
        proxy_pass http://unix:/srv/http/refineria/tmp/sockets/passenger.socket;
        proxy_set_header Host $host;

## BrowserCMS ##

server {
    root /srv/http/navegador/public;
    location / {
        proxy_pass http://unix:/srv/http/navegador/tmp/sockets/passenger.socket;
        proxy_set_header Host $host;
Note: Or if using TCP sockets, configure the proxy_pass directive like

Without subdomains

If you for some reason do not want to host each application on its own subdomain but rather in a url like: then you could do something like this in your config:

server {
    #Base for the html files etc
    root /srv/http/;

    #First application you want hosted under domain
    location /railsapp {
        root /srv/http/railsapp/public;
        #you may need to change passenger_base_uri to be the uri you want to point at, ie:
        #passenger_base_uri /railsapp;
        #but probably only if you are using the other solution with passenger phusion
        proxy_pass http://unix:/srv/http/railsapp/tmp/sockets/passenger.socket;
        proxy_set_header Host $host;

    #Second applicatino you want hosted under domain
    location /anotherapp {
        root /srv/http/anotherapp/public;
        #same thing about the passenger_base_uri here, but with value /anotherapp instead
        proxy_pass http://unix:/srv/http/anotherapp/tmp/sockets/passenger.socket;
        proxy_set_header Host $host;

At this point you are in conditions to run Nginx with:

# systemctl start nginx

and to access both CMSs through and


See also