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Running Passenger on Joyent

I’ve never been particularly happy with proxying Mongrel processes behind Apache – for one if makes it really hard to scale without using something like God (which adds yet ANOTHER process your website is dependent on) and having separate services means multiple points of failure.

PHP has had mod_php which makes PHP a first class citizen in Apache land, and with the release of Passenger (aka mod_rails) a couple of months ago Rails can now get the same privileges. As most of my production Rails apps (both for me and my clients) run on Joyent, here is a quick recipe for setting up passenger on the newer pkg-src accelerators. You need to be root to do a lot of this, so it might be easiest to


before you start.

  1. Getting passenger. DON’T use the gem, as it won’t work on Solaris – you need to pull it from git (I think it makes sense to put it in /usr/local):
    cd /usr/local
    git clone git://github.com/FooBarWidget/passenger.git
  2. Run the apache module installer:
    cd passenger/
  3. Create a configuration file for apache:
    cd /opt/local/etc/httpd
    echo "LoadModule passenger_module /usr/local/passenger/ext/apache2/mod_passenger.so
    PassengerRoot /usr/local/passenger
    PassengerRuby /opt/local/bin/ruby18" > includes/passenger.conf
  4. Add the following line to /opt/local/etc/httpd/httpd.conf:
    Include etc/httpd/includes/passenger.conf
  5. Make Apache a little less strict on what it can run. Open /opt/local/etc/httpd/includes/directory.conf and change the Directory directive to (Apache security geeks will probably lynch me at this point – please suggest a more secure setup):
    Options +FollowSymLinks -SymLinksIfOwnerMatch +MultiViews -Indexes -ExecCGI
    AllowOverride ALL
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
  6. Restart Apache:
    svcadm restart /network/http:apache

At this point Apache will be mod_rails enabled. Now to update your application. There is two ways to do this: manually or via the Joyent capistrano receipe. I’ll outline the latter, and you should be able to work out the former for these instructions (Hint: the virtual host descriptions are in /opt/local/etc/httpd/virtualhosts/). Edit config/accelerator/apache_vhosts.erb and find the VirtualHost directive and make it look something like this:

<VirtualHost <%= public_ip %>:80>

  ServerName <%= server_name %>

  RailsBaseURI /

  DocumentRoot <%= public_path %>


Then run

cap accelerator:create_vhost

followed by

cap accelerator:restart_apache

If all went well, your site should be now running via passenger! If all is well, we should remove the mongrel service and update our capistrano receipe, as the restart options are now different. To remove the the mongrel config, run cap accelerator:smf_delete. Finally open config/deploy.rb and remove the start and stop deploy tasks, and replace the restart task with:

deploy.task :restart do

  run "touch #{current_path}/tmp/restart.txt"


That should be it. Next time: How to do it on the older Joyent accelerators.


  1. Update: For older accelerators, most of these instructions work, however, they don't have git installed, so you may need to git clone on another machine then copy it across.

    Also the paths are slightly different - substituting /opt/local for /opt/csw and /opt/local/etc/httpd/ for /opt/csw/apache2 will usually do the trick.

    There also some instructions here

  2. while running commnad

    "cap accelerator:create_vhost" I am getting an error,

    "the task accelerator:create_vhost does not exist"

    Please Help.

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