Information and script for creating a full Mushroom Observer development environment using VirtualBox and Vagrant/Chef
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Welcome to the Mushroom Observer Developer Startup system!
The purpose of this system is to help software developers setup an environment where they can contribute to the Mushroom Observer code base. The basic idea is to setup a virtual machine (VM) on your personal ("host) machine that is configured to serve a test version of the Mushroom Observer website and to access the code. It has been tested on Macintoshes as well as PCs running either Windows or Ubuntu. This system does require a reasonably powerful computer probably purchased in the last 3 years.

If you're interested in contributing your code to MO, please also read Administrators/Managers should also have a look at

Creating working Mushroom Observer development environment


From a clean Mac to running the tests:

Install VirtualBox:

Install Vagrant:

Install git:

In a Terminal shell:

git clone
cd developer-startup
vagrant ssh
mo-dev /vagrant
source /home/vagrant/.rvm/scripts/rvm
cd /vagrant/mushroom-observer
rake db:schema:load
rake db:fixtures:load
rake lang:update
rake lang:export:el

That should be it. If something did not work, then see below for a more detailed walk through which addresses the issues that have been reported.

Install development tools on your local machine

Install VirtualBox: (Windows 10 Users: make sure that Hyper-V is not installed as a 'Windows Feature' on your machine as it breaks virtualbox)

Install Vagrant:

Install git: (some Mac users have found the GitHub GUI to be helpful,

If you are using Windows, it will be very helpful to select the option in the git installer to add the Unix tools to the Windows path. This will make accessing the virtual box via SSH much easier.

Clone the project

Get the developer-startup Git project:

git clone

Run the startup script (after insuring that bundler is intalled)

Go into the resulting directory:

cd developer-startup

What you do next depends on your local machine's operating system:

Linux and MacOSXL

If you have bash installed (true by default), run the startup script. Please note: It is also important to make sure that you have the bundler package installed. On some Linux distributions including Ubuntu you may have to typesudo apt-get install bundler in the terminal before running the script below.

`% ./startup`

Wait for a while...


Run the following command:

C:\developer-startup>vagrant up

Wait for a while...

Setup your Virtual Machine

Login to your new VM:

% vagrant ssh

On Windows machines this may require installing an ssh client like PuTTY. Attempting to run vagrant ssh will give you the parameters you need to give to PuTTY. Note: if you have Git installed with the Unix tools you will not need to install PuTTY.

You have been successful if the final output line is:


Setting up ssh access to GitHub (optional)

If you are using ssh to connect with github, you'll need a private key is ~/.ssh on the VM whose public key is registered with github. You can either generate a new key pair with:

$ ssh-keygen -f /home/vagrant/.ssh/id_rsa -N ''

and accepting all the defaults. You then need to add ~/.ssh/ to your SSH Keys in your github settings. You can also reuse an existing private key by copying it to the developer-startup directory on the host machine. Assuming the key is called id_rsa, on the VM run:

$ mkdir ~/.ssh
$ chmod 700 ~/.ssh
$ cp /vagrant/id_rsa ~/.ssh
$ chmod 600 ~/.ssh/id_rsa

Setup the new VM

$ mo-dev /vagrant

*Gotcha for Windows users. If you see this error:

/bin/bash: bad interpreter: No such file or directory

it means that the line endings of the file have been formatted for windows when you cloned the developer-startup repository. To fix this, use a program like Notepad++ to convert the mo-dev file to "Unix/Linux EOL (Line Endings)".

Note: You can give mo-dev any directory on the VM you want. The advantage of using /vagrant is that the MO source code will be available both on the VM and on the host machine in the same directory as the Vagrantfile. This is handy if you want to edit MO files on your host machine with your normal editor. However, it usually makes the tests run more slowly on the VM. Another common option is to just use:

$ mo-dev .

and use Linux editors such as vi or emacs. The rest of this document assumes that you used /vagrant when calling mo-dev.

*Another Gotcha for Windows users:

You may need to update the the "guest additions" on the VM in order for 'folder sharing' to work. If you are unable to see any files in the /vagrant directory on the VM, then run this command on your host.

> vagrant plugins update vbguest

Fix bundle-related error

If running 'mo-dev /vagrant' causes errors similar to:

/usr/lib/ruby/1.9.1/rubygems/dependency.rb:247:in `to_specs': Could not find bundler (>= 0) amongst [bundler-unload-1.0.2, executable-hooks-1.3.2, gem-wrappers-1.2.7, rubygems-bundler-1.4.4, rvm-] (Gem::LoadError)
from /usr/lib/ruby/1.9.1/rubygems/dependency.rb:256:in `to_spec'
from /usr/lib/ruby/1.9.1/rubygems.rb:1231:in `gem'
from /usr/local/bin/bundle:22:in `<main>'
rake aborted!
cannot load such file -- bundler/setup

Then fix things by the following procedure: On the VM:

vagrant@vagrant-ubuntu-trusty-64:~$ exit

Then on your local machine:

~/developer-startup $ vagrant halt
~/developer-startup $ vagrant up
~/developer-startup $ vagrant ssh

Then on the VM

vagrant@vagrant-ubuntu-trusty-64:~$ gem install bundle
vagrant@vagrant-ubuntu-trusty-64:~$ mo-dev /vagrant

Ensure RVM is installed on the VM

Look at the last line displayed by mo-dev /vagrant. If it is

RVM installed.  Run: source /home/vagrant/.rvm/scripts/rvm

then setup RVM (and get the correct Ruby version) by running

vagrant@vagrant-ubuntu-trusty-64:~$ source /home/vagrant/.rvm/scripts/rvm

Using MO on the VM

Assuming all of that was successful, you now have a running virtual machine with the MO source code installed, an instance of MySQL and all the goodies to successfully run all the tests and startup a local server (see below). You access the new machine by being in the developer-startup directory and running 'vagrant ssh' or through Putty. The new instance of MySQL can be accessed with usernames/passwords mo/mo or root/root.

To run the tests in the new environment

Go to the VM ('vagrant ssh' or through Putty)

$ cd /vagrant/mushroom-observer
$ rake

Note if the VM has been inactive for a while or you know additional changes have been added to the source code repository, you may want to re-run mo-dev using the directory containing the mushroom-observer directory. This will run standard things like 'git pull', 'bundle install', run any pending database migrations, and make sure your lang files are up to date.

Start web server

Go to VM (vagrant ssh or through PuTTY)

$ cd /vagrant/mushroom-observer

Start the Rails server on the VM

$ rails server -b

Go to http://localhost:3000 in a browser on the host machine. (Note: one developer reports that port-forwarding required use of port 5656 instead of 3000)

Create a user in the new instance of MO

Go to http://localhost:3000/account/signup and create a new user in your regular browser

Go to VM (vagrant ssh or through PuTTY):

$ grep verify /vagrant/mushroom-observer/log/development.log

Note: this information can also be found on the host machine by looking in develop-startup/mushroom-observer/log/development.log

Go to verification URL in your browser

Have fun! (Note the initial database, developer-startup/init.sql, just has the admin user and the language stuff. It probably makes sense to add some observations, names and images for testing, but I haven't gotten to it yet.)

Contributing to MO code development

To contribute to MO code development, please follow the suggestions in

Resetting your VM

If something goes wrong or you simply want to start over from scratch, on the host machine run:

% vagrant destroy
% rm -rf mushroom-observer
% ./startup

and continue as above after the original ./startup.

Rebuilding the Vagrant box from scratch

If for some reason the VM created using the ./startup does not work or it gets outdated for some reason. You can build a new VM from scratch using the ./build script. Most of the files in developer-startup are there solely to support this rebuild process.

Once the ./build script completes you should have a fresh clean VM that is equivalent to what you get after you run ./startup.

For those maintaining the Mushroom Observer VM, once you finish the ./build script, you can create a new version of the box with:

% vagrant package clean

This will create a file in the developer-startup directory. To allow others to use it, this should get uploaded to and the Vagrantfile should be updated to reference the new box and checked in.