How To Setup a Rails 4 App With Apache and Passenger on CentOS 6

Published on December 6, 2013
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By Tonci Damjanic

How To Setup a Rails 4 App With Apache and Passenger on CentOS 6

Status: Deprecated

This article covers a version of CentOS that is no longer supported. If you are currently operating a server running CentOS 6, we highly recommend upgrading or migrating to a supported version of CentOS.

Reason: CentOS 6 reached end of life (EOL) on November 30th, 2020 and no longer receives security patches or updates. For this reason, this guide is no longer maintained.

See Instead: This guide might still be useful as a reference, but may not work on other CentOS releases. If available, we strongly recommend using a guide written for the version of CentOS you are using.

The Basics

When the user creates a droplet from a vanilla image (in our case: CentOS 6.4 x64), additional system administration work is needed before a Ruby on Rails application can be run and become available online. This tutorial provides the necessary steps to make that happen.

In order to go through this tutorial, a virtual server with at least 1 GB of RAM is a minimum requirement, because Passenger commands in step #3 are memory intensive.

Also, the tutorial assumes that the user has root access to the VPS (either as a user with root privileges or as the system root).

This tutorial is not intended for production node setup. It involves development library installation and ad hoc compilation on the machine, which is not a good practice when you’re setting up a production environment."

Step One – Apache Setup

It all starts with the web server and the simplest way to install Apache is to pull it from the yum repository:

yum install httpd 

After the installation is done, the system should be configured to automatically run Apache on system boot:

chkconfig httpd on 

Without this setting, the httpd service needs to be started manually each time the droplet is rebooted.

The next step is to configure Apache to expect incoming requests by editing its configuration file:

nano /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf 

In the editor, near the bottom, locate and uncomment the line containing: NameVirtualHost *:80

Save and exit the editor. Apache is ready to be started now:

service httpd start 

Voilà! Accessing droplet’s IP address in a web browser will show Apache’s welcome page.

Step Two – Ruby 2.0 and Rails 4.0 Setup

Setting up Apache was an easy stroll. It’s even simpler to setup Ruby, followed by Rails.

The quickest way is to use Ruby Version Manager (RVM) to maintain multiple Ruby environments on the machine. The latest stable version of RVM is downloaded and installed like this:

curl -L get.rvm.io | bash -s stable 

If RVM is supposed to be used by all users, there is a shell script available for the job:

source /etc/profile.d/rvm.sh 

Additionally, installing RVM’s requirements is necessary and this command will install various development packages and dependencies:

rvm requirements 

At this point, RVM is fully initialized and ready for use.

Currently, the latest Ruby version is 2.0.0 and the corresponding RVM command that installs it is:

rvm install 2.0.0 

It will download and install the Ruby environment. After the installation and even though it is the only version installed at this point, it should be configured as the default environment:

rvm use 2.0.0 --default 

Rails is distributed as a Ruby gem and adding it to the local system is extremely simple:

gem install rails 

A quick version check will yield output similar to this one:

[user@server ~]$ ruby -v 
ruby 2.0.0p353 (2013-11-22 revision 43784) [x86_64-linux] 
[user@server ~]$ rails -v 
Rails 4.0.1 

Nice job!

Step Three – Phusion Passenger Setup

Phusion Passenger (commonly shortened to Passenger or referred to as mod_passenger) is an application server and it is often used to power Ruby sites. Its code is distributed in form of a Ruby gem, which is then compiled on the target machine and installed into Apache as a module.

First, the gem needs to be installed on the system:

gem install passenger 

Before the Apache module is compiled, two dependency packages need to be installed as well:

yum install curl-devel httpd-devel 

The environment is now ready for the compilation. The process takes a few minutes and it’s started by the following command:


Note that this script will not install the module really. It will compile module’s binary and place it under gem’s path. The path will be printed on screen and it needs to be copy-pasted into Apache’s config file (/etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf) manually.

The output will be similar to this one:

LoadModule passenger_module /usr/local/rvm/gems/ruby-2.0.0-p353/gems/passenger-
PassengerRoot /usr/local/rvm/gems/ruby-2.0.0-p353/gems/passenger-4.0.26 
PassengerDefaultRuby /usr/local/rvm/wrappers/ruby-2.0.0-p353/ruby 

Placing those lines at the bottom of the file will do just fine. Save the change and restart Apache:

service httpd restart 

Two green OK messages mark completion of the environment setup. Congrats!

Finally – A Rails App Example

It’s always good to do a smoke test and using Rails’ app skeleton generator is an ideal tool for that task. It requires sqlite’s development package to be installed:

yum install sqlite-devel 

The simplest location to place the test application code is Apache’s web root folder:

cd /var/www/html 

In this folder, test application code is generated under the “helloapp” folder:

rails new helloapp 
cd helloapp 

Since CentOS doesn’t come with a JavaScript execution environment, one must be installed manually. It can be installed as a gem, hence it simply needs to be listed in Gemfile as follows:

gem 'therubyracer' 

Gems required by the Ruby application are installed by positioning in application’s root and running the bundle installer:

bundle install 

Also, the development database needs to be initialized by the migration tool:

rake db:migrate 

One final visit to Apache’s config file (/etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf) is needed. A virtual host section is missing and it must be added at the bottom:
RackEnv development

RackEnv development

<VirtualHost *:80> 
 ServerName www.yourhost.com 
 # !!! Be sure to point DocumentRoot to 'public'! 
 DocumentRoot /var/www/html/helloapp/public 
 <Directory /var/www/html/helloapp/public> 
 # This relaxes Apache security settings. 
 AllowOverride all 
 # MultiViews must be turned off. 
 Options -MultiViews 

Save the change and restart Apache once again:

service httpd restart 

Go to the virtual server’s IP address in your browser and you should see the “Welcome aboard – You’re riding Ruby on Rails!” welcome message.

<div class=“author”>Submitted by <a href=" http://www.linkedin.com/in/toncidamjanic">Tonci Damjanic</a></div>

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“This tutorial is not intended for production node setup. It involves development library installation and ad hoc compilation on the machine, which is not a good practice when you’re setting up a production environment.”

– What changes need to be made to make this a production quality deployment?

This tutorial is the closest thing I could find to getting my project up. I got the Ruby page up fine, but when I started working on the project Building Rails app with Wistia and Heroku for Newbies from Udemy, the app would not work. It works on Heroku and on my local server, but not with this CentOS set up. Is there a follow up tutorial to this one?

I’m having trouble getting Phusion Passenger to Run Ruby on Rails on a server. I’ve followed all instructions at Phusion web site and installed passenger and modified and created Apache VirtualHost to point to the new directory and verified that all .conf files are being loaded successfully. Also httpd -M passenger_module is loaded. I also successfully ran Passenger Standalone and Rails server webrick on localhost and was able to verify that it works with curl.

But when I try to run my domain from the browser, I just get a 404 not found or an empty index file that I create in that folder specified by the DocumentRoot under VirtualHost (so I know it’s loading .conf and going into the right directory) but it’s not loading Rails Application…Can someone please point out what I’m doing wrong? Here are my settings and config:

ruby -v: ruby 2.1.2p95

rails -v: Rails 4.2.3

passenger -v: Phusion Passenger version 5.0.15

httpd -v: Apache/2.2.27 (Unix)

opearting system: CentOS

uname -i: x86_64


Include "/usr/local/apache/conf/includes/mydomain.conf"
LoadModule passenger_module /usr/local/rvm/gems/ruby-2.1.2/gems/passenger-5.0.15/buildout/apache2/mod_passenger.so
<IfModule mod_passenger.c>
PassengerRoot /usr/local/rvm/gems/ruby-2.1.2/gems/passenger-5.0.15
PassengerDefaultRuby /usr/local/rvm/gems/ruby-2.1.2/wrappers/ruby


ServerName mydomain.com
DocumentRoot /home/clevert/public_html/rails_apps/mydomain.com/public
PassengerRuby /usr/local/rvm/gems/ruby-2.1.2/wrappers/ruby
<Directory /home/clevert/public_html/rails_apps/mydomain.com/public>
Allow from all
Options -MultiViews

passenger-config about ruby-command:

Command: /usr/local/rvm/gems/ruby-2.1.2/wrappers/ruby

passenger-config validate-install:

Checking whether this Passenger install is in PATH... ✓
Checking whether there are no other Passenger installations... ✓
Checking whether Apache is installed... ✓
Checking whether the Passenger module is correctly configured in Apache... ✓
Everything looks good. :-)

I had to put the configuration in a new file ending with .conf in /etc/apache2/conf-available/ . I used sudo a2enconf to enable the configuration. Then the rails app showed up

Well explained ,thanks alot … Just to point out in step 3 ,where you modify the /ete/httpd/conf/httpd.conf file ,if you have selinux enabled , you might want to consider running the command as below as you will hit a permission problems based on file context

restorecon -Rv /usr/local/rvm/gems/ruby-2.2.2/gems/passenger-5.0.11/buildout/apache2/mod_passenger.so

However my questions are, i have followed the instruction and everything works as expected.

  1. What is the possibility of duplictaing this installation in another box/centos server WITHOUT INTERNET ?

  2. Can i simply copy * FILEs into the new server ?

  3. Any advice on how i can get this working on a different box WITHOUT INTERNET will be apprecited

I already have a localrepo created !!!

Thanks in advance .

I did everything according to the instruction and everything went fine. But when I type in the browser all I see is the Apache test page. Please help?

something i would recommend is not update your httpd.conf file rather setup your passenger configuration as a separate file in your conf.d directory it still gets loaded properly, easier to manage when updating passenger or ruby, and not prone to braking changes when httpd gets updated.

The passenger-install-apache2-module step exits with the following message which doesn’t seem to be relevant because I’m not running this command via sudo:

Unable to autodetect the currently active RVM gem set name. This could happen if you ran this program using 'sudo' instead of 'rvmsudo'. When using RVM, you're always supposed to use 'rvmsudo' instead of 'sudo!'.

Please try rerunning this program using 'rvmsudo'. If that doesn't help, please contact this program's author for support.

Has anyone ever seen anything like this?

I already have 1GB of RAM and still ran out of memory…Is there any way to do it beside resize the droplet?

with ``` LoadModule passenger_module /usr/local/rvm/gems/ruby-2.1.2/gems/passenger-4.0.48/buildout/apache2/mod_passenger.so <IfModule mod_passenger.c> PassengerRoot /usr/local/rvm/gems/ruby-2.1.2/gems/passenger-4.0.48 PassengerDefaultRuby /usr/local/rvm/gems/ruby-2.1.2/wrappers/ruby </IfModule>

from passenger module installation, I still get

Syntax error on line 1014 of /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf: Invalid command ‘PassengerDefaultRuby’, perhaps misspelled or defined by a module not included in the server configuration

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