Matt Connolly's Blog

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Tag Archives: apache

Passenger apache module for OpenIndiana

I did a bit of hunting and made some patches to the ‘passenger’ gem so that it’s apache module would compile for OpenIndiana. Changes are in my github fork:

And I just noticed that one of the fixes was in a patch in Joyent’s SmartOSĀ instructions for using passenger.

I tested this also on a VM guest installation of Solaris 11 Express, and it worked too. I’d be interested to hear if it works for others on OpenIndiana, Solaris or SmartOS.

So with updates to rvm, latest version of ruby and with this patched version of passenger, I’m finally good to go to deploy rails apps on OpenIndiana. Woot!


When rate limiting your server more than doubles your server output…

At work, we’ve had a few customers mentioning to us that they’ve experienced slow downloads of data from our servers. When I’ve tested it at home, I’ve experienced the same thing, albeit not quite as bad. The best data rate I could get was about 30% of our server’s bandwidth.

In the last few days I’ve had several conversations with the network engineers at our ISP trying to identify exactly what the problem is. (Thank goodness we’re not with Telstra, if we had to wait for 3 times for a field technician to check if it was plugged in ok, we’d lose our business!)

After having the ISP’s network engineer change a few settings on their equipment, and doing some speed tests to a mini speed test site on their servers, we were still only able to utilise about 30% of our output bandwidth. Crapola.

He explained to me that our rate limiting was done by traffic policing at the switch on the other end of our link. After some reading about what traffic policing was, I’m led to understand that when your data rate is exceeded, packets are dropped. Shouldn’t be too much of a drama, TCP is designed to recover from packet loss, and it does a great job of it, right?. But, what does this packet loss mean to our actual throughput rates?

After making numerous other changes, none of which helped our bandwidth problem, I decided to try something else: rate limiting our server.

Our web files are served by apache running on a Mac, and luckily the Mac OS includes rate limiting controls in its built in firewall. (Great little tutorial here).

So with the `ipfw` command at the ready, I limited outgoing traffic on port 80 (http) to 80% of our bandwidth. And viola! Download rates rose more than double from 30% to 80% of our output limit!!

I never expected that rate limiting our server would cause our outgoing data rate to increase! Especially, more than double!

I’m sure there is a time and place for dropping packets (traffic policing), but it appears to be not working well for us. If anyone has more input on where this is appropriate or for suggestions of other alternatives, please let me know!

Redmine: Ruby on Rails without Virtual Hosts

I’ve been playing around with Redmine, a Rails app, on Mac OS X 10.6. It’s been quite a pain to get set up. It seems that the only easy way to get passenger to work is with virtual hosts. It’s not really obvious or intuitive how virtual hosts work. After a lot of RTFMing the apache docs, and passenger google group, I got it working. But Virtual hosts are still a pain, because you have to set them up in your /etc/hosts file more for every machine on the network, and there’s still a high likelihood of breaking other things (like php apps)

So, is it possible to install redmine (or any ruby on rails app) in a directory without using a separate virtual host just for the app, AND without taking down other php apps (drupal, phpmyadmin, etc) which are running on the same apache server?

Yes. After lots of trial and error, the solution is fairly simple, but has to be done in a specific way.

Step 1. Configure httpd.conf files

Add this to your httpd.conf file, (or an included file) before your users/other conf files are loaded:

LoadModule passenger_module /Library/Ruby/Gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.2.15/ext/apache2/
PassengerRoot /Library/Ruby/Gems/1.8/gems/passenger-2.2.15
PassengerRuby /System/Library/Frameworks/Ruby.framework/Versions/1.8/usr/bin/ruby
PassengerEnabled Off

Follow the passenger install instructions to make sure that you’ve got the right paths and versions in there. “PassengerEnabled Off” in the global scope disables it by default. We’ll enable it just for where we want it.

Step 2. Setup a .conf file for the rails app

In my case, I’ve added a “redmine.conf” file which is imported by httpd.conf. In this file, I have:

<Location "/redmine">
    Options Indexes ExecCGI FollowSymLinks -MultiViews
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
    AllowOverride all

    PassengerEnabled On
    RailsBaseURI /redmine
    RailsEnv production

Here we enable Passenger, set the rails environment and the rails base URI.

Step 3. Setup a symlink

I had tried this with real directories and apache “Alias” commands to no luck. The passenger module docs does have instructions, but only for use with virtual hosts, if you ignore the virtual hosts bit, it works. On the mac, I have it set up like this:

$ # /Library/WebServer/Documents -- document root
$ # /Library/WebServer/Sites -- for rails and other apps.
$ cd /Library/WebServer/Documents
$ ln -s ../Sites/redmine/public redmine

Finally, a solution that other network machines can access without Virtual Host nightmare.

Ruby on Rails Virtual Host craziness

I followed the instructions for installing ruby with passenger from this blog:

I had a similar problem to Tom’s comment where all my web requests ended up being handled by passenger (mod_rails). RTFM’ing about virtual hosts found a solution for me:

The first virtual host becomes the main site. So you need a virtual host for “localhost” with ServerName localhost and DocumentRoot matching the main server DocumentRoot.

Otherwise the rails app will become the default, and the entire site will be handled by passenger. Most frustating.