Debian Lenny - Installing Passenger with Apache

Phusion's Passenger (mod_rails) is an exciting development in serving your Ruby on Rails application with the Apache web server.

Incredibly simple to install and use, you can have a rails application up and running in no time. You don't even have to worry about ports or setting up a proxy to another server.


To get the most out of this article you need to have a couple of things preinstalled:

Firstly, you need Apache installed (see this article).

Secondly, you need ruby and rubygems installed (if not please see the Ruby on Rails article).

mod_rails installation

Passenger (mod_rails) is a rubygem.

Let's install the passenger gem:

sudo gem install passenger

Once completed, we need to install the Apache2 module:

sudo passenger-install-apache2-module

A dialogue opens in the terminal and starts with:

mod_rails installation 1

As suggested, press 'Enter/Return':

mod_rails installation 2

I deliberately left the Apache headers off the installation until this point as I want to demonstrate how easy the installation is.

The passenger (mod_rails) install has found a missing dependency — let's press 'Enter/Return':

mod_rails installation 3

How cool is that? It tells us what to do.

Well, let's go ahead and install the headers (we'll use aptitude though):

sudo aptitude install apache2-prefork-dev

Once done, we can try the install again:

sudo passenger-install-apache2-module

All being well, the install will complete with instructions at the end letting us know we need to add some lines to the main Apache2 config file.

No problem:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/apache2.conf

Note: Passenger is an active gem and is being updated all the time. Rather than copy and paste the output I show below, please ensure you copy and paste the output from the install itself.

At the time of writing the article, I installed passenger v2.2.4 — you may have installed a later version.

So, for my v2.2.4 install, I added the following lines to my apache2.conf:

LoadModule passenger_module /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.2.4/ext/apache2/
PassengerRoot /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.2.4
PassengerRuby /usr/bin/ruby1.8

Apache restart

Now all we need to do is restart Apache:

sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart


That's all we need to do to install mod_rails onto our Slice.

The next article will show how to create a Ruby on Rails application and serve it using passenger — an incredibly easy process.

Ben B

Article Comments:

ruby discovrer commented Sat Sep 19 17:24:09 UTC 2009:

really good thnx

Bob Jacobsen commented Sat Jan 30 17:53:00 UTC 2010:

I ran into problems with mkmf missing in my installation. I had installed ruby-dev, but noticed that is pulled sereal 404's in the updated. I corrected by:

sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install ruby1.8-dev sudo apt-get install make

Thanks for writing these articles! They are VERY usefull!

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