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How You Can Help The State of Ruby Webapp Deployment In The Next 5 Minutes

By Peter Cooper / February 18, 2009

passengerlogo.pngCan you remember what a hideous chore it was to deploy Ruby-based apps (Rails apps being a key example) before early 2008? FastCGI, proxying schemes, plain old CGI - it was all a bit of a mess. It was so bad, in fact, that in January 2008 we posted No True "mod_ruby" Is Damaging Ruby's Viability On The Web and kicked off a major discussion about it (115 comments!)

A couple of months later, an as-then unknown Dutch company called Phusion (headed by Ninh Bui and Hongli Lai) released mod_rails (a.k.a. Passenger), an Apache module that automatically handles server processes for Ruby apps and makes it a snap (just upload and touch a file) to deploy any Rack-based Ruby webapp with Apache - everyone has benefitted, including Sinatra, Merb and Ramaze development.

Phusion is now looking for help. They're a company but they essentially give away their two main products: Passenger and Ruby Enterprise Edition. You can pay for an "enterprise license" but it's really just a donation system. Now they're looking to specifically raise $14,000 to get the next version of Passenger out of the door. They're promising a lot - extended documentation, improved support and security, finalized Ruby 1.9 support, and, heck, too much to count.

Click here to lend your support to: Phusion Passenger first community sponsorship and make a donation at !

They have just $8,336 to go and if you want to help push forward the state of deploying Ruby-powered webapps, click here to donate (or read more about what they're achieving). All donors will be credited.

P.S. In May 2008, we ran 28 mod_rails / Passenger Resources to Help You Deploy Rails Applications Faster that you might like to revisit.

P.P.S. Update: Ruddy 'eck - it's only 24 hours on and it's down to just $2854.70 to go.. nice one guys!


  1. Sho says:

    Phusion's business model:

    1. make a popular apache mod
    2. give it away
    3. hope that someone takes notice and gives you a job
    4. they don't
    5. hold your userbase at ransom while you beg for $14,000 worth of paypal donations
    6. ????
    7. PROFIT!!!!!!!

  2. Peter Cooper says:

    It's pretty much guaranteed they'll be releasing the next version whether they raise the $14k or not ;-) I'm just hyping it up because I think they deserve it.

  3. Hongli Lai says:

    @Sho: Nothing is being held "ransom". If you look at the commit logs you'll see that we're writing documentation while the campaign is running.

  4. lolcatz says:

    Well, yes. They deserve it!

    Nevertheless, debgem sucks ass... which is sad.

  5. Hongli Lai says:

    @lolcatz: If have constructive criticism about Debgem then we'd be very much interested in hearing them.

  6. George McGrumble says:

    Well Sho might be one of those people for whom around every silver lining is a dark cloud. I'm going to make my donation in his name.

  7. Scott Becker says:

    Hongli Lai - Ignore the anonymous trolls, Phusion does excellent work and it shows. But you knew that. :)

  8. lolcatz says:

    Crap, that was troll in me. My apologies.

  9. Morgan Roderick says:

    Peter, thanks for turning our attention to this :-)

  10. Grzegorz Daniluk says:

    Phusion guys absolutely deserve to get paid for their excellent job.

  11. cbmeeks says:

    I'm using Phusion (mod_rails) and I love it. One thing that put me off on Rails a year or more ago was messing with Mongrels. I always thought that was insane. Especially since I came from the PHP world where setting up a PHP server takes all of 2 minutes.

    @Hongli Lai
    You will be getting a donation from me tonight. It won't be much due to financial constraints (private school is EXPENSIVE) but it should be something.

    Great job.

  12. Brazen says:

    I'm not using passenger yet. I still like using mongrels, and I'm holding out until passenger will render single rhtml files the way php will render a single php file, but with out the problems and lack of development of mod_ruby (no offense to shugo).

  13. Peter Cooper says:

    Brazen: Without actually doing it, it would be pretty easy to rig that up, I'd think. Passenger will serve anything Rack-wise, and you could write a Rack middleware in a handful of lines to do basic ERB rendering. It'd make a cool blog post actually..

  14. pjammer says:

    Peter, good article. I've been using passenger on my own VPS since August and if it wasn't for passenger, i'd still be trying to figure out mongrels and mongrel_clusters!
    Also peter, are you able to write an article or point out the differences between using passanger and mongrel_clusters? I've not looked into it, but why did we hear so much about needing mongrel_clusters about a year - 2 years ago, to now, we only need passanger? Would passanger ever need to be clustered? Simply an idea/question that i don't know how to answer, thought you may want to run with it.

    Hongli Lai - you guys do amazing work, and as many have said @#$% those that troll and tell you 'not to profit from it'. I don't see why you can't offer support, ala redhat model, or even better would be to charge for a ruby enterprise and passanger stack. just my two cents.

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