If you’re a developer looking for a reliable, open-source, cross-platform web development framework for Linux, Ruby on Rails is a great choice for you. It helps them build applications and websites by abstracting and simplifying the repetitive tasks that occur during development. It is called Ruby on Rails because Rails is written in the Ruby programming language, just like Symfony and Zend are written in PHP and Django is written in Python. Rails provides standard structures for databases, web servers and websites. Famous applications like Soundcloud, Github and Airbnb are all based on Rails. Ruby on Rails is licensed under MIT and was first released in December 2005. All its repositories are available on Github, including the latest version to date.

In this article, we will provide step-by-step instructions for installing and configuring Ruby on Rails with all its requirements. Then we will explain how to install and configure the PostgreSQL database to create your first Rails project. Finally, we’ll also create a simple CRUD interface to make your application more interactive and useful.

We have run the commands and procedures mentioned in this article on a Debian 10 Buster system. We use the Debian command line, the terminal, to install and configure Ruby on Rails. You can access the terminal application by searching the Application Launcher as follows:

Debian Terminal

The Application launcher can be accessed through the Super/Windows key on your keyboard.

Installing Ruby on Rails (RoR) on Debian 10

In order to install Ruby on Rails, you first need to have the latest versions of some prerequisites installed and configured on your system, such as:

  • RVM-Ruby Version Manager
  • Ruby
  • Nodejs- Javascript runtime
  • Ruby Gems-Ruby Package Manager

In this section, we will first have our system ready by first installing all these step-by-step, setting up their latest versions, and then finally install Ruby on Rails.

1. Install Ruby Version Manager (RVM)

The Ruby Version Manager helps us in managing Ruby installation and configuring multiple versions of Ruby on a single system. Follow these steps in order to install the RVM package through the installer script:

Step 1: Add the RVM key to your system

Run the following command in order to add the RVM key; this key will be needed when you install a stable version of RVM:

$ gpg --keyserver hkp://keys.gnupg.net --recv-keys 409B6B1796C275462A1703113804BB82D39DC0E3 \
7D2BAF1CF37B13E2069D6956105BD0E739499BDB

Install GPG Key

Step 2: Install Curl

We will be installing RVM through Curl. Since it does not come by default with the latest versions of Debian, we will need to install it through the following commands as sudo:

$ sudo apt-get install curl

Please note that only authorized users can add/remove and configure software on Debian.

Install Curl

The system will prompt you with a Y/n option in order to confirm the installation. Please enter Y to continue, after which, Curl will be installed on your system.

Step 3: Install the RVM Stable version

Now run the following command in order to install the latest stable version of RVM.

$ curl -sSL https://get.rvm.io | bash -s stable --ruby

This command will also automatically install all the required packages needed to install RVM.

Install RVM

The process will take some time depending on your Internet speed, after which RVM will be installed on your system.

Step 4: Setup RVM source folder

Please note that the last few lines of the RVM installation output suggest running the following command:

$ source /home/[username]/.rvm/scripts/rvm

This is used to set the source folder to the one mentioned in the output. You need to run this command in order to start using RVM.

You will get the following output when setting up the source:

Setup RVM source folder

Now the source for RVM is set. You can check the version number of RVM installed on your system through the following command:

$ rvm --version

Check RVM version

This also ensures that RVM is indeed installed on your system.

2. Configure Latest Version of Ruby As system default

When you install RVM, the latest version of Ruby is also installed on your system. What we need to do, however, is to set up our system to use the latest version of Ruby as the system default. Follow these steps to do so:

Step 1: Get a list of all available Ruby versions

The following command gives you the list of all Ruby versions released till date:

$ rvm list known

List ruby versions

Through this list, please select the latest version of Ruby available. As you can see in the output, Ruby 2.7 is the latest version available.

Step 2: Install the latest Ruby version

Now install the latest version of Ruby that you have selected in the previous step, by running the following rvm command:

$ rvm install ruby-2.7

Install latest Ruby version

The process may take some time depending on your Internet speed, after which the selected number of Ruby will be installed on your system.

Step 3: Set the latest version of Ruby as default

The following rvm command will help you in setting the latest installed version of Ruby as the system default:

$ rvm --default use ruby-2.7

Set default Ruby version

You can see that now my system will be using Ruby 2.7.0 as the default Ruby version

In case of error:

You might also get the following output after running the above command:

Ruby error

In that case, run the following command to allow login shell:

Fix Ruby error

Then, run the following command again to set the Ruby version:

$ rvm --default use ruby-2.7

This default version can also be verified by running the following command:

$ ruby -v

Check Ruby version

3. Install Nodejs and the gcc compiler

Before starting with the Rails development on Debian, we recommend using Nodejs as the Javascript runtime. It is a prerequisite for compiling Ruby on Rails asset pipeline.

Step 1: Install the latest version of Nodejs

Use the following command in order to install the Nodesource repository to your system:

$ curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_10.x | sudo -E bash -

Install Nodejs

Now install the latest version of Nodejs through the following apt command as sudo:

$ sudo apt-get install -y nodejs

Install Nodejs with apt

The latest available version of Nodejs 10 will be installed on your system

Step 2: Install the gcc compiler

The gcc compiler is another prerequisite that you need to install before performing any Rails development. Use the following command as sudo in order to install it:

$ sudo apt-get install gcc g++ make

Install gcc and compiler tools

5.Configure Latest Version of RubyGems As system default

When you install RVM, RubyGems is also installed on your system. What we need to do, however, is to set up our system to use the latest version of RubyGems the system default. Ruby Gems is basically the Ruby on Rails package manager that comes with the command line tool-gem.

Run the following gem command in order to update the system to use the latest version:

$ gem update --system

Update Ruby Gems

Now when you check the version number through the following command, you will see that your system is using the latest version of RubyGems in the command line:

$ gem -v

Check gem version

5. Install Ruby on Rails

Finally, after installing all the prerequisites, we can now install Ruby on Rails on our system by following these steps:

Step 1: Lookup for the latest available version

The RubyGems website maintains all the versions of Ruby on Rails till date, on the following link:

https://rubygems.org/gems/rails/versions

Choose the latest version of Ruby on Rails that you would like to install. At the time of writing this article, the latest available version is 6.0.2.1.

Step 2: Install the latest version

You can install the latest version of Ruby on Rails through the gem command-line tool as follows:

$ gem install rails -v 6.0.2.1

Install Ruby on Rails

The installation process might take some time depending on your Internet connection.

After the installation is complete, run the following command to view the Rails version installed on your system.

$ rails -v

Check Rails version

The command also verifies that Ruby on Rails is indeed installed on your system.

Rails Development

Ruby on Rails supports many databases such as SQLite, MySQL, and PostgreSQL. In this section, we will explain how to start with the Rails development with PostgreSQL. This will include:

  • Installing PostgreSQL Database
  • Configuring PostgreSQL and Creating Roles
  • Your First Rails application
  • Creating a simple CRUD with PostgreSQL database on Rails

1. Install and Setup PostgreSQL Database

Step1: Install PostgreSQL

Use the following apt command as sudo in order to install the PostgreSQL database and some other required packages:

$ sudo apt-get install postgresql postgresql-contrib libpq-dev -y

Install PostghreSQL

Step 2: Start and enable the Postgresql service

Once PostgreSQL is installed, you need to start the postgresql service through the following command:

$ systemctl start postgresql

Start PostgreSQL

The system will prompt you with an authentication dialog, as only an authorized user can enable services on Debian. Enter the admin password and click the Authenticate button after which the service will start.

The next step is to enable the service through the following command:

$ systemctl enable postgresql

Enable PostgreSQL

The system will prompt you with a similar authentication dialog multiple times; enter the admin password each time and click the Authenticate button after which the service will be enabled.

Step 3: Verify installation

Please run the following command in order to view a detailed status report of your PostgreSQL installation:

$ dpkg --status postgresql

Check postgres status

2. Configure PostgreSQL and Create Roles

PostgreSQL applications can be created by user or roles. By default, a “postgres” user exists which is a super user and it can create and migrate databases and also manage other user roles.

Initially, you can log in as sudo on PostgreSQL through the following command:

$ sudo -u postgres psql

Login to postgres

Here you can change the password of postgres as follows:

postgress=# \password postgres

Set postgres password

Create a Role

A super user can create a new user role through the following command:

create role “role_name” with createdb login password “‘password’”’ ;

Example:

postgress=# create role dev_rails with createdb login password 'rockon123' ;

We are creating a role by the name of “dev_rails”. This is a user that will create a db for our first Rails application.

Create a role

A superuser can view the list of roles existing on PostgreSQL as follows:

postgress=# \du

PostgreSQL du command

Use Ctrl+z to exit PostgreSQL.

3. Your First Rails Application

Now we will create our first Rails application with PostgreSQL as the default database. This involves the following steps:

Step 1: Create a new application

Create a new project by the name of “firstapp”, or any other name, through the following command and specify PostgreSQL as the database as follows:

$ rails new firstapp -d postgresql

First Ruby on Rails Application

This will create a project folder in your home folder as follows:

$ ls

Application stub created

Step 2: Configure your Rails project to incorporate the PostgreSQL user role

Now we want the user role we created in PostgreSQL to be able to create a database in the Rails application. For this, we need to edit the database.yml file located in your newly created application’s folder in the /config/ folder.

Move to your first application and then the config folder as follows:

$ cd firstapp/config/

Here you will see the database.yml file. You can edit this file through your favorite text editor. We will be doing so through the Nano editor by using the following command:

$ nano database.yml

Database configuration for Rails app

In this file, you will be able to see mainly three sections:

  • Development
  • Test
  • Production

We will need to configure the Development and Test sections of the file.

Make the following configurations in the Development section

database: firstapp_development

username: dev_rails

password: rockon123

host: localhost

port: 5432

database.yml

And, the following in the Test section:

database: firstapp_test

username: dev_rails

password: rockon123

host: localhost

port: 5432

Note: Please make sure that the syntax is correct. Each line should be preceded by 2 spaces and NOT tabs.

Save the file by pressing Ctrl+X, then Y and then by hitting Enter.

Step 3: Generate and then migrate the Database

Generate the database through the following rails command:

$ rails db:setup

You might get the following error on Debian:

rails db:setup

So run the command mentioned in the above screenshot:

bundle lock

And then run the ‘rails db:setup’ command again:

db setup

Please make sure that there are no errors. Most errors are due to the wrong syntax of the database.yml file or the inconsistency in the username and password from the one you created in PostgreSQL.

After the successful generation, migrate the database through the following rails command:

$ rails db:migrate

Migrate db

Step 4: Start the Puma Rails webserver

Before starting the Puma Rails webserver successfully, you need to have Yarn installed on your system. You can install Yarn on Debian through the following set of command:

$ curl -sS https://dl.yarnpkg.com/debian/pubkey.gpg | sudo apt-key add -
$ echo "deb https://dl.yarnpkg.com/debian/ stable main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/yarn.list

and then,

$ sudo apt-get upate
$ sudo apt install --no-install-recommends yarn

Another prereq is to install WebPacker through Rails as follows:

Install yarn

After completing the application setup, please enter the following command in order to start the default Puma web server:

$ rails s -b localhost -p 8080

Or in our case,

$ rails s -b 127.0.0.1 -p 8080

Start Rails server

After this command, your first Rails application is running on the local host at port 8080.

Step 5: Open the default Rails Project Homepage

You can view your database successfully being hosted on the default Rails Project homepage by entering the URL in one of your web browsers:

http://localhost:8080/

rails started

You can now perform any CRUD operation on this simple application. Follow the article some more in order to make your application a little more interactive.

4. Create a simple CRUD with PostgreSQL database on Rails

Let us make our application more interactive by implementing a CRUD(Create, Read, Update, Delete) interface.

Step 1: Create a Scaffold in Rails

Run the following command in order to create a scaffold in your Rails application folder

$ rails g scaffold Post title:string body:text

Rails Scaffolding

Then migrate the database by running the following command:

$ rake db:migrate

Step 2: Run the application on Puma Rails Web Server

Next, run your application on the localhost by running the Puma web server again through the following command:

$ rails s -b localhost -p 8080

You can also use your localhost IP, like us for the above-mentioned command:

$ rails s -b 127.0.0.1 -p 8080

Test Rails app

Step 3: Open the ‘Posts’ page in Rails Project

You can view your database successfully being hosted on the Rails Project page by entering the URL in one of your web browsers:

http://localhost:8080/posts/

Or use a localhost IP like us:

http://127.0.0.1:8080/posts

You will be able to see a simple CRUD interface through which you can create, edit, show and destroy posts.

When I created a post using the New Post link, here is how my posts page looks like now:

Test post

Installing and Configuring Ruby on Rails on Debian 10
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Karim Buzdar

About the Author: Karim Buzdar holds a degree in telecommunication engineering and holds several sysadmin certifications. As an IT engineer and technical author, he writes for various web sites. You can reach Karim on LinkedIn