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rails_ubuntu (6) Versions 1.0.0

Provision Ubuntu for Rails and Node deployment using Capistrano.

cookbook 'rails_ubuntu', '~> 1.0.0'
cookbook 'rails_ubuntu', '~> 1.0.0', :supermarket
knife supermarket install rails_ubuntu
knife supermarket download rails_ubuntu
Quality 63%

rails_ubuntu Chef Cookbook

The definitive Chef cookbook to provision Ubuntu for Rails and Node deployment using Nginx, Passenger, and Capistrano.

This cookbook is modeled on the excellent Go Rails deployment guide. A big shout out to Chris Oliver!

Tested on Ubuntu 16.04, 18.04, and 20.04 with Postgres and MySQL.

Available from the Chef Supermarket or the latest version on Github.

Here are four steps to a running Ubuntu Rails or Node application.

  1. SSH Key Forwarding
  2. Add the Deploy User
  3. Provision the Server With Chef
  4. Deploy Your Application With Capistrano

Then you can run cap production deploy any time to effortlessly update your applications running on all of your test, staging, and production servers!

See below for more information.

1. SSH Key Forwarding

Both Chef and Capistrano depend on you forwarding your ssh key from your workstation to the target server.

Add your key to ssh-agent.

ssh-add -K # Add your id_rsa key to the keychain.
ssh-add -L # You should see your key.

Configure ssh-agent key forwarding.

vi ~/.ssh/config
Host *
ForwardAgent yes

2. Add the Deploy User

These instructions are for setting up the deploy user for a live server. See the section below for Vagrant setup.

2.1. Deploy User with Passwordless Sudo

Any user name will work, such as the default user name vagrant for a Vagrant box.

root $ adduser vagrant
root $ echo 'vagrant ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL' >/etc/sudoers.d/vagrant
root $ su vagrant
vagrant $ sudo su # No password prompt.
root $

2.2. Deploy User with Passwordless SSH

Set up passwordless ssh from your workstation user to the deploy user.

me@mymac $ brew install ssh-copy-id
me@mymac $ ssh-copy-id vagrant@bento20
vagrant@bento20's password:
Number of key(s) added:        1
me@mymac $ ssh vagrant@bento20
vagrant@bento20 $

3. Provision the Server With Chef

Here is an example of using a wrapper cookbook to configure and call the rails_ubuntu cookbook.

me@mymac $ cd cookbooks/my_wrapper
me@mymac $ chef-run vagrant@bento20 my_wrapper::myapp_recipe

If you see the message dpkg: error: dpkg status database is locked by another process, this is Ubuntu running the post-boot automatic package upgrade. Wait for a few minutes for this to complete and try running the cookbook again.

In order to make sense of what is happening and to see errors the recipes all log to ~deploy/chef.log. You can watch the provisioning process run on the target server in real time.

vagrant@bento20 ~ $ touch chef.log
vagrant@bento20 ~ $ tail -f chef.log

4. Deploy Your Application With Capistrano

Set up your workstation with the Capistrano gems.

gem install capistrano capistrano-rails capistrano-passenger capistrano-rbenv

Set up your application for deployment with Capistrano following this guide.

Run Capistrano for the first time to set up the standard deployment directory structure.

my@mymac myapp $ bundle exec cap production deploy

Once your initial deployment is working, you can run cap production deploy any time to keep all of your servers up to date with application changes.


Server Setup Recipes

  • server_rails - Complete Rails server includes all features.
  • server_node - Complete Node server without Ruby or Redis.
  • server_database - Database server: Postgres or MySQL.
  • server_postgres - Postgres server.
  • server_mysql - MySQL server.
  • server_proxysql - ProxySQL MySQL proxy server.
  • server_redis - Redis server.
  • server_ruby - Capistrano deploy workstation.
  • server_basic - Basic tools.

You can set the skip_recipes attribute to skip unnecessary features.

node.default['rails_ubuntu']['skip_recipes'] = 'ripgrep, redis'

Feature Recipes

apt_upgrade - Upgrade all packages

Always a good idea when provisioning a new server.

apt_install - Install basic packages

Attributes: apt_install, open_files

You can replace or extend the basic package list. See Attribute Defaults for the current list.

node.default['rails_ubuntu']['apt_install'] += ' sqlite3'

tune - Tune OS limits

Attributes: nofile, inotify

Update the number of open files allowed, which takes effect on the next server reboot. Set to zero to disable this.

node.default['rails_ubuntu']['nofile'] = 0

Update the number of files that can be watched for changes. Set to zero to disable this.

node.default['rails_ubuntu']['inotify'] = 0

bash_aliases - Add bash aliases to the root and deploy users

Attributes: bash_aliases, deploy_user, deploy_group

For those of us with muscle memory. You can set bash_aliases with your own bash shortcuts. See the setup_test recipe for an example.

You can replace or extend the .bash_aliases file content. See Attribute Defaults for the current list.

node.default['rails_ubuntu']['bash_aliases'] += <<EOT
export PS1='\\u@\\h \\w \\\$ '
alias peg='ps -ef | grep'
alias c='clear'

ripgrep - Install Ripgrep

Useful for figuring out how things are configured in the application code and in the bundled gems.

rg --hidden DATABASE_URL

ruby - Build Ruby with Rbenv

Attributes: ruby_version, ruby_libs, deploy_user, deploy_group

Install Rbenv and build your ruby version.

node.default['rails_ubuntu']['ruby_version'] = '2.7.1'

You can replace or extend the ruby library packages. See Attribute Defaults for the current list.

node.default['rails_ubuntu']['ruby_libs'] += ' libncurses5-dev'

node - Install Node and Yarn

Attributes: node_version

The current default node.js version is 12. This is the latest LTS version.

redis - Install Redis service

Attributes: redis_safe

Install Redis for Action Cable websocket support.

By default redis plays it safe and only listens to server local connections. You can open redis to outside connections.

node.default['rails_ubuntu']['redis_safe'] = false

nginx_passenger - Install Nginx and Passenger


  • deploy_user = 'vagrant'
  • deploy_group = '<deploy_user>'
  • deploy_home = '$HOME'
  • server_name = node['fqdn']
  • app_type = 'rails' # rails | node
  • app_env = 'production'
  • app_startup = 'app.js'
  • app_name = 'myapp'
  • nginx_site = app_name
  • deploy_to = '<deploy_home>/<app_name>'
  • app_root = '<deploy_to>/current'
  • app_public = '<app_root>/public'

This recipe will create the deploy_to directory if it does not exist. You can specify the deploy_to directory location or it will default to app_name in the deploy_user's $HOME directory.

A template from rails_ubuntu/templates is used to create the /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/<nginx_site> Nginx configuration file. After this is run you can examine the file and adjust it as necessary.

You can also substitute your own nginx template file from your wrapper cookbook. Copy the one that you would like to alter from rails_ubuntu/templates into the same location in your wrapper cookbook and edit it.

Be sure to invoke edit_resource after you have included the recipe that includes the nginx_passenger recipe so that the nginx template resource is there to edit.

node.default['rails_ubuntu']['app_name'] = 'activity-timer'
include_recipe 'rails_ubuntu::server_rails'

edit_resource!(:template, '/etc/nginx/sites-enabled/activity-timer') do
  source 'nginx_rails.erb'
  cookbook 'my_wrapper'

Your template has access to all of the attributes listed above.

database - Install Postgres or MySQL and create database

Attributes: db_type (postgres | mysql)

Set db_type to 'postgres' or 'mysql' to call the appropriate recipe. If db_type is not set, skip database setup.

postgres - Install Postgres and create database

Attributes: db_user, db_password, db_name, db_safe

Postgres setup can be called directly or via the database recipe.

Set db_user, db_password and db_name to create the empty production database owned by db_user.

By default the postgres server plays it safe and only listens to server local connections. You can open up to outside connections.

node.default['rails_ubuntu']['db_safe'] = false

You can gain access to the postgres Postgres database superuser role from the postgres unix user.

sudo su postgres -c psql

mysql - Install MySQL and create database

Attributes: db_user, db_password, db_name, db_safe

MySQL setup can be called directly or via the database recipe.

Set db_user, db_password and db_name to create the empty production database owned by db_user.

By default the mysql server plays it safe and only listens to server local connections. You can open up to outside connections.

node.default['rails_ubuntu']['db_safe'] = false

You can gain access to the root MySQL database superuser from the root unix user.

sudo su -c mysql

proxysql - Install ProxySQL MySQL proxy service

Attributes: proxysql_version, proxysql_ssl

Access the admin interface on port 6032 to set up the hosts and users.

mysql -u admin -padmin -h -P 6032 --prompt='Admin> '

Access the data interface on port 6033.

Set proxysql_ssl = true, to configure the data interface for ssl transport. This does not protect the socket itself from login or protocol attacks. Don't expose either socket to the open internet. Use a VPN or ssh tunnel between servers when traversing an untrusted network.

node.default['rails_ubuntu']['proxysql_ssl'] = true

setup_test - Wrapper example

An example of how to wrap and call the rails_ubuntu recipes from another cookbook.

It also sets up for Chef Cookbook Kitchen testing located at test/integration/setup_test/default.rb

Attribute Defaults

See rails_ubuntu/attributes/defaults.rb

deploy_user defaults to 'vagrant' but may be set to any user including root or a user other than the chef_run login user.

The ruby .rbenv installation directory and the deploy_to application directory will be owned by deploy_user.

deploy_home defaults to chef_run login $HOME and may be set to any directory. The ruby .rbenv installation directory will be located in deploy_home.

default['rails_ubuntu']['deploy_user']    = 'vagrant'
# default['rails_ubuntu']['deploy_group'] = '<deploy_user>'
# default['rails_ubuntu']['deploy_home']  = '$HOME'

default['rails_ubuntu']['ruby_version']   = '2.7.1'
default['rails_ubuntu']['node_version']   = '12'
default['rails_ubuntu']['proxysql_version'] = '2.0'

default['rails_ubuntu']['nofile']         = 65535 # 0 for no effect.
default['rails_ubuntu']['inotify']        = 524288 # 0 for no effect.

# Generate /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/<nginx_site> from template.
default['rails_ubuntu']['server_name']    = node['fqdn']
default['rails_ubuntu']['app_type']       = 'rails'   # rails | node
default['rails_ubuntu']['app_env']        = 'production'
default['rails_ubuntu']['app_startup']    = 'app.js'  # Node app boot file.
default['rails_ubuntu']['app_name']       = 'myapp'
# default['rails_ubuntu']['nginx_site']   = app_name
# default['rails_ubuntu']['deploy_to']    = '<deploy_home>/<app_name>'
# default['rails_ubuntu']['app_root']     = '<deploy_to>/current'
# default['rails_ubuntu']['app_public']   = '<app_root>/public'

# Local database server.
default['rails_ubuntu']['db_type']        = 'none' # none | postgres | mysql
# default['rails_ubuntu']['db_user']      =
# default['rails_ubuntu']['db_password']  =
# default['rails_ubuntu']['db_name']      =
default['rails_ubuntu']['db_safe']        = true      # true | false

default['rails_ubuntu']['proxysql_ssl']   = false     # false | true

default['rails_ubuntu']['redis_safe']     = true      # true | false

default['rails_ubuntu']['skip_recipes']   = ''        # 'redis bash_aliases'

default['rails_ubuntu']['bash_aliases']   = <<ALIASES
alias l='ls -l'
alias la='ls -la'
alias lc='ls -C'
alias lt='ls -lrt'

default['rails_ubuntu']['apt_install'] =
  "git-core build-essential software-properties-common \
   vim curl apt-transport-https ca-certificates dirmngr gnupg"

default['rails_ubuntu']['ruby_libs'] =
  "libcurl4-openssl-dev libffi-dev libreadline-dev libsqlite3-dev \
   libssl-dev libxml2-dev libxslt1-dev libyaml-dev sqlite3 zlib1g-dev"

Wrapper Cookbooks

Instead of modifying the rails_ubuntu cookbook, you can set up a wrapper cookbook with recipes for the different kinds of servers that you want to provision.

Navigate to your cookbooks directory and generate a new cookbook.

$ cd && mkdir cookbooks && cd cookbooks
$ chef generate cookbook my_wrapper
$ cd my_wrapper

Add a line to the end of Policyfile.rb to specify the location of the rails_ubuntu cookbook.

From the Chef Cookbook Supermarket.

cookbook 'rails_ubuntu', '~> 0.1', :supermarket

Or use the latest Github version.

cookbook 'rails_ubuntu', github: 'jgorman/rails_ubuntu'

Add a line to the end of metadata.rb to tell Chef to load the rails_ubuntu cookbook.

depends 'rails_ubuntu'

Then make a new recipe that configures your new server type.

$ cd recipes
$ vi myapp_recipe.rb
node.default['rails_ubuntu']['app_name']      = 'activity-timer'

node.default['rails_ubuntu']['db_type']       = 'postgres'
node.default['rails_ubuntu']['db_user']       = 'rails'
node.default['rails_ubuntu']['db_password']   = 'rails123'
node.default['rails_ubuntu']['db_name']       = 'activity_timer_prod'

include_recipe 'rails_ubuntu::server_rails'

You can include the rails_ubuntu::server_rails server recipe or only include the individual feature recipes that make sense for you.

You can copy recipes from rails_ubuntu into your cookbook so that you can customize them to better meet your needs.

Chef-run Setup

The easiest way to test your wrapper configuration is to use chef-run to provision throwaway Vagrant servers.

You can spin up a fresh new Vagrant box, provision it, and deploy your application within minutes. Once that works for your application you can deploy to a live Ubuntu server.

Download and install Chef Workstation

Configure your default cookbook locations.

$ vi ~/.chef/config.rb
cookbook_path ['/Users/me/cookbooks']

Configure the Chef debug log location. The stack-trace.log file will be created in the same directory when there is a ruby compile error.

$ vi ~/.chef-workstation/config.toml

For recipe debugging, puts 'Helpful debugging messages!' will show up in chef-run.log. You can tail -f chef-run.log to watch the deployment progress in real time.

Vagrant Setup

You can use the standard Chef Bento Vagrant boxes.

You will want to install Vagrant, Virtualbox and the Virtualbox Extension Pack.

Here is the Homebrew command for OS X.

brew cask install vagrant virtualbox virtualbox-extension-pack

You can also download the installers for your OS directly from Vagrant and Virtualbox.

Make a directory, copy one of the Vagrantfiles below into it, bring up the vm, and get the dhcp assigned ip address. You can assign a name to the ip address in /etc/hosts.

me@mymac $ mkdir bento20
me@mymac $ cd bento20
me@mymac $ vi Vagrantfile
me@mymac $ vagrant up
me@mymac $ vagrant ssh -c 'ip addr show' | grep 'inet '
        inet  netmask  broadcast
        inet  netmask  broadcast
        inet  netmask
me@mymac $ sudo vi /etc/hosts bento20
me@mymac $ ssh vagrant@bento20
vagrant@bento20 $

If you get a permission denied (publickey) error when logging in with a password, you may want to enable this.

me@mymac $ vagrant ssh
vagrant@bento20 $ sudo vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config
PasswordAuthentication yes
vagrant@bento20 $ sudo systemctl restart sshd

Here are some example Vagrantfile configurations.

Private Network will make your VM visible from within your workstation. If you have several VMs, for example a database server, a redis server and a Rails server, they will be able to communicate with each other.

Public Network will make your VM visible within the same network that your workstation is in, as if it was a separate workstation.

Ubuntu 20.04 Private Network Vagrantfile

Vagrant.configure('2') do |config|       = 'bento/ubuntu-20.04'
  config.vm.hostname  = 'bento20'
  config.vm.provider    :virtualbox do |v|
    v.cpus = 4

  # Private network issue.
  config.trigger.before [ :up, :reload, :provision ] do |trigger|
    trigger.ruby do |env,machine|
      `VBoxManage dhcpserver remove --netname HostInterfaceNetworking-vboxnet0 2>/dev/null`
  end :private_network, type: :dhcp

Ubuntu 20.04 Public Network Vagrantfile

Vagrant.configure('2') do |config|       = 'bento/ubuntu-20.04'
  config.vm.hostname  = 'public'
  config.vm.provider    :virtualbox do |v|
    v.cpus = 4
  end :public_network

You will be prompted for the network that your VM will appear on. You can avoid future prompts by specifying the exact bridge description string. :public_network, bridge: 'en0: Wi-Fi (AirPort)'


Make sure that your application runs from the command line and examine production.log to look for issues.

$ cd /home/vagrant/activity-timer/current
$ bundle exec bin/rails server -e production
$ vi log/production.log

Restart Nginx and navigate to your application to wake nginx/passenger up to test it.

systemctl restart nginx

Once it is woken up, you can examine the Passenger status.

# passenger-status
----------- Application groups -----------
/home/deploy/activity-timer/current (production):
  App root: /home/deploy/activity-timer/current
  Requests in queue: 0
  * PID: 11517   Sessions: 0       Processed: 2       Uptime: 4s
    CPU: 13%     Memory  : 35M     Last used: 4s ago

You can ask Passenger to restart the application after making changes.

# passenger-config restart-app /
Restarting /home/vagrant/activity-timer/current (production)

If passenger-status is not showing your application, look at the Nginx error and access logs.

# vi /var/log/nginx/error.log

When in doubt, restart nginx again which will completely reload and restart passenger since passenger is running inside of nginx as a loadable module. This the most reliable way to reset everything for a fresh start.

Dependent cookbooks

line >= 0.0.0

Contingent cookbooks

There are no cookbooks that are contingent upon this one.

rails_ubuntu CHANGELOG


Initial release.


README improvements.


README improvements.

v0.2.0 - 2020-05-07

  • README improvements.
  • Recipe and attribute improvements.
  • Add nginx node templates.
  • Add proxysql recipe.
  • Add server_* recipes.
  • Improved Kitchen testing.
  • Standardize on rubocop-rails_config formatting.

  • There is a Chef Workstation 0.18.3 bug on Ubuntu 20.04. $HOME is set to /root instead of /home/<deploy\_user>. This release notices the problem and resets $HOME to <deploy\_home> or /home/<deploy\_user>.

v0.2.1 - 2020-05-12

  • README improvements.
  • Better solution for the 20.04 $HOME = /root issue.
  • Bug fixes for the redis and proxysql recipes.
  • Add guards around already installed features.

v1.0.0 - 2020-06-13

  • Support Ubuntu 20.04.
  • Standardize on cookstyle formatting.

Collaborator Number Metric

1.0.0 failed this metric

Failure: Cookbook has 0 collaborators. A cookbook must have at least 2 collaborators to pass this metric.

Contributing File Metric

1.0.0 failed this metric

Failure: To pass this metric, your cookbook metadata must include a source url, the source url must be in the form of, and your repo must contain a file

Foodcritic Metric

1.0.0 passed this metric

No Binaries Metric

1.0.0 passed this metric

Publish Metric

1.0.0 passed this metric

Supported Platforms Metric

1.0.0 passed this metric

Testing File Metric

1.0.0 failed this metric

Failure: To pass this metric, your cookbook metadata must include a source url, the source url must be in the form of, and your repo must contain a file

Version Tag Metric

1.0.0 passed this metric