4 October 2011

Configuring Ubuntu 10.04 for Ruby on Rails Development

While mentoring local high school students we needed to configure a number of systems for Rails development. Ubuntu seemed to be the most reasonable choice of OS. Below are the configuration steps we used broken into one-time setup, repeatable demo app creation, and next steps.


This system is intended to be used by American high school students with little or no programming experience and ZERO Linux system administration experience. A seasoned developer will find this setup too simplistic since many of the tools that a proficient Ruby developer relies on but which might confuse a novice Rubyist have been omitted.

Here are some pain points encountered when novice developers where initiated using a “typical” Linux-based development system:

  • Explaining the need for Bundler & RVM/rb-env drastically increased the learning curve.
  • Editors like emacs and vi were too esoteric for novice developers.
  • Choosing Heroku & PostgreSQL permitted us to simply “gloss over” the deployment process.

# Update Ubuntu package information and install the minimum require software.
sudo apt-get -y update
sudo apt-get -y upgrade
sudo apt-get -y install build-essential curl git-core openssh-server
sudo apt-get -y install sqlite3 libsqlite3-dev postgresql postgresql-server-dev-8.4

# These are needed by the Redcar editor:
sudo apt-get -y install openjdk-7-jre
wget -O xulrunner.deb https://launchpadlibrarian.net/70321329/xulrunner-1.9.2_1.9.2.17%2Bbuild3%2Bnobinonly-0ubuntu1_amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i xulrunner.deb

## These need to be installed before ruby.
sudo apt-get -y install libssl-dev libreadline6-dev libxml2-dev zlib1g zlib1g-dev libxss1

sudo apt-get -y install ruby1.9.1 ruby1.9.1-dev libyaml-dev
# Install Rubygems locally
mkdir ~/gems ~/src
cd ~/src
wget https://production.cf.rubygems.org/rubygems/rubygems-1.8.17.tgz
tar -xzvf rubygems-1.8.17.tgz
cd rubygems-1.8.17
ruby setup.rb --prefix=~/
ln -s ~/bin/gem1.9.1 ~/bin/gem

# Set environment variable in ~/.bashrc, add these lines at the bottom of the file:
export GEM_HOME=~/gems
export PATH=$HOME/bin:$GEM_HOME/bin:$PATH

# Then source the changed ~/.bashrc file:
. ~/.bashrc

# Install Rails
gem install rails

# Install Redcar
# ? gem install psych
gem install redcar

## Per: https://redcar.lighthouseapp.com/projects/25090/tickets/585-redcar-013-crashes-at-startup-on-ubuntu-1110
## Edit ~/gems/specifications/redcar-0.13.gemspec and replace this line:
##   s.date = %q{2012-01-21 00:00:00.000000000Z}
## With this:
##   s.date = %q{2012-01-21}

redcar install
# Create demo app using the Postgresql database and delaying the call to bundle install
rails new demo --database=postgresql --skip-bundle
cd demo                         # cd to the newly created Rails project root
# Add 'therubyracer' (a JavaScript runtime environment) to the Gemfile after: gem 'pg'
ruby -pi -e "puts %{gem 'therubyracer', :require => 'v8'} if $.==9" Gemfile
bundle install --path vendor    # run the `bundle install` that we delayed earlier
bundle exec rails server        # and start a local server

# open your browser and visit:
# or from another machine:

Next steps

… (yes, this is the start of a syllabus or at least an agenda for Wednesday)

  1. git
    1. edit config/database.yml
      • discuss trade-off between SQLite3 and PostgreSQL for local development
    2. create development and testing databases

      sudo su - postgres
      createuser -s web-apps -P # Enter any password you choose but be sure to remember it!
      createdb -O web-apps demo_development
      createdb -O web-apps demo_test
    3. restart server
  2. create models, migrations, controllers, etc.
  3. Testing!
    • mini::spec and mini::unit
    • RSpec and BDD v. TDD
  4. “Heroku”:https://heroku.com/
  5. “Capistrano”:https://capify.org/
  6. “NewRelic RPM”:https://rpm.newrelic.com/affiliates/AGILE210RFP/signup
Heads up! This article may make reference to the Gaslight team—that's still us! We go by Launch Scout now, this article was just written before we re-introduced ourselves. Find out more here.

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