Read my latest article: 8 things I look for in a Ruby on Rails app (posted Thu, 06 Jul 2017 17:59:00 GMT)

Installing Ruby on Rails, Passenger, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Oh My Zsh on Snow Leopard, Fourth Edition

Posted by Mon, 08 Feb 2010 19:14:00 GMT

Welcome to what seems like my tenth installment (actually, it’s the fourth) of showing you how I setup my development environment on a fresh OSX install. In this case, I’m actually getting a MacBook setup for a new employee with Snow Leopard.

Over the years, I’ve evolved these following steps and they’ve helped our team maintain a consistent and stable envirnment for Ruby on Rails development. I know that there are a few other ways to approaching this and I’m sure you’ll get similar results, but this approach has allowed me to maintain a hassle-free setup for the last five years.

As with all things… your milage may vary.

Phase One

During this initial phase, we’re going to install the primary dependencies and setup our environment.

XCode

The first thing that you’ll need to do is install XCode, which almost everything depends upon as this will install developer-friendly tools for you. Apple has been kind enough to ship this on your Snow Leopard DVD.

Go ahead and install XCode from the Optional Installs folder.

(might require a reboot)

You can also download it online.

MacPorts

Now we’ll install MacPorts, which the web site describes itself as, “an open-source community initiative to design an easy-to-use system for compiling, installing, and upgrading either command-line, X11 or Aqua based open-source software on the Mac OS X operating system.”

As I’ve said in past versions of this guide, this tool is about to become one of the most important tools on your operating system. It’ll be used time and time again to maintain your libraries and many of the Unix tools that you’ll be using. If you’re from the Linux or BSD world, you are likely familiar with similar tools… such as: apt-get, port, and yum.

You’ll want to download the latest stable version from http://www.macports.org/. Once downloaded, you can install it.

Once this is installed, you’ll be able to use the port command from your console.

Wget

Let’s test out your MacPorts install by installing a useful tool called wget, which we’ll use to install oh-my-zsh.

sudo port install wget

Git and Subversion

Every development environment should have some source code management tools available. We’ll install both of these with one command.

sudo port install git-core +svn

This will install git and subversion.

oh-my-zsh

Oh My Zsh is the most amazing thing to happen to shells since… well since I said so. It’s one of my open source projects that I encourage you to give a whirl.

wget http://github.com/robbyrussell/oh-my-zsh/raw/master/tools/install.sh -O - | sh

That’s it. The next time you open up your terminal, you’ll be running zsh with a bunch of stuff available. For more information, visit http://github.com/robbyrussell/oh-my-zsh.

Terminal theme (optional)

I never understood why the icon for Terminal has a black background but when you start it up the default theme is black on white.

versus

Anyhow, I’m a fan of the the dark background. To change this, open up preferences in Terminal. Select Pro, then click on the Default window so that this sticks around.

Let’s now open up a new Terminal window..

You should be looking at something like this:

Much better… let’s continue.

Phase Two

We’re now going to start installing everything we need to get this running.

Ruby 1.8.7.x

First up, Ruby.

Snow Leopard includes Ruby and Rails already installed, but we’re going to back these up for a rainy day. Just issue these commands:


$ sudo su -
Password:
:~ root# mv /usr/bin/ruby /usr/bin/ruby.orig
:~ root# mv /usr/bin/gem /usr/bin/gem.orig
:~ root# mv /usr/bin/rails /usr/bin/rails.orig
:~ root# logout

Now we’ll go ahead and install a fresh copy of Ruby and RubyGems via MacPorts.

sudo port install ruby rb-rubygems

You should now see something like this for a bit…

Let’s watch a video about bumble bees.

When it finishes installing, you should check that Ruby is available to you and installed in /opt/local/bin.

We’ll also take a second to create a symlink for this as some tools seem to rely on /usr/bin/ruby being there.

sudo ln -s /opt/local/bin/ruby /usr/bin/ruby

Great, let’s move on.

Passenger (mod_rails)

Now that we have Ruby installed, we’re going to take a quick detour to setup Passenger with the Apache server already available on your machine. I’ve been a big fan of using Passenger for your development for over a year now.

sudo gem install passenger

Once the gem is finished installing, you’ll need to install the apache2 module with the following command:

It’ll ask you to continue by pressing Enter. At this point, it’ll check that you have all the necessary dependencies and then compile everything needed for Apache2.

Now I’ll force you to watch a highlights reel of Fernando Torres… the best striker in the world!

The passenger install will then show you this output, which you’ll want to stop and read for a moment and highlight the following:

Then using vi or emacs, you’ll want to create a new file with the following content:

vi /etc/apache2/other/passenger.conf

Then paste in the following (what you highlighted and copied above.)


LoadModule passenger_module /opt/local/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.2.9/ext/apache2/mod_passenger.so
PassengerRoot /opt/local/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.2.9
PassengerRuby /opt/local/bin/ruby

You’ll also want to include the following below what you just pasted.


  # Set the default environment to development
  RailsEnv development

  # Which directory do you want Apache to be able to look into for projects?
  <Directory "/Users/ryangensel/development">
      Order allow,deny
      Allow from all
  </Directory>

You’ll want to quickly start up your web sharing, which will start Apache2 up via your System Preferences.

Simple enough… moving forward.

Passenger Pref Pane

To make things as simple as possible, I’d encourage you to install the Passenger Preference Pane (view this post for a download).

Development directory

I have a directory named development/ in my home directory, which is where I end up storing all of my projects. This should match whatever you put above in the apache configuration (<Directory "/Users/ryangensel/development">).

mkdir development; cd development;

Installing Ruby on Rails via RubyGems

Now we’ll use RubyGems to install the latest version of Ruby on Rails (and all of it’s dependencies).

sudo gem install rails

While this is installing, you can watch a video from my old band that ended around the time that business started picking up for Planet Argon.

Great, let’s test out the install of Rails…

Test Rails and Passenger

In your development directory, let’s quickly a new Rails app…

rails testapp

This will generate a new Rails application in a testapp/ directory.

Now open up the Passenger Preferences Pane and add this directory as a new application.

Press Apply…

You should now fire up your browser of choice and head to http://testapp.local. If all has worked, you’ll see a, “Welcome aboard” screen from the Ruby on Rails application.

Assuming that this worked for you, let’s take a quick break to make some tea…

Phase Three

In this last phase, we’re going to install a few database servers and corresponding rubygems so that you can get to work.

PostgreSQL

At Planet Argon, we build our web applications on top of PostgreSQL. I’ve been a long-time advocate of it and hope you consider using it yourself.

At this point in time, the current stable version of PostgreSQL via MacPorts is 8.4.x. Let’s install that now…

sudo port install postgresql84 postgresql84-server

Once this finishes compiling, you’ll need to run the following commands to setup a new PostgreSQL database.


sudo mkdir -p /opt/local/var/db/postgresql84/defaultdb
sudo chown postgres:postgres /opt/local/var/db/postgresql84/defaultdb
sudo su postgres -c '/opt/local/lib/postgresql84/bin/initdb -D /opt/local/var/db/postgresql84/defaultdb'

Assuming that you want PostgreSQL to always be running, you can run:

sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.macports.postgresql84-server.plist

...and to start it right now, run:

sudo launchctl start org.macports.postgresql84-server

Before you can start using it, we’ll need to make sure that the PostgreSQL executables are available in your shell path. Since you’re now using oh-my-zsh, you’ll want to edit ~/.zshrc with your favorite editor.

vi ~/.zshrc

Just append this to export PATH= line in the file.

:/opt/local/lib/postgresql84/bin

Your PATH might look something like the following now:

@# Customize to your needs… export PATH=/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/X11/bin:/opt/local/lib/postgresql84/bin@

Setup database user

To setup a new database (with superuser credentials), just run:

createuser --superuser ryangensel -U postgres

We’ll now test creating a database:

createdb test_db

Let’s test that we can access it…


➜  ~  psql test_db
psql (8.4.2)
Type "help" for help.

test_db=# \q

Great, let’s drop it now.


➜  ~  dropdb test_db
➜  ~  psql test_db
psql: FATAL:  database "test_db" does not exist
➜  ~

Okay, we’ll now install the library that will allow Ruby to talk to PostgreSQL.

Just run: sudo gem install pg

Voila… let’s move on to the inferior database…

MySQL

We’re going to run through the installation of MySQL really quickly because you might need it.

sudo port install mysql5 mysql5-server

This took ages on my machine… so let’s watch a video.

We’ll now setup the database and make sure it starts on system boot.


 sudo -u _mysql mysql_install_db5
 sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.macports.mysql5.plist
 sudo launchctl start org.macports.mysql5

Let’s test that we can create a database now (and that it’s running.)


 ➜  ~  mysql5 -u root
 Welcome to the MySQL monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
 Your MySQL connection id is 3
 Server version: 5.1.43 Source distribution

 Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the current input statement.

 mysql> create database test1;
 Query OK, 1 row affected (0.00 sec)

 mysql> \q

Great, we’ll now install the library that will allow Ruby to talk to MySQL.

sudo gem install mysql -- --with-mysql-config=/opt/local/lib/mysql5/bin/mysql_config

That should be it!

Phase Four, next steps

Okay… so we’ve installed XCode, MacPorts, Ruby, Rails, PostgreSQL, MySQL… and I’ve also got you to switch your default terminal shell from bash to zsh. You might take a look over the available themes for Oh My Zsh so that you can personalize your terminal experience even further.

You also now have a handful of gems installed as you can see with gem list.

Closing thoughts…

This is the fourth version of this guide and I’ve appreciated the hundreds of comments, questions, and emails that I have received… let’s not forget all those beers that people buy me when I’m at conferences. :-)

I hope you have found some of this useful. If you have any problems and/or questions, don’t hesitate to post them in the comments section below.

Ch-ch-ch-changes at Planet Argon

Posted by Wed, 12 Aug 2009 23:31:00 GMT

Now that the cat is out of the bag, I can share some recent news with you. Earlier today, we announced that Blue Box Group had acquired Rails Boxcar, our kickass deployment solution for Ruby on Rails applications.

Our team has been offering hosting services for over six years. When I made the decision to start providing Rails hosting over four years ago, it was something that I thought the community needed to validate that Ruby on Rails was a viable solution for building web applications. At the time, there was only one or two companies offering pre-configured solutions. The good ole days. :-)

Over the course of the past 4+ years, we’ve helped deploy and host well over a thousand web applications built with Ruby on Rails. Perhaps we even hosted your site at one point or another. We definitely had a lot of fun and learned a lot from our experience.

Fast-forward four years, the community now has several great solutions and options for hosting their Ruby on Rails applications. Knowing this, we began to look over the plethora of services that we offer and felt that we had been spreading ourselves too thinly. We were faced with the big question of: Should we focus our energy on trying to innovate in this competitive space or should we find a community-respected vendor to pass the torch to?

Rails Boxcar is a product that we are extremely proud of and believe the acquisition by Blue Box Group will be great for our existing customers. The acquisition is going to benefit our customers as they’ll be able to interface with a team with more resources. A team that also aims to innovate in this space and believes that Rails Boxcar will help them do that.

As a byproduct of this deal, our team has an opportunity to focus our collective energy on designing and developing web applications, which has also been a central part of what we do for as long as we’ve been in business. We plan to speed up our efforts on a handful web-based products that we’ve been internally developing and hope to release in the near future.

I had the pleasure of getting to talk thoroughly with the team at Blue Box Group and really feel like they’ll be able to focus their energy on maintaining and innovating within the Ruby on Rails hosting world.. definitely more than we could over the coming years. In the end, the acquisition is going to benefit our customers the most as they’ll be able to interface with a larger team that is innovating in this space.

If you’re interested in learning more about the acquisition, please read the press release.

From our perspective, this is a win-win-win situation for everyone involved. Expect to see some more news from us in the near future… and if you’re looking for a design and development team, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Launching Rails projects, an open call for lessons learned

Posted by Tue, 23 Jun 2009 17:33:00 GMT

I’m working on my presentation for Rails Underground and was hoping to solicit a few tips from other people in the industry.

Have you launched a Ruby on Rails application recently? Are there some things that you wish you had known beforehand?

Mind sharing? You can email me with your story at robby+launchstory@planetargon.com. I’ll let you know if your tip gets used in the presentation and please indicate if you’d be okay with me posting your tip in a future blog post.

Aliasing resources in Ruby on Rails

Posted by Tue, 23 Jun 2009 06:00:00 GMT

Earlier today, a friend working on a project asked me how we approached routes on our website. If you take a quick peak at our website, you’ll see that we have URLs like so:

When we launched our new site a few months ago, we were working off an existing code base. We have a model named, TeamMember and a corresponding controller. When we decided to come up with new conventions for our URL structure, we opted to ditch the normal Rails conventions and go our own route. What we weren’t sure about was how to alias resources in our routes nicely. After some digging around, we came across the :as option.

So, our route was:

  map.resources :team_members

Which provided us with:

  • /team_members
  • /team_members/robby-russell

We simply added :as => 'who-we-are' to our route:

  map.resources :team_members, :as => 'who-we-are'

...and we got exactly what we were looking for in our URLs.


* /who-we-are
* /who-we-are/gary-blessington

If you look at our site, you’ll notice that we did this in a few areas of our application so that we could define our own URL structure that was more friendly for visitors and search engines.

Anyhow, just a quick tip for those who want to change up their URLs with Ruby on Rails.

p.s., if you know where I can find this documented, let me know so that I can provide a URL in this post for others. :-)

82,520 minutes on Phusion Passenger

Posted by Fri, 10 Apr 2009 10:10:00 GMT

It’s been over 83,520 minutes since I made the switch from using mongrel as my development environment web server to Phusion Passenger. I’ve been extremely impressed with it. Our team has all switched over and haven’t really hit any obstacles in the transition.

Since some people asked me to let them know how this trial period worked out, I felt it was my duty to encourage you all to try it. You can check out my previous post, Switch to Passenger (mod_rails) in development on OSX in less than 7 minutes or your money back! to get rolling.

Additionally, if you’re looking for a streamlined Ruby on Rails deployment environment that includes Passenger, check out Rails Boxcar.

The Rails Hosting Survey 2009 Survey results are in!

Posted by Wed, 11 Mar 2009 18:27:00 GMT

We recently announced a survey that touched on topics related to the deployment and hosting of Ruby on Rails applications. We promised to share the results with the community and have made this information available at http://rails-hosting.com. You can download the results in CSV, PDF, and view them in HTML here.

Thanks again to everyone who helped us execute this survey!

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