Deploying a Ruby Application with Ansible

Published Mar 23, 2016Last updated Aug 26, 2017
Deploying a Ruby Application with Ansible

Introduction

Nowadays, you can get your own dedicated server up and running in seconds. Once you get it up, do you really need to spend several hours on configuring it for your application's needs? Do you really want to repeat the same steps with each new server? In this article, I will give you an idea about automated installation with Ansible, a Simple IT Automation toolkit, and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS server as your box OS.

Background

You would need a basic understanding of Ansible file syntax. If you haven't played around with Ansible yet, I would recommend you review some intro articles like http://docs.ansible.com/ansible/intro.html or perhaps one of the SlideShares like http://www.slideshare.net/robertreiz/ansible-40167296?

Cooking

We would need to deploy the following components: Ruby, Web server with Passenger, and your application itself. For the purposes of this demo, we will install a well-known starter Devise https://github.com/RailsApps/rails-devise.git

Ruby switcher chruby

I used to choose RMV previously, but recently I am a fan of chruby - it is lightweight, quick to understand and just works - it's available at GitHub https://github.com/postmodern/chruby

Upon studying the installation instructions, we can automate manual installation steps with Ansible, and get a bonus: a reusable recipe to install ch_ruby.

---
  - name: Ruby | Check if chruby is present
    shell: test -x /usr/local/bin/chruby-exec
    when: ansible_system == "Linux"
    ignore_errors: yes
    register: chruby_present
    tags: ruby

  - name: Ruby | Download chruby distribution
    get_url: url="http://github.com/postmodern/chruby/archive/v{{ chruby_version }}.tar.gz"
             dest="/tmp/chruby-{{ chruby_version }}.tar.gz"
    when: chruby_present|failed
    tags: ruby

  - name: Ruby | unpack chruby
    command: tar xf "/tmp/chruby-{{ chruby_version }}.tar.gz"
             chdir="/tmp"
    when: chruby_present|failed
    tags: ruby

  - name: Ruby | chruby install target
    command: make install
             chdir="/tmp/chruby-{{ chruby_version }}"
    become: yes
    when: chruby_present|failed
    tags: ruby

  - name: Ruby | autoload script
    template: src="{{role_dir}}/templates/ch_ruby.sh.j2" dest=/etc/profile.d/chruby.sh
    become: yes
    tags: ruby

Ruby install

Ruby-install is the second toolkit from the same author. At the present moment, this approach is the #1 choice for me when I need to install a specific Ruby version. This tool is available at GitHub under address https://github.com/postmodern/ruby-install

Once we study ruby-install setup notes, we can automate these steps with a series of ansible steps:

---
  - name: Ruby | Check if ruby install is present
    shell: test -x /usr/local/bin/ruby-install
    when: ansible_system == "Linux"
    ignore_errors: yes
    register: rubyinstall_present
    tags: ruby

  - name: Ruby | Ruby install | package dependencies
    apt: pkg={{ item }} state=present force="yes"  update_cache="yes"
    when: ansible_system == "Linux"
    with_items:
      - build-essential
      - libffi-dev
      - libgdbm-dev
      - libncurses5-dev
      - libreadline-dev
      - libreadline6-dev
      - libtinfo-dev
      - libyaml-dev
    become: yes
    tags: ruby

  - name: Ruby | Download rubyinstall
    get_url: url=http://github.com/postmodern/ruby-install/archive/v{{ ruby_install_version }}.tar.gz
           dest=/tmp/ruby-install-{{ ruby_install_version }}.tar.gz
    when: rubyinstall_present | failed
    tags: ruby

  - name: Ruby | Unpack ruby-install
    command: tar xf /tmp/ruby-install-{{ ruby_install_version }}.tar.gz
             chdir=/tmp
    when: rubyinstall_present | failed
    tags: ruby

  - name: Ruby | Run ruby-install install target
    command: make install
           chdir=/tmp/ruby-install-{{ ruby_install_version }}
    when: rubyinstall_present | failed
    become: yes
    tags: ruby

  - name: Ruby | Download list of rubies available
    command: ruby-install
    when: rubyinstall_present | failed
    become: yes
    tags: ruby

Ruby

Now it is time to install Ruby. Small comment here: if you deploy on a shared server, you most likely would like to have an ability to have multiple Ruby versions and to switch between them. On the other hand, if you deploy your application to a dedicated host, usually I also replace default system Ruby with the same Ruby version.

With the tools above, your Ruby installation recipe will be compact & clear:

---
  - name: Ruby | Find out if ruby_version is already installed
    stat: path={{rubies_location}}/ruby-{{ruby_version}}
    register: ruby_version_present
    tags: ruby

  - name: Ruby | Install ruby_version if necessary
    command: '/usr/local/bin/ruby-install ruby {{ruby_version}}'
    when: not ruby_version_present.stat.exists
    become: yes
    tags: ruby

  - debug: var="ruby_install_setsystem"

  - name: Ruby | Update SYSTEM ruby_version if necessary
    command: '/usr/local/bin/ruby-install --system ruby {{ruby_version}}'
    when: option_ruby_install_setsystem
    become: yes
    tags: ruby

Webserver & passenger

Thanks to the Phusion Passenger team, who did a great job to provide pre-built binaries for most of the popular platforms and configurations at https://oss-binaries.phusionpassenger.com/, we can skip the steps of compiling phusion passengers from a source, recompiling, webserver, etc & use their pre-built binary instead.

Historically, I prefer Nginx over the classic choice Apache, thus we will install a pre-built Nginx with passenger:

---
  - name: Nginx | Check if is present
    command: test -x /usr/sbin/nginx
    when: ansible_os_family == "Debian"
    ignore_errors: yes
    register: nginx_present
    tags: nginx

  - name: Passenger | Add GPG key to apt keyring
    apt_key: keyserver=keyserver.ubuntu.com id=561F9B9CAC40B2F7
    when: ansible_os_family == "Debian" and nginx_present|failed
    tags: passenger
    become: yes

  - name: Passenger | Install needed packages
    apt: state=present pkg="{{item}}"
    with_items:
     - apt-transport-https
     - ca-certificates
    when: ansible_os_family == "Debian" and nginx_present|failed
    become: yes
    tags: passenger

  - name: Passenger | Add nginx extras repository
    apt_repository: repo="deb https://oss-binaries.phusionpassenger.com/apt/passenger trusty main" state=present
    when: ansible_os_family == "Debian" and nginx_present|failed
    tags: passenger
    become: yes

  - name: Ruby | Install Nginx extra and Phusion Passenger
    apt: state=present update_cache=yes pkg="{{item}}"
    when: ansible_os_family == "Debian" and nginx_present|failed
    with_items:
     - nginx-extras
     - passenger
    become: yes
    tags: passenger

  - name: Nginx | Create sites available/enabled directories
    file: path={{item}} state=directory mode=0755
    with_items:
      - /etc/nginx/sites-available
      - /etc/nginx/sites-enabled
    when: ansible_os_family == "Debian" and nginx_present|failed
    tags:
      - nginx
      - passenger
    become: yes

  - name: Nginx | Configure include sites-enabled
    lineinfile: dest=/etc/nginx/nginx.conf regexp=".*sites-enabled.*" line="    include /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/*;" insertbefore="}" state=present
    tags:
      - nginx
      - passenger
    when: ansible_os_family == "Debian" and nginx_present|failed
    become: yes

  - name: Nginx | Disable default site
    file: path=/etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default state=absent
    tags:
      - nginx
      - passenger
    when: ansible_os_family == "Debian" and nginx_present|failed
    become: yes

  - name: Nginx | Uncomment server_names_hash_bucket_size
    lineinfile: dest=/etc/nginx/nginx.conf regexp="^(\s*)#\s*server_names_hash_bucket_size" line="\1server_names_hash_bucket_size 64;" backrefs=yes
    become: yes
    when: ansible_os_family == "Debian" and nginx_present|failed
    tags:
      - nginx
      - passenger

  - name: Nginx | Set ruby to system one
    lineinfile: dest=/etc/nginx/nginx.conf regexp="^(\s*)#\s*passenger_ruby" line="passenger_ruby /usr/local/bin/ruby;" backrefs=yes
    become: yes
    when: ansible_os_family == "Debian" and nginx_present|failed
    tags:
      - nginx
      - passenger

  - name: Nginx | Set ruby to system one
    lineinfile: dest=/etc/nginx/nginx.conf regexp="^(\s*)#\s*passenger_root" line="passenger_root /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/phusion_passenger/locations.ini;" backrefs=yes
    become: yes
    when: ansible_os_family == "Debian" and nginx_present|failed
    tags:
      - nginx
      - passenger

  - name: Nginx | Reload
    service: name=nginx state=reloaded
    when: ansible_os_family == "Debian" and nginx_present|failed
    tags:
      - nginx
      - passenger
    become: yes

Several comments on the installation script above, which might require changes based on your own scenarios:

  1. The task named "Create sites available/enabled directories" & the next one actually implements an Apache-like "sites-available / sites-enabled" folder structure for VHosts configs. If you prefer the default setup, comment that part out.

  2. Specifying ruby location to passenger with

lineinfile: dest=/etc/nginx/nginx.conf regexp="^(\s*)#\s*passenger_ruby" line="passenger_ruby /usr/local/bin/ruby;" backrefs=yes

As you see, the replacement above assumes that your system Ruby is used. You might want to specify a different ruby path here.

The goal of these two tasks is to take nginx.conf & set two parameters: passenger_root and passenger_ruby as per original instuctions in above comment.

        ##
        # Uncomment it if you installed passenger or passenger-enterprise
        ##

passenger_root /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/phusion_passenger/locations.ini;
passenger_ruby /usr/local/bin/ruby;

How would you validate that if you've installed nginx with passenger right ?

You can do so by executing these commands to validate the setup:

sudo /usr/bin/passenger-config validate-install

What would you like to validate?
Use <space> to select.
If the menu doesn't display correctly, press '!'

 ‣ ⬢  Passenger itself
   ⬡  Apache

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

 * Checking whether this Passenger install is in PATH... ✓
 * Checking whether there are no other Passenger installations... ✓

Everything looks good. :-)

As for /usr/sbin/passenger-memory-stats, you should see both Nginx & passenger processes.

sudo /usr/sbin/passenger-memory-stats
Version: 5.0.26
Date   : 2016-03-18 11:17:57 +0200
------------- Apache processes -------------
*** WARNING: The Apache executable cannot be found.
Please set the APXS2 environment variable to your 'apxs2' executable's filename, or set the HTTPD environment variable to your 'httpd' or 'apache2' executable's filename.

--------- Nginx processes ----------
PID   PPID  VMSize    Private  Name
------------------------------------
8768  9991  138.1 MB  1.1 MB   nginx: worker process
8769  9991  137.8 MB  0.9 MB   nginx: worker process
8770  9991  137.8 MB  0.9 MB   nginx: worker process
8771  9991  137.8 MB  0.9 MB   nginx: worker process
9991  1     137.8 MB  0.9 MB   nginx: master process /usr/sbin/nginx
### Processes: 5
### Total private dirty RSS: 4.68 MB

---- Passenger processes -----
PID   VMSize    Private  Name
------------------------------
8742  436.3 MB  1.0 MB   Passenger watchdog
8745  982.9 MB  2.0 MB   Passenger core
8756  444.5 MB  1.1 MB   Passenger ust-router
8806  387.1 MB  69.3 MB  Passenger RubyApp: /var/www/public (production)
### Processes: 4
### Total private dirty RSS: 73.47 MB
slavko@ERM:/etc/nginx$

Application setup itself

Let's define your application parameters: in particular, required OS packages to build gems, app secret and to hash the passwords, application environment parameters, database connection details.

  app_dependencies:
    - libsqlite3-dev
    - libmysqlclient-dev
    - libpq-dev
    - git
    - nodejs
    - npm

  app_short_name: app
  app_env: production
  app_domain: domain.local
  app_secret: 82d58d3dfb91238b495a311eb8539edf5064784f1d58994679db8363ec241c745bef0b446bfe44d66cbf91a2f4e497d8f6b1ef1656e3f405b0d263a9617ac75e
  app_repository: https://github.com/RailsApps/rails-devise.git
#  app_repository_keyname: id_rsa_app
  app_base_dir: /var/www
  app_www_root: "{{app_base_dir}}/public"

  app_env_vars:
    - {name: SECRET_KEY_BASE, value: "{{app_secret}}" }
    - {name: DATABASE_URL, value: "postgres://{{app_db_user}}:{{app_db_password}}@{{app_db_host}}/{{app_db_name}}"}
    - {name: RAILS_ENV, value: "{{app_env}}" }
    - {name: DOMAIN_NAME, value: "{{app_domain}}" }

  app_db_host: localhost
  app_db_user: app_user
  app_db_password: app_password
  app_db_name: app_database    

  app_directories:
    - "{{app_base_dir}}"

The application provisioning script itself goes into stages: OS packages dependencies, Gem dependencies (for devise it is sqlite3), checking out the source code, patching Gem file so the ruby version matches the one installed on host + introducing production gems for uglifyjs (this is current app specifics), bundle install, patching database configuration, assets compilation, db migration, generating nginx site configuration, restarting the web server.

---

  - name: APP STUB | Dependencies
    apt: pkg={{ item }} state=present force="yes"  update_cache="yes"
    when: ansible_system == "Linux"
    with_items: "{{app_dependencies}}"
    become: yes
    tags: app_stub

  - name: APP STUB | Install gem dependencies
    shell: "gem install --no-rdoc --no-ri {{item}}"
    with_items:
      - sqlite3
    become: yes
    tags: app_stub

  - name: APP STUB | Re-create base app directory
    file: path={{app_base_dir}} state=absent
    become: yes
    tags: app_stub

  - name: APP STUB | Create directories
    file: path={{item}} state=directory mode=0755 owner={{ansible_user_id}} group={{ansible_user_id}}
    with_items: "{{app_directories}}"
    become: yes
    tags: app_stub

  - name: APP STUB | Checkout app without key
    git: repo="{{app_repository}}" dest="{{app_base_dir}}" accept_hostkey="yes" force="yes"
    when: app_repository_keyname is not defined
    tags: app_stub

  - name: APP STUB | Install global rails gem
    shell: gem install --no-rdoc --no-ri rails
    become: yes
    tags: app_stub

  - name: APP STUB | Eliminate ruby req
    lineinfile: dest="{{app_base_dir}}/Gemfile" regexp="^(\s*)*ruby" line="ruby '{{ruby_version}}'"
    tags: app_stub

  - name: APP STUB | gem therubyracer - uglifyjs
    lineinfile: dest="{{app_base_dir}}/Gemfile" regexp="^(\s*)*gem 'therubyracer'" line="gem 'therubyracer', :platforms => :ruby" insertafter="^group :production do"
    tags: app_stub

  - name: APP STUB | gem execjs - uglifyjs
    lineinfile: dest="{{app_base_dir}}/Gemfile" regexp="^(\s*)*gem 'execjs'" line="gem 'execjs'" insertafter="^group :production do"
    tags: app_stub

  - name: APP STUB | gem pg
    lineinfile: dest="{{app_base_dir}}/Gemfile" regexp="^(\s*)*gem 'pg'" line="gem 'pg'" insertafter="^group :production do"
    tags: app_stub

  - name: APP STUB | Run bundle install --path .bundle/gems --binstubs .bundle/bin
    shell: bundle install  --path .bundle/gems --binstubs .bundle/bin
    args:
      chdir: "{{app_base_dir}}"
    tags: app_stub

  - name: APP STUB | database.yml
    template: src="{{root_dir}}/templates/app/database.yml.j2" dest="{{app_base_dir}}/config/database.yml"
    become: yes
    tags: app_stub

  - name: APP STUB | Precompile assets
    shell: bundle exec rake assets:precompile
    args:
      chdir: "{{app_base_dir}}"
    environment:
      RAILS_ENV: "{{app_env}}"
      DATABASE_URL: "postgres://{{app_db_user}}:{{app_db_password}}@{{app_db_host}}/{{app_db_name}}"
      SECRET_KEY_BASE: "{{app_secret}}"
      DOMAIN_NAME: "{{app_domain}}"
    tags: app_stub

  - name: APP STUB | DB Migrate
    shell: bundle exec rake db:migrate
    args:
      chdir: "{{app_base_dir}}"
    environment:
      RAILS_ENV: "{{app_env}}"
      DATABASE_URL: "postgres://{{app_db_user}}:{{app_db_password}}@{{app_db_host}}/{{app_db_name}}"
      SECRET_KEY_BASE: "{{app_secret}}"
      DOMAIN_NAME: "{{app_domain}}"
    tags: app_stub

  - name: APP STUB | Nginx conf
    template: src="{{root_dir}}/templates/nginx_app.conf.j2" dest="/etc/nginx/sites-enabled/{{app_short_name}}.conf"
    become: yes
    tags: app_stub

  - name: Nginx | Reload
    service: name=nginx state=reloaded
    become: yes
    tags: app_stub

In particular, we patch the database config/database.yml with real connection details

# On Heroku and other platform providers, you may have a full connection URL
# available as an environment variable. For example:
#
#   DATABASE_URL="postgres://myuser:mypass@localhost/somedatabase"
#
# You can use this database configuration with:
#
   production:
     url: <%= ENV['DATABASE_URL'] %>

And we patch the Nginx app site config to provide app environment variables to ruby app with passenger_env_var instructions.

server {
  listen 80 default_server;
  passenger_enabled on;

  {% for envvar in app_env_vars %}
  passenger_env_var {{ envvar.name }} "{{ envvar.value }}";
  {% endfor %}

  passenger_app_env {{app_env}};
  root {{app_www_root}};
}

Running the code

Let's execute the provisioning & test it. For purposes of the demo, we will use a local postgres as our DB.

---
- hosts: www

  vars:
    - root_dir: ..

  roles:
     - {
         role: "sa-postgres",
         option_create_app_user: true
       }
     - {
         role: "sa-ruby",
         ruby_install_setsystem: true,
         ruby_version: 2.3.0,

         option_install_sampleapp: true,
         option_install_nginx_passenger: true
       }

Once the application provisioning process is over:

TASK: [sa-ruby | Nginx | Reload] **********************************************
changed: [192.168.0.17] => {"changed": true, "name": "nginx", "state": "started"}

PLAY RECAP ********************************************************************
192.168.0.17               : ok=55   changed=46   unreachable=0    failed=0   

Play run took 23 minutes

So, depending on your network speed, you'll have your application installed.

Let's check through the ip address:

Deployed application

Points of Interest

Now you aware of another way to deploy your ruby applications.

Demo deployment script is available at https://github.com/Voronenko/devops-ruby-app-demo, recipes packed as ansible reusable role available at https://github.com/softasap/sa-ruby.

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