Alternative to manual installation

Some users may prefer to skip manual installation by using the unofficial pre-integrated TurnKey Ruby on Rails Appliance based on Ubuntu LTS.

Intro Ubuntu 8.04

These instructions are for Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (hardy). Instead of using apt we use gems because of what ReinH put best...

<ReinH> Let gems manage your rails package otherwise gem and apt-get will start fighting like Spock and Captain Kirk in Amok Time. If you haven't seen that episode, trust me: you don't want that.

Intro Ubuntu 9.04 ... Apache2.2 tested only

Slight additions from 8.04 documentation...

Get Ruby

sudo apt-get install ruby-full build-essential

Note that ruby-full will install emacs and a slew of other non-essential packages. You can install all the necessary packages with this command:

sudo aptitude install ruby build-essential libopenssl-ruby ruby1.8-dev

Server Installation

Now you have ruby, you already got a server included, WEBrick. You may settle with that, also because the installation is much easier, and reboots are faster. But it lacks the configuration options that apache and lighttpd offer. So if you want to have RubyOnRails running on apache or lighttpd, make sure you have installed these first.


sudo apt-get install apache2 apache2-mpm-prefork apache2-prefork-dev

WARNING: libapache2-mod-passenger installation uninstalls libapache2-mod-php5 and php5. (This has been fixed in newer versions of libapache2-mod-passenger to enable PHP alongside mod-passenger)

Apache + Mongrel

Mongrel Cluster works as a proxy service under Apache (no additional modification is required).

sudo a2enmod proxy
sudo a2enmod proxy_http
sudo a2enmod rewrite
sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart
sudo apt-get install mongrel

Rails Wiki - Apache + Mongrel RubyForge Mongrel - Apache Best Practice Deployment


Preparing the house:

sudo apt-get install lighttpd libfcgi-ruby1.8

Installing RubyGems

The link below is to a specific version of RubyGems (version 1.1). You can get a later version from, but it should not be really necessary because we ask RubyGems to update itself at the end. But to make it more complete, a description of RubyGems 1.2 is also included, below the install instructions of RubyGems 1.2.

RubyGems via apt

sudo apt-get install rubygems

As of July 27, 2009, RubyGems 1.3.1 is installed via apt.

To make gem work properly you should write gem's path to PATH add to ~/.bashrc:

export PATH=/var/lib/gems/1.8/bin:$PATH

To export path once just enter previous code to bash.

RubyGems 1.1.0

tar -xzvf rubygems-1.1.0.tgz
cd rubygems-1.1.0
sudo ruby setup.rb
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/gem1.8 /usr/bin/gem
sudo gem update --system

RubyGems 1.2.0

tar -xzvf rubygems-1.2.0.tgz
cd rubygems-1.2.0
sudo ruby setup.rb
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/gem1.8 /usr/bin/gem
sudo gem update --system

The below error is sometimes encountered after running sudo gem update --system.

/usr/bin/gem:23: uninitialized constant Gem::GemRunner (NameError)

To fix that error follow the below instructions.

sudo gedit /usr/bin/gem

In the file find:
require 'rubygems'

Add the following line below the above line:
require 'rubygems/gem_runner'

RubyGems 1.3.1 Ubuntu 8.04

tar -xzvf rubygems-1.3.1.tgz
cd rubygems-1.3.1
sudo ruby setup.rb
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/gem1.8 /usr/bin/gem
sudo gem update --system

RubyGems 1.3.1 Ubuntu 9.04

sudo apt-get install rubygems1.8
sudo gem install rubygems-update
sudo update_rubygems     note: this will clean out your gems!

Installing rails

We can now use RubyGems to install rails:

sudo gem install rails

If you get an error that says "i18n requires RubyGems version >= 1.3.6", take a look at this solution.

if you want to try Rails 3 do

sudo gem install rails --pre

And you can control which version of Rails is used by inserting the full version number surrounded by underscores before the first parameter of the command:

rails _2.3.8_ --version
rails _3.0.0.rc_ --version

Also we can install rails from apt ( not suggested for Ubuntu 9.04 )

sudo apt-get install rails

I think, it would be better to install rails with gem.

If you encounter difficulties installing fcgi (fastcgi) via gem, this might help:

sudo aptitude install libfcgi-dev

Preparing for your first rails app

Configuration of the webserver also assumes you have by then a rails application set up. Simply enter to get that done (it will create you a first test page):

Default (sqlite3 backend):

rails /home/myuser/www/mynewapp

For a mysql back-end. Run this one, if you installed rails with gem:

rails /home/myuser/www/mynewapp -d mysql

Run this one, if you installed rails with apt:

rails /home/myuser/www/mynewapp -D mysql

You will see a bunch of stuff on the shell... that should be fine (unless you see a error message). That created the rails folder with all the stuff, so now you should have something like have: /home/myuser/www/mynewapp/public

Configure the server

Configure WEBrick (Ruby's server)

If you installed Rails as a gem, you need a javascript runtime.

sudo apt-get install nodejs

No further configuring is needed, everything is ready to create your first application. You can even try this step before you try launching your application via apache or lighttpd:

$cd /home/myuser/www/mynewapp
$ruby script/server
=> Booting WEBrick...
=> Rails 2.1.0 application started on
=> Ctrl-C to shutdown server; call with --help for options
[2008-07-28 04:39:17] INFO  WEBrick 1.3.1
[2008-07-28 04:39:17] INFO  ruby 1.8.6 (2007-09-24)
[2008-07-28 04:39:17] INFO  WEBrick::HTTPServer#start: pid=6860 port=3000

Your application is now responding at; press Ctrl+C to stop the web server. If you get errors related to the database, you might need to install a DB connector, or create a database. Edit this in $YOUR_RAILS_DIRECTORY/config/database.yml

Install the sqlite3 connector:

sudo apt-get install libsqlite3-dev
sudo gem install sqlite3-ruby

Or install the MySQL database and it's connector:

sudo apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client
sudo apt-get install libmysql-ruby libmysqlclient-dev
sudo gem install mysql

Or install the PostgreSQL database and it's connector:

sudo apt-get install postgresql postgresql-client
sudo apt-get install libpq-dev
sudo gem install pg

Configure Apache

Run the following to install passenger, an apache module that adds support for running rails apps within apache:

sudo gem install passenger
sudo apt-get install apache2-dev libapr1-dev libaprutil1-dev
sudo passenger-install-apache2-module

WARNING: libapache2-mod-passenger installation uninstalls libapache2-mod-php5 and php5.

Now you have to configure apache to point to the passenger module. Simply copy the following suggested code from the passenger-install-apache2-module installation to the end of your Apache configuration file, which can be accessed by typing in the command sudo gedit /etc/apache2/apache2.conf:

(if you are using RubyGems 1.1):

LoadModule passenger_module /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-1.0.3/ext/apache2/
RailsSpawnServer /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-1.0.3/bin/passenger-spawn-server
RailsRuby /usr/bin/ruby1.8

(if you are using RubyGems 1.2):

LoadModule passenger_module /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.0.3/ext/apache2/
PassengerRoot /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.0.3
PassengerRuby /usr/bin/ruby1.8

(if you are using RubyGems 1.3.1):

LoadModule passenger_module /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.0.6/ext/apache2/
PassengerRoot /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.0.6
PassengerRuby /usr/bin/ruby1.8

(if you are using RubyGems 1.3.6 and Ubuntu 9.10):

LoadModule passenger_module /usr/local/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.2.11/ext/apache2/
PassengerRoot /usr/local/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.2.11
PassengerRuby /usr/local/bin/ruby

Now you should point apache to the location of your Ruby app. Create something like this in /etc/apache2/sites-available/

<VirtualHost *>
    DocumentRoot /home/myuser/www/mynewapp/public
    RailsEnv development #It's optional string, but my rails app didn't work properly without it.

Alternatively, you could run rails in a specific sub uri of your current host, e.g. localhost. First, make a symbolic link to your rails public folder from with var/www (or wherever you have the root of your apache www folder), e.g.:

ln -s /home/myuser/www/mynewapp/public /var/www/mynewapp

In case of localhost (which is the default host with a fresh ubuntu/apache install) edit default in /etc/apache2/sites-available and add:

RailsBaseURI /mynewapp

murb: I had to add RailsEnv development as well to get around the 'no route found to match "/rails/info/properties" with {:method=>:get}' warning... (can someone elaborate on why?) apparently this is because /info/properties is buggy and no longer supported:

Save, and enable the rewrite module for apache, and register this site... and finally, restart apache.

sudo a2enmod rewrite
sudo a2ensite
sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

An Alternate Apache Configuration with a named vhost Ubuntu 9.04

If you need to run php-based or other web applications on the same server, and if you can get a DNS change to point another name at the same ip address as your server, this configuration should work for you. Note: for the Rails app you must put its public folder in the Document Root, and that means you'll need two or more vhosts on your server.

Lets say your old PHP apps are available at, and the Rails app, myrailsapp, will be at Edit your /etc/apache2/sites-available/default file and add this to the end of it:

 LoadModule passenger_module /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.2.5/ext/apache2/
<VirtualHost *:80>
        DocumentRoot /var/www/myrailsapp/public/
        PassengerRoot /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.2.5
        PassengerRuby /usr/bin/ruby1.8
        <Directory "/var/www/myrailsapp/public/">
                Options Indexes +ExecCGI FollowSymLinks 
                Order allow,deny
                Allow from all

  • The loadmodule passenger line is required and will be given to you by the passenger setup script. Use whatever path it provides.
  • You MUST change your local DNS to point to the same ip address as, see your administrator or your ISP.
  • The PassengerRoot and PassengerRuby are also required.

  • As usual with Apache there are many other ways to set up vhosts, see

The .htaccess file was needed by my application in the myapp/public directory ( note that it assumes a dispatch.cgi file):

Options +FollowSymLinks +ExecCGI

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ dispatch.cgi [QSA,L]
RewriteEngine On

RewriteRule ^$ index.html [QSA]
RewriteRule ^([^.]+)$ $1.html [QSA]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f

Configure Apache + Mongrel

You have to start Mongrel Cluster (under www-data ?).

sudo mongrel_rails start -d -p 8000 -e production -P /full/path/to/log/

And configure Apache's vhost:

<VirtualHost *:80>

        ProxyPass /
        ProxyPassReverse /
        ProxyPreserveHost on

  <Proxy *>
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all


RubyForge Mongrel - Apache Best Practice Deployment


Edit lighttpd.conf, e.g.:

sudo kate /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf

and here starts the tricky part, paste at the end of the file:

server.modules   += ( "mod_fastcgi", "mod_rewrite" )

$HTTP["host"] == "localhost" {
        server.document-root = "/home/santiago/proyectos/beholder/public/"

        server.dir-listing          = "disable"
        server.error-handler-404 = "/dispatch.fcgi"

        fastcgi.server      = ( ".fcgi" => ( "localhost" => (
                "min-procs"       => 1,
                "max-procs"       => 1,
                "socket" => "/tmp/ruby-beholder.socket",
                "bin-path" => "/home/santiago/proyectos/beholder/public/dispatch.fcgi",
                "bin-environment" => ( "RAILS_ENV" => "development" )
        ) ) )


now run

sudo /etc/init.d/lighttpd restart

and you're set, go to http://localhost and you should see the rails index... click on the link "About your rails environment" and if you don't see a 404 or 500 error... then you're set (you should see either a rails error, or a rails message or something like that).

Known Problems

just in case you get a message like this:

kmin@metakmin:~/ruby_test$ gem -v
kmin@metakmin:~/ruby_test$ rails -v
Rails 2.2.2
kmin@metakmin:~/ruby_test$ gem update --system
Updating RubyGems
Nothing to update
kmin@metakmin:~/ruby_test$ script/server
Rails requires RubyGems >= 1.3.1 (you have 1.2.0). Please `gem update
--system` and try again.

dont panic, just run:

sudo gem install rubygems-update
sudo update_rubygems

If you get a message like this when starting WEBrick on 9.10

/usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/rails-2.3.5/lib/initializer.rb:271:in `require_frameworks': no such file to load -- net/https (RuntimeError)

You may need to install these:

sudo apt-get install build-essential libopenssl-ruby
sudo apt-get install ruby rubygems ruby1.8-dev libsqlite3-dev 

* thanks to Tomasz Przybysz who mailed me with the problem and then with the solution

for any comments on the lighttpd install please feel free to mail me to

If you want to create a postgresql database for your new rails project, you'll first have to create a username. First login as postgres:

sudo su postgres

Then create the username:

createuser someusername

and finally you can create the database:

rake db:create

otherwise you'll get the error

FATAL:  role "someusername" does not exist

You might also need to edit /etc/postgresql/8.4/main/pg_hba.conf as described at


RubyOnRails (last edited 2013-06-25 12:22:10 by localhost)