Using Apache with Mongrel or Thin and Rails 3

When using mod_proxy to load balance between members of a mongrel or thin cluster it’s important not to pass requests through for static content.  A basic virtual site can be configured like this:

<VirtualHost *:80>

    DocumentRoot /opt/myapp/public

    <Proxy balancer://thinservers>

    ProxyPreserveHost On
    ProxyPass /images !
    ProxyPass /stylesheets !
    ProxyPass /javascripts !
    ProxyPass / balancer://thinservers/
    ProxyPassReverse / balancer://thinservers/

    <Proxy *>
     Order deny,allow
     Allow from all

    ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/error.log
    LogLevel warn
    CustomLog /var/log/apache2/access.log combined


Thin with Apache

Having run into compatibility issues between Passenger and RJB and between Mongrel and Rails 2.3.8 I’ve been looking at Thin.

Slicehost has a couple of good articles on setting up a Thin cluster with Apache on Ubuntu.

In summary:

gem install thin
thin install
/usr/sbin/update-rc.d -f thin defaults
thin –h # help
thin -C /etc/thin/${appenv}.yml -c ${apphome} -s 3 -e production config
su – ${appenv}bat ; thin -C /etc/thin/${appenv}.yml start

Rails Datepickers

There are multiple ways to add date-pickers to a Rails application. Searching for a date picker online I came across one Prototype based gem called calendar_date_select that was featured by Ruby Inside, and another one called Calendar-DatePicker-for-Rails.  On closer inspection, however, calendar_date_select was last updated in 2008 and is looking for a new maintainer: the demo still uses Rails 2.2.2: it does not work with some later versions.

Apart from using a date-picker specifically packaged for Rails it is not that difficult to use a free-standing Javascript solution: I found a nice looking solution called unobtrusive-date-picker but it appears to have limited support. There are also Javascript widget libraries like AUI and jQuery UI.  Finally I came across a Railscast that mentions calendar_date_select but goes on to recommends jQuery UI.  jQuery can be integrated with Rails 2.x using jRails or Rails 3 with jquery-rails and/or jquery-ujs or you can simply forgo the integration and just use jQuery directly. In my case I linked to the libraries hosted by Google like this:

 <%= javascript_include_tag "", "" %>
 <%= stylesheet_link_tag "" %>

The remaining details of using a jQuery UI datepicker with Rails are covered in the Railscast.

Installing Phusion Passenger on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS

Before installing Phusion Passenger you will need a working installation of Rails:

apt-get install ruby rubygems # distro packages rubygems 1.3.7
gem install rubygems-update
gem install rails -v=2.3.4 # or whatever

The Phusion installation script builds an Apache loadable module by linking various libraries. Make sure these libraries are installed before running the script.

apt-get install build-essential ruby1.8-dev libopenssl-ruby
apt-get install apache2 apache2-prefork-dev libapr1-dev libaprutil1-dev
apt-get install libcurl4-openssl-dev

gem install passenger
passenger-install-apache2-module # compilation dependencies satisfied above

The Passenger installation script displays a message to add some lines to your Apache configuration script. One way to do this with Apache2 on Ubuntu is:

cat > /etc/apache2/mods-available/passenger.load <
   LoadModule passenger_module /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.2.15/ext/apache2/
   PassengerRoot /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.2.15
   PassengerRuby /usr/bin/ruby1.8
a2enmod passenger
/etc/init.d/apache2 restart

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