My chef-solo setup for deploying ruby on rails to a fresh server
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Bootstrapping files for creating a Ruby on Rails server on an Tested on Ubuntu 12.04 server, with Ruby on Rails 3.2.7 and Ruby 1.9.3-p125


Blank Ubuntu 12.04 server machine with SSH access

Make sure on your machine which you are running the chef commands from that you have ruby, chef & knife-solo installed

gem install chef knife-solo

Prepare server

Create a new node

cd nodes
cp ../node-templates/webserver.json <Server IP>.json

Edit <Server IP>.json file and change username and password to anything you like and remove or add cookbooks if you want.

NOTE: Your ‘dbuser’ should be the same as your ‘linuxuser’.

Prepare the server, ie: bootstap & install chef.

knife prepare <user>@<Server IP>


Optional: install ssh-copy-id for passwordless ssh setup to your server

ssh-copy-id <user>@<Server IP>

Run chef-solo on server

knife cook <user>@<Server IP>

NOTE: Sometimes I’ve had to re-run the prepare again for the cook to work properly.

After system is built

This part maybe handled by using passenger_apache2.

Server side

Edit /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/rails_project, and follow the example

You may have to restart apache2 on the server

sudo service apache2 restart

Dev box

Restarting apache2 from your DEV box.

cap passenger:restart


Max pool size should be set to ‘2’ for VPS’s with 256MB RAM. Default is 6. This is set in the /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/rails_project.

Add your new server to your github.

ssh into your server and do

ssh-keygen -t rsa -C ""
cat .ssh/

Testing with

git clone

Copy the .ssh/ file into your github profile.


Capistrano Railscast

The next step after your machine is setup is to setup capistrano for deployment.

Use capistrano to deploy your app. <config deploy.rb>

cap deploy:setup
cap deploy:cold

ssh into server and do the following

cd /srv/<project>/shared
mkdir config

Assuming you have a database.yml.example file you could do

mkdir /srv/<project>/shared/config
cp /srv/<project>/current/config/database.yml.example /srv/<project>/shared/config/database.yml

Now edit your database.yml file so that it has only the production database details in it.

You can now create and seed the database

cap deploy:cold
cap deploy:seed
cap deploy:restart


Gems not updating on server

If you want to update a Gem make sure you explicitly state the version number in the Gemfile before deploying.

EG: gem ‘gmaps4rails’, ‘1.5.2’

gems are placed in the shared/bundle directory and will not show up with ‘gem list’ on the server.

Passenger: Unexpected end-of-file

If you are getting the following error

Passenger encountered the following error: The application spawner server exited unexpectedly: Unexpected end-of-file detected.

Upgrade passenger to 3.0.14

sudo gem update passenger

Mythtv server requirements

Setup your server using the mythbuntu 11.04 or higher distro.

During the install

  • Select to download codecs etc
  • Setup drives like so:
  • Select all services
  • Setup as a frontend & backend.
  • Select your remote control
mount pointtypesize
./ <user>@<host> mythtv.json


I typically put my video drives in /storage? (where ? is the number of the drive)

If you want to share a /storage? directory then look at /etc/samba/smb.conf

Installing Gems

You must have a ruby installed in the system otherwise chef will install your gem into the embedded area (opt/chef/embedded/bin)

gem_package = Installs into the system area chef_gem = Installs into embedded area for use in chef scripts.