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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. This system does require a reasonably powerful computer probably purchased in the last 3 years.

⚠️ The system has been tested with macOS, but we haven't yet suceeded in setting it up with Windows. Before trying a Windows install, please get in touch with us so that we can help work through the problems. (The notes below about Windows relate to older versions of the Developer System; they may be irrelevant to the current version.)

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 up
vagrant ssh
mo-dev /vagrant
cd /vagrant/mushroom-observer
rails lang:update
rails test
rails server -b

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
vagrant up

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
$ mv /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

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
$ rails test

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
$ rails db:schema:load
$ rails db:fixtures:load
$ rails lang:update

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 we haven't gotten to it yet.)

Next: Contribute 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
% vagrant up

and continue as above after the original vagrant up.

Rebuilding the Vagrant box from scratch

If for some reason the VM created using the ./startup does not work or it gets outdated and you wish to refresh it, you can build a new VM from scratch. First, you may want to update the base box in the Vagrantfile. Once you have the base box you want, run:

% vagrant up clean

Once the VM is setup, you should 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 placed in the web root directory under a distinct name. Finally, the Vagrantfile should be updated to reference the new box and checked in.

Other developers should now be able to get the upgraded box by simply updating their local developer-startup repo and running:

% vagrant destroy
% vagrant up

They may also want to get rid of any old boxes by running:

% vagrant box list
% vagrant box [boxname] remove


Information and script for creating a full Mushroom Observer development environment using VirtualBox and Vagrant




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