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Setting up a webserver for Rails

Rails runs on most operating systems like Linux, Mac, BSD and Windows. You also have to choose from a wide range of webserver configurations. The most popular ones are listed below, with links to sites where you can find configuration details. Which configuration is the best, is mostly a matter of personal taste. Choose the one you have the most experience with. If it works, you are good to go.

Some things you should never do.

  • You should never choose cgi, which is too slow if you run a Rails application on it.
  • Never do a deployment with Webbrick, the Ruby webserver included with every Ruby installation. Webbrick is fine for development, but too slow for production.
  • Never deploy your Rails application solely with Mongrel. Mongrel is designed to serve up Ruby code (Rails, Nitro, Camping, ...), but it isn't suitable to serve static content like images, html, css or javascript. Mongrel should always be deployed behind another webserver, like Apache.

Apache + fastcgi

Apache: http://httpd.apache.org/
Apache + fastcgi setup: Tuning Apache + fastcgi: http://scottstuff.net/blog/articles/2005/07/20/apache-tuning-for-rails-and-fastcgi
Interesting story about FastCGI, SCGI, and Apache: http://www.vmunix.com/mark/blog/archives/2006/01/02/fastcgi-scgi-and-apache-background-and-future/

Apache + fcgid

Apache: http://httpd.apache.org/
fcgid: http://fastcgi.coremail.cn/
Apache + fcgid setup:

Apache + Mongrel

Apache: http://httpd.apache.org/
Mongrel: http://mongrel.rubyforge.org/
Apache + Mongrel:

Litespeed

This sites runs on Litespeed. So it's the only webserver I can comment on. I initially wanted to run on Apache + Mongrel, but my configuration resultated in a high memory usage. And when I hammered it with ab, the CPU usage went through the roof. That is why I went for Litespeed. The advantages of Litespeed are GUI to setup and manage it, easy to update (it checks daily for new releases) and downgrade, uses very few resources, really fast and great support. Disadvantages are the fact that you have many options to fine tune it, too many. And it isn't always clear what all the options do. You sometimes need to upgrade ruby-lsapi, with gem update ruby-lsapi. Other than that I'm quite happy with it. Please use Litespeed as a standalone webserver, don't proxy it behind Apache or put Mongrels behind it. Litespeed is good enough to do all the work for you.

Litespeed webserver: http://www.litespeedtech.com
Litespeed up and running in under 4 minutes: http://i.nfectio.us/articles/2006/09/04/litespeed-web-server-2-2-includes-rails-support

Nginx + Mongrel

Nginx: http://sysoev.ru/en/
Mongrel: http://mongrel.rubyforge.org/
Nginx + Mongrel setup:

Lighttpd

Lighttpd: http://www.lighttpd.net/
Lighttpd setup:

Lighttpd + Mongrel

Don't use this solution until Lighttpd 1.5 comes out. Their have been many reports of problems with the mod_proxy plugin. They will however be fixed in verion 1.5. But you can also use Lighttpd without Mongrel to serve up your Rails pages.

Lighttpd: http://www.lighttpd.net/
Mongrel: http://mongrel.rubyforge.org/
Lighttpd + Mongrel setup: http://mongrel.rubyforge.org/docs/lighttpd.html

Pound + Mongrel

Pound: http://www.apsis.ch/pound/
Mongrel: http://mongrel.rubyforge.org/
Pound + Mongrel setup:

Pen + Mongrel

Pen: http://siag.nu/pen/
Mongrel: http://mongrel.rubyforge.org/
Pen + Mongrel setup:

Balance + Mongrel

Balance: http://www.inlab.de/balance.html
Mongrel: http://mongrel.rubyforge.org/
Balance + Mongrel setup: http://mongrel.rubyforge.org/docs/pen_balance.html

IIS

Rails on IIS:

Zeus

Zeus: http://www.zeus.com/

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