RubyConf Files resurrected!

Posted by ezmobius Thu, 01 Dec 2005 18:15:00 GMT

I have rescued the rubyconf audio and video files from the depths of a hacked server and I post them here for future reference. Sorry for the interruption in service. This will hopefully be a little more permanent home for these files.

Click through for the list of links…


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Rails/Lighttpd Hosting Panel.

Posted by ezmobius Wed, 30 Nov 2005 16:31:00 GMT

I have started work on a pet project to build a lightweight hosting control panel for rails/lighttpd servers. I am interested to see if there is interest in a project like this.

I plan on making it so you can create rails projects and start and stop lighttpd and your fcgi processes. Basically a web based panel similar to Locomotive.

So my questions are… What other features would people like to see in a set up like this? I’m thinking of also letting you run your rake tasks and get them pretty printed to the interface and also allow switchtower commands.


Also this is a call to arms for anyone who would like to join this project to help out. Interface design or ruby/rails skills would be most welcome. Or leave a comment if you want to help test as well.

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The Perfect Lightweight Rails/Lighttpd/Debian install

Posted by ezmobius Sun, 13 Nov 2005 07:31:00 GMT

OK folks, I have finished my write up of an install of the perfect stack on a xen VPS. But keep in mind that you can use these instructions to install the rails stack on debian on a dedicated host or a box in your closet. It will work for wherever the box is. So without further ado, I present you with instructions for installing a stack of software as follows:

mysql-ruby bindings
fastcgi-dev kit
fastcgi-ruby bindings
perl-compat-regex(for lighttpd)
lighttpd 1.4.7 with fastcgi
subversion client and server
postfix email server with
Webmin Control Panel set up with a bunch of modules for ssh 
and postfix as well as webmail.
Whatever else is needed 
along the way as dependencies

Ed: I have reformatted the tutorial with the help of Sean Schertell. It's much better looking and easier to read now. I also want to make it clear that The Imagemagick and RMagick that get installed with my instructions are fully functional. I have tested it with .jpg, .gif, .png and .tiff files by resizing and converting between all those formats and it works perfectly.

If anyone has suggestions for things to add to the setup to make it even better, please leave suggestions in the comments and I will try to add it to the tutorial.

The Perfect Rails VPS

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Rails VPS servers at

Posted by ezmobius Fri, 11 Nov 2005 23:51:00 GMT

I have been setting up VPS servers at These guys have really nice prices on Xen based virtual private servers. This blog runs on one of them. I am putting together some documentation on setting up your own debian sarge based VPS for rails/lighttpd development and deployment.

There is a need for rails hosting like this as rails does not lend itself very well to run on shared hosting plans. Textdrive is a great example of this. They are a great host and I like them in general but their uptime lately is dreadful. I have clients with lifetime accounts that are upset that its impossible to run a production site on TextDrive.

The two servers that I am familiar with are Gilford and Nelson. Both of these seem to go offline multiple times a week. Argg! Can’t have that and keep clients happy.

So the best solution I have come up with is to use either VPS or dedicated servers for raisl work. Xen performance is truly a thing of beauty. It comes close to a dedicated solution. And I have a great system for setting up a minimal debian system with just the essentials:

ruby, gems, rails, mysql or postgresql, postfix, subversion, lighttpd, fcgi and all the goodies to tie all those packages together. With this set up you end up with a lean and mean rails machine!

I have found that with this setup the $29 plan at rimu will happily run an install of typo and about 2 -3 other decent sized rails apps and some other static html sites or what-have-you. And it will do so very fast. Lighty really shines in this environment since it is so light on resources. So I don’t even install apache and all its bloat so it doesn’t sit there eating RAM.

Mysql or postgresql are the most memory intensive parts of the whole equation. So hand tuning these db engines to run well on a memory restrictive VPS is a little bit of a challenge but well worth the rewards.

Stay tuned for a detailed write up of the complete setup process of a rimu VPS from scratch. I will be taking notes on an install this weekend and will post them here shortly.

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Rails RSS2.0 and Atom1.0 feed templates

Posted by ezmobius Tue, 08 Nov 2005 02:09:00 GMT

Here are some xml feed templates that work well for rails. These uses the great XML::Builder library that comes with rails. With these you use an .rxml file for your view instead of your normal .rhtml file.



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Apache Vhost to proxy thru to lighttpd on a higher port.

Posted by ezmobius Tue, 08 Nov 2005 02:06:00 GMT

Apache 1.3.x:

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ProxyPass /
    ProxyPassReverse /

Apache 2.x:
<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerAdmin                 webmaster@username.tld
        ProxyRequests           Off
        ProxyPreserveHost       On
        RewriteEngine           On
        RewriteRule             ^/(.*)$1 [P,L]
        ProxyPassReverse        /


Lighttpd.conf rails generator

Posted by ezmobius Sat, 05 Nov 2005 22:26:00 GMT

Here is a simple generator I wrote for generating lighttpd.conf filees for either fastcgi or scgi. It creates a lighttpd_fcgi.conf or lighttpd_scgi.conf in your config directory.

Untar the archive and put the lighttpd folder into ~/.rails/generators/lighttpd, and it will automatically be available as a generator for your rails projects.

If you are running fcgi then you use the generator like this:

$ script/generate lighttpd fcgi

If you already have Zed Shaw’s SCGI Rails Runner installed and you have already ran the scgi_ctrl command then you use the generator like this:

$ script/generate lighttpd scgi

When you generate a lighty config for scgi it reads in your config/scgi.yaml (that was generated when you ran scgi_ctrl) and creates the correct lighty config directives from that. It creates two files, lighttpd_scgi.conf and In the main lighty conf file it has an include directive to include the file. This way you can regenerate the file when your scgi configuration changes without the need to redo any changes to the main lighttpd_scgi.conf file.

Anyway, here is a linnk to the generator. If you have any questions or suggestions for more features let me know. I plan on adding scgi and fcgi clustering commands and also apache config files eventually as well.


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Installing ruby/rails/mysql/lighttpd/fcgi from source

Posted by ezmobius Sat, 05 Nov 2005 21:57:00 GMT

I have put together some crib notes about the install of the whole rails/lighttpd stack. These directions have worked on over 20 computers without a flaw. I have tested it on OS X, debian, fedora and FreeBSD and it works great.

Of course some people complain and say to use the package manager from your distro and this is usually the best practice. But I have found discepancies with how the various package managers break up the ruby install(debain) or have crappy package managers(OS X). When I install things this way I always get a know working stack of software tht is the same no matter what OS I am on at the moment.

These directions are especially good for OS X. That is where I have used these the most. So I hope these help some people. And if you have any questions just drop me a line( ez at brainspl dot at) or make a comment.

Installation Instructions

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From start to launch:

Posted by ezmobius Thu, 03 Nov 2005 11:55:00 GMT

My story:

Beginning in early 2005, we thought about how best to redesign the newspaper’s website. We needed to start completely from scratch in order to increase the usability and reduce the maintenance overhead with the newspaper’s website. This website brings together 4 separate data sources into one cohesive structure. With the old site there was way too much human interaction required to keep things up to date and it was costing the paper more money for staff than the revenue from the site. To accomplish this, I switched to developing full time with Ruby on Rails, referred to here as RoR) after four years of heavy PHP and a few years of Python development.

I hope this summary of the project provide sperspective on how someone coming from a PHP background rewrote 5,500 lines of PHP code with 1,800 lines of code in RoR. I was the only one coding on this project and I had one other person create some of the views.

What follows, tells the story of the developing a substantially sized RoR project at (The old PHP site is here:

More after the jump…


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Welcome to

Posted by ezmobius Thu, 03 Nov 2005 08:04:00 GMT

Well, here it is. I finally have a public blog. I have been meaning to do this for some time now, but I have been very busy ever since I started working professionally with ruby and rails. I will be posting all the little tips and tricks I pick up along the way on my journey through the wonders of ruby. I will also include any random coolness I run into.

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