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Sunshine is a framework for rack and rails application deployment.

This gem was made possible by the sponsoring of (

Setup and Usage

Installing sunshine:

$ gem install sunshine

Call sunshine to create the config file:

$ sunshine

Missing config file was created for you: /Users/jsmith/.sunshine

auto_dependencies: true
deploy_env: :development
exception_behavior: :revert
exclude_paths: []
interactive: true
level: info
max_deploy_versions: 5
remote_checkouts: false
timeout: 300
sigint_behavior: :revert
web_directory: /srv/http

You can either use sunshine by requiring the gem in your script, such as in a rakefile (which is more common):

$ rake sunshine:deploy env=qa

Or you can also call built-in sunshine commands:

$ sunshine run my_deploy.rb -e qa

Rake Deploy Tasks in 5 Minutes

Although Sunshine comes with it's own bundle of commands, they should be used to control deployed apps on remote servers in instances where deploy information (e.g. your deploy yaml file) is unavailable. Their purpose is to query a server where Sunshine apps have been deployed and have a nominal amount of information and control over them. Sunshine control commands are run on a per-server basis.

Most of the time, you'll want to control the deploy on a per-app basis. You have the deploy information and you need to do things involving that specific deploy. Rake tasks are great for that, and Sunshine comes with a template rake file that you can modify to fit your needs.

You can copy the template rake file to rake/ by running:

$ sunshine --rakefile rake/.

If you open the file, you'll see a variety of tasks that handle deployment, to application start/stop/restart-ing, to status checks. Most likely, the two tasks you'll need to update are the :app (for instantiation) and the :deploy tasks.

First off, if you're using rails, you'll probably want to update “task :app” to “task :app => :environment” in order to get all the rails environment goodness. You'll also want to make sure that the @app object gets instantiated with the proper hash value or yaml file.

Second, you need to update your :deploy task. Add whatever instructions you need to the @app.deploy block. Here's a sample of completed :app and :deploy tasks:

namespace :sunshine do

  desc "Instantiate Sunshine"
  task :app => :environment do
    Sunshine.setup 'sudo'          => 'app_user',
                   'web_directory' => '/var/www',
                   'deploy_env'    => Rails.environment

    @app = \
      :repo =>"svn://subversion/repo/tags/release001"),
      :remote_shells => ''

  desc "Deploy the app"
  task :deploy => :app do
    Sunshine.setup 'trace' => true

    @app.deploy do |app|

      rainbows = app, :port => 5001

      nginx = app, :point_to => rainbows




And that's it! Try running your Sunshine rake tasks!

rake sunshine:app             # Instantiate Sunshine
rake sunshine:deploy          # Deploy the app
rake sunshine:info            # Get deployed app info
rake sunshine:restart         # Run the remote restart script
rake sunshine:start           # Run the remote start script
rake sunshine:status          # Check if the deployed app is running
rake sunshine:stop            # Run the remote stop script

Understanding Deployment

The App Class

Writing a Sunshine script is easy. App objects are the core of Sunshine deployment. The Sunshine paradygm is to construct an app object, and run custom deploy code by passing a block to its deploy method:

options = {
  :name => 'myapp',
  :repo => {:type => :svn, :url => 'svn://blah...'},
  :root_path => '/usr/local/myapp'

options[:remote_shells] =
  case Sunshine.deploy_env
  when 'qa'
    ['', '']

Sunshine::App.deploy(options) do |app|

  app_server =
  app_server.setup, :point_to => app_server).setup


An App holds information about where to deploy an application to and how to deploy it, as well as many convenience methods to setup and manipulate the deployment process. Most of these methods support passing remote shell find options:

app.rake 'db:migrate', :role => :db
app.deploy :host => ''

See Sunshine::App#find for more information.

Working With Environments

Environment specific setups can be accomplished in a few ways. The most obvious way is to create a different script for each environment. You can also define the App's constructor hash on a per-environment basis (as seen above), which gives you lots of control. That said, the App class also provides a mechanism for environment handling using configuration files. The App::new methods support passing a path to a yaml config file:

app ="path/to/config.yml")
app.deploy{|app| }

The yaml file can also be any IO stream who's output will parse to yaml. This can be ueful for passing the file's DATA and keep all the deploy information in one place:

# The following two lines are equivalent:
app =
app = Sunshine::DATA

app.deploy{|app| }


Yaml files are read on a deploy-environment basis so its format reflects this:

# Default is always inherited by all environments
:default :
  :name : app_name
  :repo :
    :type : svn
    :url :  svn://subversion/app_name/branches/continuous_integration

  :root_path : /usr/local/app_name

  :remote_shells :
    - - localhost
      - :roles : web db app

# Setup for qa environment
:qa :
  :repo :
    :type : svn
    :url :  svn://subversion/app_name/tags/release_0001
  :remote_shells :

# Prod inherits top level values from :qa
:prod :
  :inherits : :qa
  :remote_shells :

In this example, :prod inherits top level values from :qa (only :repo in this instance). The :inherits key also supports an array as its value. All environments also inherit from the :default environment. The :default is also used if the app's deploy_env is not found in the config.

Finally, yaml configs get parsed by erb, exposing any options passed to the App's constuctor, along with the deploy environment, letting your write configs such as:

# deploy.rb

app = "deploy.yml", :name => "my_app", :deploy_name => "release_001"

# deploy.yml
:default :
  :repo :
    :type : svn
    :url :  svn://subversion/<%= name %>/tags/<%= deploy_name %>

  :remote_shells :
    - <%= deploy_env %>1.<%= name %>
    - <%= deploy_env %>2.<%= name %>

See Sunshine::App for more information.



Sunshine lets you install and setup server applications to run your app on. The typical approach to serving ruby applications is to run Nginx or Apache as a load balancer in front of a backend such as Thin, or Mongrels. Using Sunshine, this is most commonly defined as a part of the deploy process:

app.deploy do |app|
  backend = app, :port => 5000
  nginx   = app, :point_to => backend


When a new Server is instantiated and its setup method is run, it is added to the app's control scripts. This means that when the deploy is complete, those servers can be controlled by the app's start/stop/restart/status methods.

Load Balancing

Since frontend servers support load balancing, you can also point them to server clusters:

backend = Sunshine::Thin.new_cluster 10, app, :port => 5000
nginx   = app, :point_to => backend


In this instance, Nginx will know to forward requests to the cluster of Thin servers created. You could do this more explicitely with the following:

backend =

5000.upto(5009) do |port|
  thin = app, :port => port, :name => "thin.#{port}"

  backend << thin
end app, :point_to => backend

Phusion Passenger

If you are running a lower traffic application, Phusion Passenger is available for both Nginx and Apache. Passenger will be used by default if no backend is specified. You could have an Nginx Passenger setup on port 80 with a single line:


Servers let you do much more configuration with log files, config files, etc. For more information, see Sunshine::Server.


Sunshine has simple, basic dependency support, and relies mostly on preexisting package manager tools such as apt, yum, or rubygems. Dependencies or packages can be defined independently, or as a part of a dependency tree (see Sunshine::DependencyLib). Sunshine has its own internal dependency tree which can be modified but users can also create their own.

User Dependencies

The most common way of using dependencies is through ServerApp:

server_app.apt_install 'postgresql', 'libxslt'
server_app.gem_install 'json', :version => '>=1.0.0'

This should be plenty for most users. You can however create simple standalone package definitions:

postgresql ='postgresql')
postgresql.install! :call =>

You can imagine how this would be useful to do server configuration with Sunshine:

server = ""

%w{postgresql libxslt ruby-full rubygems}.each do |dep_name|! :call => server

Warning: If the :call options isn't specified, the dependency will attempt to install on the local system.

See Sunshine::Dependency for more information.

Internal Sunshine Dependencies (advanced)

Sunshine's default dependencies are defined in Sunshine.dependencies and can be overridden as needed:

Sunshine.dependencies.get 'rubygems', :type => Sunshine::Yum
#=> <Sunshine::Yum ... version='1.3.5' >
# Not what you want? Replace it:

Sunshine.dependencies.yum 'rubygems', :version => '1.3.2'

Any dependencies added or modified in Sunshine.dependencies are used as a part of the internal Sunshine workings. Also to note: ServerApp#pkg_manager is crucial in defining which dependency to use. By default, a server_app's package manager will be either Yum or Apt depending on availability. That can be overridden with something like:

server_app.pkg_manager = Sunshine::Yum

An array can also be given and the server_app will attempt to install available dependencies according to that type order:

server_app.pkg_manager = [Sunshine::Tpkg, Sunshine::Yum]

In this instance, if no Tpkg dependency was defined in Sunshine.dependencies, the server_app will look for a Yum dependency. If you want to ensure all your server_apps use the same dependency definition, you may consider:

Sunshine.dependencies.yum 'rubygems', :version => '1.3.2'
Sunshine.dependencies.apt 'rubygems', :version => '1.3.2'
# ... and so on

Note: You can disable automatic dependency installation by setting Sunshine's auto_dependencies config to false.

Using Permissions

In order to deploy applications successfully, it's important to know how, where, and when to use permissions in Sunshine deploy scripts.

The Shell Class

The primary handler of permissions is the Sunshine::Shell class. Since all commands are run through a Shell object, it naturally handles permission changes. The following will create a new remote shell which is logged into as user “bob” but will use root to perform all calls:

# The following two lines are equivalent:
svr = "", :sudo => true
svr = "", :user => "bob" :sudo => true

Sudo can also be set after instantiation. Let's change the permissions back to its default:

svr.sudo = nil

You can of course also run single commands with a one-off sudo setting: "whoami", :sudo => true
#=> "root"

Shell sudo values are important! Depending on what the value of shell.sudo is, behavior will change dramatically:

  • sudo = true -> sudo -H command

  • sudo = 'root' -> sudo -H -u root command

  • sudo = 'usr' -> sudo -H -u usr command

  • sudo = false -> enforce never using sudo

  • sudo = nil -> passthrough (don't care)

Here are a few examples of these values being used:

svr = "", :sudo => true "whoami"                   #=> root "whoami", :sudo => "usr"   #=> usr "whoami", :sudo => nil     #=> root "whoami", :sudo => false   #=> bob

These values are crucial as other Sunshine classes have and pass around other sudo requirements/values to shell objects.

Who Affects Sudo

There are 3 main places to beware of how sudo gets used.


The first, most obvious place is the App class:

app.sudo = "bob" #=> "bob"

app.sudo = true #=> true

Since the App class effectively owns the shells it uses, setting sudo on the App will permanently change the sudo value of its shells.

Note: You may notice that you can set a sudo config value on the Sunshine module. This is used for the default value of Sunshine::App#sudo and is passed along to an app's shells on instantiation.


Because of how unix works with servers and ports, it's not uncommon to have to run start/stop/restart server commands with upgraded permissions. This is true for Apache and Nginx on ports below 1024. Due to this, servers automatically try to adjust their permissions to run their commands correctly. Since servers should run their commands consistantly, the only way to affect their sudo value is on a server instance basis:

server = app, :sudo => nil  # let the shell handle sudo

However, the above will most likely cause Nginx's start command to fail if shell permissions don't allow running root processes.

Note: Servers will ONLY touch permissions if their port is smaller than 1024.


Since Sunshine also deals with installing dependencies, the Dependency class and its children all have a class level sudo setting which is set to true by default. This means that any dependency will by default run its commands using sudo:

dep = "libdvdread"
dep.install! :call => shell

#=> sudo -H apt-get install libdvdread

This can be changed on the class level:

shell.sudo = "usr"

Sunshine::Apt.sudo = nil  # let the shell handle sudo
dep.install! :call => shell

#=> sudo -H -u usr apt-get install libdvdread

It can also be set on an individual basis:

dep.install! :call => shell, :sudo => nil

Sunshine Configuration

Aside from passing the sunshine command options, Sunshine can be configured both in the deploy script by calling Sunshine.setup and globally in the ~/.sunshine file. The following is a list of supported config keys:

'auto_dependencies' -> Check and install missing deploy dependencies; defaults to true.

'deploy_env' -> The default deploy environment to use; defaults to :development.

'exception_behavior' -> The behavior called when an exception is raised during a deploy; defaults to :revert.

'exclude_paths' -> Paths to exclude in the checkout when deploying code with via rsync; defaults to empty Array.

'interactive' -> Automate calls; fail instead of prompting the user; defaults to false.

'level' -> Logger's debug level; defaults to 'info'.

'max_deploy_versions' -> The maximum number of deploys to keep on a server; defaults to 5.

'remote_checkouts' -> Use remote servers to checkout the codebase; defaults to false.

'require' -> Require external ruby libs or gems; defaults to nil.

'timeout' -> The amount of time in seconds for shells to wait with no incoming data before timing out; defaults to 300.

'sigint_behavior' -> The behavior called when a SIGINT is received during a deploy; defaults to :revert.

'trace' -> Show detailed output messages; defaults to false.

'web_directory' -> Path to where apps should be deployed to; defaults to '/srv/http'.

Deployed Application Control

Sunshine has a variety of commands that allow simple control of remote or locally deployed applications. These include start, stop, restart actions to be taken application-wide, as well as querying for the state of the app:


sunshine run deploy_script.rb
sunshine restart myapp -r,
sunshine list myapp myotherapp --status -r

The Sunshine commands are as follows:

add       Register an app with sunshine
list      Display deployed apps
restart   Restart a deployed app
rm        Unregister an app with sunshine
run       Run a Sunshine ruby file
script    Run an app script
start     Start a deployed app
stop      Stop a deployed app

For more help on sunshine commands, use 'sunshine COMMAND –help'. For more information about control scripts, see the Sunshine::App#build_control_scripts method.

Remote Scripts and Permissions:


Applications are deployed on a per-user basis. When calling commands that require superuser permissions (e.g. calling restart on an app that runs on Apache, port 80), make sure that the user used to log in has sudo permissions.


I've deployed an application logged in as 'superuser' but for a 'peon' user with a lower permission level using something like:

Sunshine.setup 'sudo' => 'peon'
@app = :remote_shells => ''

Using any of the following will fail to return since 'peon' has no sudo priviledges:

$ sunshine restart app -r
$ sunshine restart app -r -S

Yet, if you only log in as 'superuser' the app will not be found as it will be looking for apps deployed and run for 'superuser', hence this is wrong too:

$ sunshine restart app -r

To run the script correctly, use the same setup used for your deploy, in this case:

$ sunshine restart app -r -S peon

This is true for the following commands:

$ sunshine list --status
$ sunshine restart
$ sunshine script
$ sunshine start
$ sunshine stop


(The MIT License)

Copyright © 2010 At&t Interactive

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the 'Software'), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.



Sunshine is a framework for rack and rails application deployment.



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