Getting Ruby on Rails up and running on Ubuntu Dapper

I have just installed Ubuntu Dapper Drake Flight 6 on my desktop machine, and because I had had different problems to install Rails from scratch several times (even the recent session was no exception), I have decided to write a step-by-step guide, which assumes a clean, fresh install of Ubuntu ( i.e. at this point you do not even have Ruby on your machine) and leads you through installing Rails and creating a working test application.
Why is this writeup better than any other how-to-install-rails tutorials out there?

  • Because it will tell you to install really just what you need, not 50 packages more
  • It will also show you how to configure the DB and other things to really make Rails work, not just installed

Let’s get started!
Note: Some people asked if this manual is for dapper only. I would say mostly yes, because i have had different problems on breezy (for example i had to compile ruby-mysql driver manually). Its not entirely impossible that it will work with breezy – but then you will have to make sure that the packages are the same version as assumed here (e.g. MySQL > 5 etc.)

Part I: Installation

Prepare the system for the installation

  • Check /etc/apt/sources.list – make sure you have access to the ‘universe’ packages by uncommenting them:
deb dapper universe
deb-src dapper universe
  • Refresh apt packages to make sure you get the most up-to-date stuff:
sudo apt-get update

Install Ruby related packages

  • Install Ruby essentials: ruby, irb, rdoc, ri
sudo apt-get install ruby rdoc ri
  • Install gems: download, unpack, install
go to
download rubygems-0.8.11.tgz (or the latest version)  tar -xzvf rubygems-0.8.11.tgz
cd rubygems-0.8.11/
sudo ruby setup.rb

MySQL installation and configuration

  • Install MySQL:
sudo apt-get install mysql-server
  • Install ruby MySQL bindings
sudo apt-get install libmysql-ruby

Install Rails

sudo gem install rails --include-dependencies

Part II: Configuration

Setup the DB

  • Add an user, create a test database and grant acces for the user
mysqladmin -u root create test_development
mysql -u root

Into the db shell, write the following commands:

create user 'batman'@'localhost' identified by 'robin';
grant all on test_development.* to 'batman'@'localhost';

Don’t forget to replace the username/password (unless you happen to be Batman of course – in this case i suggest to use a different password since this can be guessed easily by social engineers 😉

Create and test the rails app

  • generate the app files

Lets denote your working directory (the root directory where your future rails project s will reside rails_projects).

cd rails_projects
rails test
  • edit config/database.yml
cd rails_projects/test 
vim config/database.yml
  • It should look like this:
adapter: mysql
database: test_development
username: batman
password: robin
host: localhost
  • generate a dummy model
ruby script/generate model Dummy
  • edit the migration file
vim db/migrate/001_create_dummies.rb
class CreateDummies < ActiveRecord::Migration
def   self.up
  create_table :dummies do |t|
    t.column :foo,    :string
    t.column :bar,    :string

def self.down
  drop_table :dummies
  • run the migration
rake db:migrate
  • generate a simple maintenance app
ruby script/generate scaffold Dummy Admin
  • start the server
ruby script/server

Point your browser to http://localhost:3000/admin to see the result.
If you have any problems, please leave a comment, i will try to help you.

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79 thoughts on “Getting Ruby on Rails up and running on Ubuntu Dapper

  1. Thanks Duilio 😉 It’s funny that although this is one of my most popular entries so far, no one noticed (or cared about to write a comment) yet. So thanks, again, it should be corrected now.

  2. Thanks for this. I couldn’t get the db user creation to work until I added a semi-colon after the “create” line:

    create user ‘batman’@’localhost’ identified by ‘robin’;
    grant all on test_development.* to ‘batman’@’localhost’;

  3. Yep, i also have had issues with writing posts in WordPress until i switched to the markdown plugin. The default editor of WP is smarter than Microsoft Word 😉 I don’t know how to tweak this very text field i am writing to, though.

  4. Pingback: Jeff Rasmussen’s Healthcare IT Blog » Mixing Ruby on Rails With Dapper Drake

  5. Fantastic guide. Found you from

    This line needs the last comma removed from the db/migrate/001createdummies.rb file

    t.column :foo, :string,

    Do you have a Dapper guide for getting the application to work with apache or apache2?

  6. Jeff,

    I am glad you liked the stuff 😉
    Thanks for the comma correction, already updated.

    Well, i don’t have a Rails+Dapper+Apache2 guide right now, but i will write one soon – i guess dreamhost makes me too lazy because there you don’t have to install anything, just configure (I did not say there are no issues – once i spent 3 hours with deploying something, though later it became clear that the problem was not with dreamhost but with something completely different) – but at least you don’t have to install rails, apache2 etc.

    Since i will definitely need to set up a rails+apache2 environment locally somewhere in the near future, i will blog about it, too.

  7. Nice tutorial, but it doesn’t work if you disable table pluralization. Even if you use the right names. I think we have found a bug in rails.

  8. @ZuNBiD:

    Well, this tutorial was intended for newbies (i.e. people who have no idea how to disable the table pluralization, just want to get started with Rails on Ubuntu)

    Nevertheless it is interesting that it does not work even if you use the right names… Do you think it is a bug?

  9. I not sure if it is a bug. someone told me that scafolding needs pluralization. I think this is false. Try to follow your tutorial. the only change I did was in these 2 lines:

    ruby script/generate model Dummies

    ruby script/generate scaffold Dummies Admin

    Do you think I missed something ?

  10. I don’t think so scaffolding makes any difference. I think correctly it should be Dummy, not Dummies. Or did i misunderstand something?

  11. I just had a question about this. I’m new to the whole RoR thing, but I’ve been doing programming on LAMP systems for a while, so I’ve had some exposure down this alley. But what I was confused about were the addresses. All the tutorials I’ve seen make you point the address to http://url:3000/directoryname. However, I’d just rather hand out the URL instead of making people remember it’s port 3000. Sounds trivial, I know, but I’d rather not have to deal with telling people what it is and how they should do it, and why the webpage isn’t running. Do you know how to make ROR listen on port 80 instead? Or would I have to somehow make Apache play nicely with RoR?

  12. Hi Brian,

    Possibly the most known RoR mantra is ‘convention over configuration’ – in this case, if you follow the convention, just use port 3000 and you won’t have to change anything. (In fact this convention stems from the default server used in RoR – WEBRick – and WEBRick’s convention is to start servers on the port 3000,3001,…,3000+n)

    Of course, yo can change just about anything if you wish – if you would like to use WEBRick with a different port, just start it like this:

    ruby script/server -p8080

    WEBRick is the quick’n’dirty solution, usually sufficient for development, but never quite enough for real world usage – for this most of the people are using Apache (over FCGI), LigHTTPD or Mongrel, a Ruby web server. There you don’t have the port 3000 anymore.

    My recommendation is to play around with WEBRick (check out

    ruby script/server –help

    for more options, and if you are really doing something heavy, go for Apache+FCGI.

  13. Did good will I got to the:

    mysqladmin -u root create test_development

    and got the message:

    mysqladmin: connect to server at ‘localhost’ failed
    error: ‘Access denied for user ‘root’@’localhost’ (using password: NO)’

    I’ve had more trouble with mysql than any database I’ve ever tried to use. What’s wrong, please!!

  14. Sorry about my typing, it should read:

    Did good till I got to the:

    Also, if I get mysql eventually set up properly, is it very difficult to switch to postgresql as the database? I’d rather use it if I can find out how to make the switch.

    thanks again.

  15. Lee,

    No, it is not difficult at all. All you have to do is to change the adapter in the database.yml file:

    adapter: postgresql

    And that’s it.

    As for mysql – yes, it can be hard sometimes. I am using it only because it PostgreSQL is not (yet) supported on dreamhost. I don’t know why you got this problem, a lot of people walked through this tutorial, and reported no problems…

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  17. I just installed the Ubuntu Drapper. I already used RoR with WindowsXP, but have no idea how to install it on Linux. So, i follow your tutorial. But… where is the “rails_projects” directory? Must I create it somewhere?

    ~/rubygems-0.9.0$ ls
    bin doc gemspecs pkgs Rakefile redist scripts test
    ChangeLog examples lib post-install.rb README Releases setup.rb TODO

  18. No, it is a directory just anywhere. E.g. in my case it is ~/development/railsprojects. It could be also ~/rails or whatever else – I have used “rails_projects” as a variable to further reference the directory where your rails projects will be placed.

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  33. Hi – thanks for your guide, one part that i failed on (after following everything else exactly the same) is the following;

    sudo gem install rails –include-dependencies
    ERROR: While executing gem … (URI::InvalidURIError)
    bad URI(is not URI?): http://:8080/

    Any ideas?


  34. Update – sussed it and it was my enviroment;

    luke@luke-laptop:~$ gem install rails –include-dependencies ERROR: While executing gem … (URI::InvalidURIError)
    bad URI(is not URI?): http://:8080/
    luke@luke-laptop:~$ set | grep 8080
    luke@luke-laptop:~$ unset http
    luke@luke-laptop:~$ set | grep 8080
    luke@luke-laptop:~$ sudo gem install rails –include-dependencies
    Bulk updating Gem source index for:

  35. I couldn’t get the db user creation to work until I added a semi-colon after the “create” line:

    create user ‘batman’@’localhost’ identified by ‘robin’;
    grant all on test_development.* to ‘batman’@’localhost’;

    ı’ve the same problem..

    ERROR 1064 (42000): You have an error in your SQL syntax; check the manual that corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near ‘grant all on test_development.* to ‘batman’@’localhost” at line 2

    what should I do?..

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  37. Pingback: » Blog Archive » Installing Ruby on Rails on Ubuntu

  38. Thank you thank you. Finally a tutorial that works! So now that I have Ruby installed what would you suggest my next step be?
    Also is there any convention where to install Ruby? Right now I have it in /var/www/rails/rails_project on my development machine.

  39. Fantastic Tutorial! I just did a Yahoo! search on rails ubuntu install and landed here.
    Boy, am I glad! 🙂 You not only did a good job testing the tutorial but explained
    the steps quite well. Thank you so much. Because of this wonderful article, I was able
    to get my ruby, rails and mysql setup done in 15 minutes flat!! Kudos and keep up
    the great work.

  40. Hi I try your tutorial and when I type the line

    ruby script/generate model Dummy

    it says to me:

    ruby: No such file or directory — script/generate (LoadError)

    Can you help me?
    Thank you

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