but then I was like „Oh Yeah! LOL!“

Getting Started With Torquebox 2.x for Fun and Profit

I am a big fan of jRuby and I have been aware of the Torquebox Application Server for some time now but until recently never found the time to take it on a test drive on Vagrant and on Amazon’s EC2. Because I wasn’t familiar with the JBoss Application Server on what Torquebox is based on I ran into some problems and hopefully this blogpost will enable you to have a Rails 3.1 test application up and running a lot quicker than I did.

Getting started on Vagrant

Ryan Bates of the famous Railscasts featured Vagrant on one of his last episodes. In essence it’s a way to try out your production set-up for your application without the hassle to start up a server instance on any cloud provider. It is also possible to provision your instances with tools like chef but that’s not what this blogpost is about.

For a quick overview what Vagrant offers I suggest you go watch the screencast first. I had problems to start up the box Ryan uses in his screencast, but with another one everything worked as expected. After downloading the box setting running vagrant ist pretty easy. Just go to your app’s directory and type:

vagrant init ubuntu-1104-server-i386
vagrant up
vagrant ssh

On the server

From this point on the steps to getting torquebox to run on EC2 and Vagrant are exactly the same, that’s the point of Vagrant after all. On EC2 you have to start an Ubuntu instance of course. I usually use the alestic AMIs.

First we update our sources:

sudo apt-get update

I wanted to install jRuby with rvm so I had to install git and ruby first to run rvm (Ruby Version Manager). Additionally we have to install some kind of jdk to install jruby. I choose openjdk-6. Openjdk-7 should work as well I guess. See for Installation instructions but actually it’s just another package that you install with apt-get.

sudo apt-get install git-core ruby openjdk-6-jre

With that we are all set to install rvm and jruby.

bash < <(curl -s

After rvm is installed we have to reload our bashrc to be able to use rvm.

source .bashrc

Now to install jruby

rvm install jruby

After the installation is completed we want to use jruby and we will create a global gemset that torquebox will use (see the official Torquebox blog ).

rvm use jruby
rvm gemset create torquebox
rvm use jruby-1.6.5@torquebox --default

The default flag ensures we are using jruby with the torquebox gemset everytime we log into the machine.

Torquebox 2.x is available as a gem and we want to make use of this. Installing Torquebox consums a lot of system memory so we have to specify that the install has access to more memory than it has with the default settings.

jruby -J-Xmx1024m -S gem install torquebox-server --pre --source

Instead of LATEST you could specify any build.

jruby -J-Xmx1024m -S gem install torquebox-server --pre --source

With LATEST you will just get the last CI-Build of Torquebox. You have to take this into account when using our Gemfile later on.

Well and that’s about everything there is to installing torquebox.

Preparing your application for deployment on Torquebox

You have to take to ensure your application is deployable to Torquebox. Torquebox provides templates for this (you can read more about that here). The template resides in your torquebox-gem’s folder. You can set a $TORQUEBOX_HOME variable temporarily to make it easier to access the template.

TORQUEBOX_HOME=$(torquebox env torquebox_home)
rails new myapp -m $TORQUEBOX_HOME/share/rails/template.rb

To adapt an existing application please refer to the torquebox documentation.

Deploying and running an application on Torquebox

Deploying a (torquebox ready) application on Torquebox couldn’t be simpler. Just change into your application’s directory and run:

bundle install
torquebox deploy
torquebox run

I had several problems to get my test application to run with torquebox. Every single one was my own fault and was due to my lack of understanding of the underlining JBoss-Server or different behaviour of Rails on Ubuntu compared to MacOS.

First of all Ubuntu does not come with a Javascript-runtime which is needed to run a Rails 3.1 application. Ryan talks about that in his screencast but his workaround to install ‘therubyracer’-gem won’t work for a jruby-environment. There is actually a special javascript-gem for jruby, called ‘therubyrhino’. Specify this in your app’s Gemfile instead of ‘therubyracer’.

group :linux do
gem 'therubyrhino'

Accessing your application from localhost (Vagrant)

Vagrant provides a way to access your VirtualBox-Instances from your localhost. Ryan talks about it on his Railscasts-Episode. You can configure Vagrant to forward ports from your virtual-instance to localhost in your Vagrantfile, Vagrant creates with the vagrant init command in your app’s directory.

JBoss and Torquebox are accessible through port 8080 as default so we have to specify port-forwarding for this port:

config.vm.forward_port "torquebox", 8080, 8080

This should make your vagrant instance accessible through the address localhost:8080. You can specify any port you want

config.vm.forward_port "torquebox", 8080, 3000

Would make port 8080 of your vagrant-instance accessible throug localhost:3000 in your browser.

Unfortunately this won’t work for Torquebox. You have to bind Torquebox to to make it accessible via the above-mentioned Vagrant feature.

torquebox deploy <your app directory>
torquebox run -b

Now everything should work as expected.

Deploying your application to EC2

The steps to get running on EC2 are nearly the same as on Vagrant. The only thing you have to remember is that port 8080 does not accept inbound connections on EC2’s default security group. You have to open this port and you have to open port 22(ssh) to be able to log into the instance if your using a custom security group.

When running the application from EC2 you also have to bind it to Binding to an Elastic-IP won’t work.

Other major problems

I don’t know if I am the only one who was not aware of the fact that though on MacOS Ruby’s require statement is NOT case sensitive but on Ubuntu it is. I tried to require the ruby-geocoder in my test-application and

require 'Geocoder'

was fine on my development machine but on Ubuntu hell broke lose because rails wasn’t able to locate my geocoder gem though it was installed. On Ubuntu you really have to require case sensitive.

require 'geocoder'

Keep that in mind and spare yourself hours of digging around.

Using Social Media Icons in a LaTeX Document

Recently I wrote a letter of application to a local software firm. With my letter of application I sent a CV and because I was applying for a position as a Ruby/Rails/Web developer writing the application in Word or Pages was not an option and geek cred aside, in my opinion everything of importance you write should be written in LaTeX just because it looks a lot nicer than your everyday WYSIWYG-Editor.

Latex a beautiful thing.

I ended up using moderncv (the classic version) for my cv and scrlttr2 out of komascript for my application letter.

moderncv comes with a header by default where you can put your contact information.

default moderncv header

I thought it would be nice to also put my GitHub and Twitter account data in the header. With corresponding icons of course. Surprisingly despite its serious degree of awesome LaTeX does not support GitHub or Twitter icons out of the box so I had to find a way to insert them manually.

Turns out that’s pretty simple. LaTeX supports a way to include images and even vector graphics in text inline. You just have to specify which image you want to insert and the respective font-size to make it look seamless.

Assuming you have a font-size of 12pt in your text and want to include github’s octocat (saved as octocatvector.eps) and a link to your github repository:

github-icon inline
\includegraphics[height=12pt]{octocatvector.eps}~<link to your github repository>

My result looks like this.

result moderncv

That’s really everything there is to it. You can do this with any image, LaTeX will scale it to any size you specify but naturally vector graphics will be the best option because you can scale them without loss of quality.

Here’s what my document looks like when zoomed in very close to my github-line.

result scaled

Firstiwaslike: A Primer

Everyone who has tried to achieve something with programming a computer knows the feeling when you want to do something with or you have deal with a technology that is new to you. Most of the time you have to get your head around a new way of thinking, a new tool, an unfamiliar API, code that someone else has written or a new programming syntax and at first most likely your feelings come close to the feeling the kitten on the left expresses in the picture below.

First I was like?! Then I loled!

But after some time occupying yourself with the new unknown most of the time you get it. And you’re like „Oh Yeah! LOL!“. Like the kitten on the right.

This blog is about my „Oh Yeah! LOL!“-moments. Have fun!