This is a step by step guide for deploying a Ruby on Rails 4 application to Ubuntu 12.04 using Nginx & Passenger.

Here we will deploy to Linux Virtual Servers in the Linode Cloud. The same steps can be followed to deploy to other VPS servers, like DigitalOcean, Dreamhost etc.

We will be using

Ubuntu 12.04



Ruby 2.1.0

Rails 4.0.2


Signup to Linode

First sign up for a Linode account if you do not have an account already. Then Add a Linode and Select your plan from one of the plans available

Select your plan

you will have to select Payment Term and Location and Add this Linode! and Complete Order

Select a Linux Distribution

There are a lot of operating systems to choose from, but we will go with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Rebuild distribution

Click Rebuild

Now you have your Linode, but it is initially in a Powered Off state. So Click on Boot to boot your linode.


Give it a few seconds to boot.

Connecting to your linode

Click on the Remote Access tab in your account and copy the IP address from the SSH Access field. This is the IP address of your linode. Remote access

We will connect to our linode via SSH.
Mac users can use Terminal or iTerm2

ssh root@IPADDRESS

If you get the below warning, type yes and press Enter

[~]$ ssh root@IPADDRESS
The authenticity of host 'IPADDRESS (IPADDRESS)' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is 1b:16:36:09:4b:95:5e:35:53:d2:c9:b1:65:cd:cc:51.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?

It will prompt to enter password, Enter the password you created for the root user (while setting up the Linux distribution) and press Enter

[~]$ ssh root@IPADDRESS
root@IPADDRESS's password:

You are now logged into your linode via SSH.

The first thing we will do on our new server is create a user account to run our applications

sudo adduser user_name
sudo adduser user_name sudo
su user_name

Setting up SSH keys to login without having to enter password everytime

If you never setup ssh keys before, google to find out how to setup ssh keys
Once you have the keys set up, we will copy the public key from your computer to server

The public key on your computer is located in file ~/.ssh/
We will copy this on to server file ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

Most likely you will not have the .ssh folder on server, so lets create that first and then we will create file authorized_keys and copy the public key there.

cd ~
mkdir .ssh
cd .ssh
touch authorized_keys
vi authorized_keys

copy the contents of file ~/.ssh/ to authorized_keys

Now logout of the server by typing


and log back in by typing

ssh user_name@IPADDRESS

it should log you into the server without asking for the password.

We have successfully

  1. Created a Linode account
  2. Installed a Linux distribution
  3. Ssh’ed into the server as root user
  4. Created a user account
  5. Set up authentication via keys

Now we are all set to install the software required to deploy our app.

Installing Ruby on Server

We will login as a regular user ‘user_name’ and not as the root user from here on.

### installing dependenies for ruby
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install git-core curl zlib1g-dev build-essential libssl-dev libreadline-dev libyaml-dev libsqlite3-dev sqlite3 libxml2-dev libxslt-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev python-software-properties

### installing rvm
sudo apt-get install libgdbm-dev libncurses5-dev automake libtool bison libffi-dev
curl -L | bash -s stable
source ~/.rvm/scripts/rvm
rvm install 2.1.0
rvm use 2.1.0 --default
ruby -v

### tell Rubygems to not install documentation
echo "gem: --no-ri --no-rdoc" > ~/.gemrc
gem install bundler

### install javascript runtime
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:chris-lea/node.js
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nodejs

Installing Nginx and Passenger on Server

# Install Phusion's PGP key to verify packages
gpg --keyserver --recv-keys 561F9B9CAC40B2F7
gpg --armor --export 561F9B9CAC40B2F7 | sudo apt-key add -

# Add HTTPS support to APT
sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https

# Add the passenger repository
sudo sh -c "echo 'deb precise main' >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/passenger.list"
sudo chown root: /etc/apt/sources.list.d/passenger.list
sudo chmod 600 /etc/apt/sources.list.d/passenger.list
sudo apt-get update

# Install nginx and passenger
sudo apt-get install nginx-full passenger

Now that Nginx and Passenger are installed, we can manage the Nginx webserver by using the service commands

sudo service nginx start
sudo service nginx stop
sudo service nginx restart

Next, we need to update the Nginx configuration to update passenger_root, passenger_ruby

To find passenger_root

user_name@linode:~$ passenger-config --root

To find passenger_ruby

user_name@linode:~$ passenger-config --ruby-command
passenger-config was invoked through the following Ruby interpreter:
  Command: /home/user_name/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.1.0/wrappers/ruby
  Version: ruby 2.1.0p0 (2013-12-25 revision 44422) [x86_64-linux]
  To use in Apache: PassengerRuby /home/user_name/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.1.0/wrappers/ruby
  To use in Nginx : passenger_ruby /home/user_name/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.1.0/wrappers/ruby
  To use with Standalone: /home/user_name/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.1.0/wrappers/ruby /usr/bin/passenger start

Open file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf and uncomment and set passenger_root, passenger_ruby

# Phusion Passenger
# Uncomment it if you installed ruby-passenger or ruby-passenger-enterprise

passenger_root /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/phusion_passenger/locations.ini;
passenger_ruby /home/user_name/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.1.0/wrappers/ruby

Update the file /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default to have the below content

server {
  listen 80 default_server;
  listen [::]:80 default_server ipv6only=on;

  passenger_enabled on;
  rails_env production;
  root /home/user_name/myapp/current/public;

  error_page 500 502 503 504  /50x.html;
  location = /50.x.html {
    root html;

Installing MySql on Server

sudo apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client libmysqlclient-dev

Create a new Ruby on Rails application on your local box/computer

Install the latest ruby version 2.1.0 via rvm

rvm install 2.1.0

Install the latest rails version 4.0.2

gem install rails

Create a new rails app with mysql database

rails new myapp -d=mysql

Lets create a controller and setup routes for root path

rails g controller Pages index

Update config/routes.rb

Myapp::Application.routes.draw do
  root to: 'pages#index'

Update Gemfile to add the gems needed for Capistrano

gem 'capistrano'
gem 'capistrano-bundler'
gem 'capistrano-rails'
gem 'capistrano-rvm'

Modify config/database.yml to look like below

  adapter: mysql2
  encoding: utf8
  database: myapp_development
  pool: 5
  username: root
  socket: /tmp/mysql.sock

  adapter: mysql2
  encoding: utf8
  database: myapp_test
  pool: 5
  username: root
  socket: /tmp/mysql.sock

  adapter: mysql2
  encoding: utf8
  database: myapp_production
  pool: 5
  username: root

Bundle and create files needed for Capistrano

bundle --binstubs
cap install STAGES=production

Modify Capfile to look as below

require 'capistrano/setup'
require 'capistrano/deploy'
require 'capistrano/rvm'
require 'capistrano/bundler'
require 'capistrano/rails'
set :rvm_type, :user
set :rvm_ruby_version, '2.1.0'
Dir.glob('lib/capistrano/tasks/*.cap').each { |r| import r }

Modify config/deploy.rb to look as below
update repo_url below with the correct github repo url

lock '3.1.0'

set :application, 'myapp'
set :repo_url, ''
set :deploy_to, '/home/user_name/myapp'
# set :linked_files, %w{config/database.yml}
set :linked_dirs, %w{bin log tmp/pids tmp/cache tmp/sockets vendor/bundle public/system}
namespace :deploy do

  desc 'Restart application'
  task :restart do
    on roles(:app), in: :sequence, wait: 5 do
      execute :touch, release_path.join('tmp/restart.txt')

  after :finishing, 'deploy:cleanup'

Modify config/deploy/production.rb to look as below

role :app, %w{user_name@IPADDRESS}
role :web, %w{user_name@IPADDRESS}
role :db,  %w{user_name@IPADDRESS}

set :stage, :production

server 'IPADDRESS', user: 'user_name', roles: %w{web app}, my_property: :my_value

Create database on server

mysql -uroot -p
Enter password: (enter password you entered when you installed mysql)
mysql> CREATE DATABASE myapp_production;

Deploying app on server

cap production deploy

Now we have completed everything to deploy our Rails app on a Linux Virtual Server.

Open browser and type your domain name or IPADDRESS. You should see the below page

Deploy home page

That is all we have to do to deploy a Ruby on Rails application to run on Ubuntu 12.04.