Installing Ruby Enterprise Edition on RHEL

RHEL5 is packaged with ruby 1.8.5 which is now outdated. To replace it with REE:

rpm -e `rpm -qa|grep ruby` # remove outdated ruby packages
sudo yum install wget -y
sudo yum install gcc-c++ make patch zlib-devel -y
sudo yum install openssl-devel readline-devel -y
cd /tmp
tar xzvf ruby-enterprise-1.8.7-2011.03.tar.gz
sudo ./ruby-enterprise-1.8.7-2011.03/installer --dont-install-useful-gems --auto=/opt/ruby-enterprise
cat > /etc/profile.d/ <<EOF
if ! echo ${PATH} | /bin/grep -q /opt/ruby-enterprise/bin ; then

. /etc/profile.d/

mysql gem installation on Windows x64

Having run into multiple issues setting up MySQL with Rails on Windows x64 my recommendations are:

  • Install the 32-bit version of MySQL, do not try to use the 64-bit version.
  • Install into a path with no spaces, do not accept a default like "C:\Program Files\MySQL\MySQL Server 5.5\"
  • Install the MySQL gem with an invocation similar to:
         gem install mysql -- --platform=ruby --with-mysql-dir="D:\Programs\MySQL\MySQL-Server-5.5" --with-libmysqllib="D:\Programs\MySQL\MySQL-Server-5.5\lib\"
  • Be sure to uninstall/reinstall whenever you install a new version of MySQL.
  • Make sure D:\Programs\MySQL\MySQL-Server-5.5\lib is included in your path, as well as D:\Programs\MySQL\MySQL-Server-5.5\bin. Make sure other copies of libmysql.dll are not being picked up from elsewhere on your path or your ruby installation directories.

Unfortunately with mysql-5.5.15-win32, mysql-2.8.1-x86-mingw32 and Windows 7 x64 even this was not enough: after experiencing a segmentation fault running rake db:create I gave up and downloaded the libMySql.ddl from InstantRails.

    One year with Rails

    One year since I picked up ‘Agile Web Development with Rails’ and coded my first Rails model/controller/view: seems so long ago now.

    Things I’ve mastered in the past year:

    • Test driven development using unit and functional tests.
    • Master-detail forms using Ajax to add and delete rows, fetching product details in JSON for codes entered into a line item.
    • Prototype and jQuery, including jQuery UI datepickers.
    • Loading and parsing XML data files using Nokogiri.
    • Building complex reports using nested views in PostgreSQL, maintained using rails_sql_views.
    • Creating formatted, multi-tab Excel spreadsheets using Spreadsheet gem.
    • Creating pixel-perfect PDF reports using JasperReports loaded using Java-Ruby bridge.
    • Hosting using Apache with Passenger, Mongrel, Thin and Unicorn.
    • Monitoring using ScoutApp.
    • Upgrading a production app from Rails 2.3.4 to Rails 3.0.9.
    • Switching from ERB to HAML.

    Installing Nokogiri on Ubuntu

    Worked for me with Nokogiri 1.4.4 on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS:

    # ruby developer packages
    sudo apt-get install ruby1.8-dev ruby1.8 ri1.8 rdoc1.8 irb1.8
    sudo apt-get install libreadline-ruby1.8 libruby1.8 libopenssl-ruby 
    # nokogiri requirements
    sudo apt-get install libxslt-dev libxml2-dev
    sudo gem install nokogiri

    Getting started with Ruby on Windows

    To get started my preference is to use RubyInstaller for Windows.  Both 1.8.x and 1.9.x variants are available. I group together my Ruby variants under \Programs\rubies.

    Having installed multiple variants you can register and manage them using Pik.  I recommend not changing the installation path from the default C:\pik.  It is in fact possible to install Ruby using Pik (by default Pik installs rubies in %HOMEPATH%\.pik\rubies), but I prefer not to do so.

    pik add d:\programs\rubies\ruby-1.8.7-p334\bin
    pik add d:\programs\rubies\ruby-1.9.2-p180\bin

    To access code repositories you will need to download and install msysGit for Windows.  I also strongly recommend TortoiseGit instead of Git GUI.

    To build native extension gems like Nokogiri you will need DevKit.  I tried

    pik package devkit install

    but this did not work for me (got HTTP 404) so I had to manually download and extract the DevKit.  DevKit also includes MSYS/MinGW.

    For an IDE I use Aptana Studio 3.  Studio looks for an existing Git installation or installs its own private copy of portable Git.  Studio then leverages the msysGit bash shell.

    RubyInstaller includes gem, which can then be used to install bundler to complete the setup of the environment.

    RJB on Ubuntu LTS 10.04

    Ruby-Java Bridge (RJB) allows use of Java libraries from within a c-ruby environment, see this slideshow.   RJB provides an alternative when a full port to JRuby is impractical.

    First install Java and build-essential

    apt-get update
    apt-get install openjdk-6-jdk
    apt-get install build-essential

    Now install rjb gem

    export JAVA_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/java-6-openjdk
    gem install rjb

    The bad news is that RJB currently crashes when used with Passenger so the best alternative is to revert to Mongrel.

    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.

    Using Ruby with Postgres on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS

    Installation of PostgreSQL on Ubuntu is straightforward, see

    To create a simple database with its own user use the command line:

    psql <<EOF
      create user ${appenv} createdb password '*****';
    createdb --username=postgres --owner ${appenv} ${appenv}

    To access the database from Rails use pg

    gem install pg

    Entries in database.yml should look like

      adapter: postgresql
      username: myappstst
      password: mypwd
      database: myapptst

    Ruby, Python & ODBC

    I recently tried extracting data from an Access database using Ruby and ODBC.  The first challenge is that Windows ODBC drivers can be either 32 or 64-bit.  On a 64-bit host only the 64-bit configuration panel is present in the control panel, and the 32-bit panel must be accessed directly by invoking C:WindowsSysWOW64odbcad32.exe.  More seriously, however, the ruby-odbc home page only lists Win32 binaries compiled using Microsoft Visual C, but the popular RubyInstaller for Windows distribution is compiled with MinGW making the two effectively incompatible.

    Contrast this with Python which has pyodbc downloads compatible with the canonical distribution from, even if trailing the latest release.  For enterprise applications there is even a commercial ODBC driver supported by egenix.

    Both Ruby and Python also have DBI interfaces, but Python DBI has been deprecated, and for Ruby the DBD-ODBC implementation relies on the same underlying ruby-odbc package.  For now it looks like I’ll be sticking with Python for ODBC.

    sqlunit & dbUnit

    Now that I have my database schema creation and maintenance automated with Incanto and dbMaintain I have been looking at testing tools for stored procedures. Perhaps the best known for Oracle PL/SQL are Feuerstein’s utPLSQL and subsequent Quest Code Tester for Oracle. Other options include plunit, PLUTO and ruby-pl-spec. My main requirement, however, has been to invoke tests from an Ant project continuously integrated using Hudson and for now I have started using sqlunit, which is both mature and portable across different databases, as well as allowing relatively simple testcases to be specified in entirely XML.

    My build-common.xml now contains


    In addition to sqlunit I’ve found
    dbUnit to be a useful tool for complex data setup prior to running a test.
    Initilization of the dbUnit ant task is done as follows:


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