Rails on Uberspace

Last week I migrated a few projects to Uberspace. Some of them are rails projects and I had to find a good way to run them on Uberspace. There is an entry in the Uberspace Wiki for using Rails, but that one is using FastCGI, so I had to find a way to install passenger on my own. This is how I did it.

Installing passenger

First you have to change the ruby version and add the --user-install flag to your rubygems settings. For details on this please see the Uberspace Wiki. And don’t forget to read the bundler paragraph as well :wink: .

After that I had to install passenger:

gem install passenger

This will install passenger and builds a nginx with the passenger module included. When asked for a location for nginx, answer that with /home/USERNAME/nginx.

Now nginx and passenger are installed. Next stop is configuring nginx to run on the uberspace. Open the ~/nginx/conf/nginx.conf and add this at the top:

daemon off;

This disables the daemon mode. We will run nginx with Daemontools and don’t need the ngnix deamon system.

And now in the server block you have to change a few things to make it look like this:

listen       MYPORT;

location / {
    root   /home/MYUBERSPACE/MYRAILSPROJECT/current/public;
    passenger_enabled on;

Replace MYPORT with an unused port on that machine. Since you are sharing the ports with all users on the uberspace machine, you have to check for a port that is not already in use by another user. The root location must be the public folder inside of the rails project.

Configure memcache

Next stop is memcache. Since the machine is used by a lot of other users, you should try to remove load from the cpu. Using caching will fix this. Because you are also sharing the ports, you can’t just start a memcache on an unused port. If you would do this and cache user data in the memcache, everyone would have access to those. You don’t want that to happen. The solution to this is running memcache in unix sockets mode. The unix socket should be in your home directory, that way only you can access the memcache. Sadly the 2.0 branch of dalli (the memcache gem) does not support unix sockets anymore, you have to use an old version of it.

Change the memcache gem line in your Gemfile to this:

gem 'dalli', '~> 1.1.5'

And now configure your cache_store in config/environments/production.rb to use the unix socket of your memcache.

config.cache_store = :dalli_store, '/home/MYUBERSPACE/memcached.sock'

Starting the services

Now everything should be configured correctly. It is time to start the nginx and memcache. To do this we will use daemontools. The daemontools will start the processes and monitors them. If the uberspace needs to reboot, it will also restart them.

First install the daemontools with this command:


Now you can add nginx to the daemontools like this:

uberspace-setup-service nginx ~/bin/nginx

And memcache like this:

uberspace-setup-service memcache /usr/bin/memcached -s $HOME/memcached.sock

With that daemontools installs and starts the services. Please look into the wiki for details.

Redirect the apache requests

Add this to the .htaccess file in $HOME/html

RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://localhost:MYPORT/$1 [P]

This will tell apache to proxy all requests on that domain to the nginx that is accepting connections on MYPORT.

But always remember: you are sharing that host with other people. Don’t configure passenger with 40 workers…memory on that machine is a scarce resource

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Bodo Tasche
Polyglot Developer

I am a freelance polyglot developer and love HTML5, testing, JavaScript, Ruby and Elixir. In the last 20 years I have been in lots of different roles, from Java to Elixir, from backend developer at a 3 people team in an early phase startup to the CTO of a web agency. Some of my work can be seen on my projects page.

Need help developing your MVP or to add new features into your current app? Need a CTO or a front/backend developer for hire? Send me an email.