Scott Hanselman

Ruby on Rails on Azure App Service (Web Sites) with Linux (and Ubuntu on Windows 10)

April 12, '17 Comments [11] Posted in Azure | Linux | Ruby
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Running Ruby on Rails on Windows has historically sucked. Most of the Ruby/Rails folks are Mac and Linux users and haven't focused on getting Rails to be usable for daily development on Windows. There have been some heroic efforts by a number of volunteers to get Rails working with projects like RailsInstaller, but native modules and dependencies almost always cause problems. Even more, when you go to deploy your Rails app you're likely using a Linux host so you may run into differences between operating systems.

Fast forward to today and Windows 10 has the Ubuntu-based "Linux Subsystem for Windows" (WSL) and the native bash shell which means you can run real Linux elf binaries on Windows natively without a Virtual you should do your Windows-based Rails development in Bash on Windows.

Ruby on Rails development is great on Windows 10 because you've Windows 10 handling the "windows" UI part and bash and Ubuntu handling the shell.

After I set it up I want to git deploy my app to Azure, easily.

Developing on Ruby on Rails on Windows 10 using WSL

Rails and Ruby folks can apt-get update and apt-get install ruby, they can install rbenv or rvm as they like. These days rbenv is preferred.

Once you have Ubuntu on Windows 10 installed you can quickly install "rbenv" like this within Bash. Here I'm getting 2.3.0.

~$ git clone ~/.rbenv
~$ echo 'export PATH="$HOME/.rbenv/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bashrc
~$ echo 'eval "$(rbenv init -)"' >> ~/.bashrc
~$ exec $SHELL
~$ git clone ~/.rbenv/plugins/ruby-build
~$ echo 'export PATH="$HOME/.rbenv/plugins/ruby-build/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bashrc
~$ exec $SHELL
~$ rbenv install 2.3.0
~$ rbenv global 2.3.0
~$ ruby -v
~$ gem install bundler
~$ rbenv reshash

Here's a screenshot mid-process on my SurfaceBook. This build/install step takes a while and hits the disk a lot, FYI.

Installing rbenv on Windows under Ubuntu

At this point I've got Ruby, now I need Rails, as well as NodeJs for the Rails Asset Pipeline. You can change the versions as appropriate.

@ curl -sL | sudo -E bash -
$ sudo apt-get install -y nodejs
$ gem install rails -v 5.0.1

You will likely also want either PostgresSQL or MySQL or Mongo, or you can use a Cloud DB like Azure DocumentDB.

When you're developing on both Windows and Linux at the same time, you'll likely want to keep your code in one place or the other, not both. I use the automatic mount point that WSL creates at /mnt/c so for this sample I'm at /mnt/c/Users/scott/Desktop/RailsonAzure which maps to a folder on my Windows desktop. You can be anywhere, just be aware of your CR/LF settings and stay in one world.

I did a "rails new ." and got it running locally. Here you can se Visual Studio Code with Ruby Extensions and my project open next to Bash on Windows.


After I've got a Rails app running and I'm able to develop cleanly, jumping between Visual Studio Code on Windows and the Bash prompt within Ubuntu, I want to deploy the app to the web.

Since this is a simple "Hello World" default rails app I can't deploy it somewhere where the Rails Environment is Production. There's no Route in routes.rb (the Yay! You're on Rails message is development-time only) and there's no SECRET_KEY_BASE environment variable set which is used to verify signed cookies. I'll need to add those two things. I'll change routes.rb quickly to just use the default Welcome page for this demo, like this:

Rails.application.routes.draw do
  # For details on the DSL available within this file, see
    get '/' => "rails/welcome#index"

And I'll add the SECRET_KEY_BASE in as an App Setting/ENV var in the Azure portal when I make my backend, below.

Deploying Ruby on Rails App to Azure App Service on Linux

From the New menu in the Azure portal, choose to Web App on Linux (in preview as of the time I wrote this) from the Web + Mobile option. This will make an App Service Plan that has an App within it. There are a bunch of application stacks you can use here including node.js, PHP, .NET Core, and Ruby.

NOTE: A few glossary and definition points. Azure App Service is the Azure PaaS (Platform as a Service). You run Web Apps on Azure App Service. An Azure App Service Plan is the underlying Virtual Machine (sall, medium, large, etc.) that hosts n number of App Services/Web Sites. I have 20 App Services/Web Sites running under a App Service Plan with a Small VM. By default this is Windows by can run Php, Python, Node, .NET, etc. In this blog post I'm using an App Service Plan that runs Linux and hosts Docker containers. My Rails app will live inside that App Service and you can find the Dockerfiles and other info here or use your own Docker image.

Here you can see my Azure App Service that I'll now deploy to using Git. I could also FTP.

Ruby on Rails on Azure

I went into Deployment OPtions and setup a local (to Azure) git repro. Now I can see that under Overview.


On my local bash I add azure as a remote. This can be set up however your workflow is setup. In this case, Git is FTP for code.

$ git add remote azure
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "initial"
$ git push azure master

This starts the deployment as the code is pushed to Azure.

Azure deploying the Rails app

IMPORTANT: I will also add "RAILS_ENV= production" and a SECRET_KEY_BASE=to my Azure Application Settings. You can make a new secret with "rake secret."

If I'm having trouble I can turn on Application Logging, Web Server Logging, and Detailed Error Messages under Diagnostic Logs then FTP into the App Service and look at the logs.

FTPing into Azure to look at logs

This is all in Preview so you'll likely run into issues. They are updating the underlying systems very often. Some gotchas I hit:

  • Deploying/redeploying requires an explicit site restart, today. I hear that'll be fixed soon.
  • I had to dig log files out via FTP. They are going to expose logs in the portal.
  • I used the Kudu "sidecar" site at to get shell access to the Kudu container, but I'd like to be able to ssh into or get to access to the actual running container from the Azure Portal one day.

That said, if you'd like more internal details on how this works, you can watch a session from Connect() last year with developer Nazim Lala. Thanks to James Christianson for his debugging help!

Sponsor: Did you know VSTS can integrate closely with Octopus Deploy? Watch Damian Brady and Brian A. Randell as they show you how to automate deployments from VSTS to Octopus Deploy, and demo the new VSTS Octopus Deploy dashboard widget. Watch now

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Running the Ruby Middleman Static Site Generator on Microsoft Azure

February 24, '15 Comments [17] Posted in Azure | Open Source | Ruby
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Middleman is "a static site generator using all the shortcuts and tools in modern web development." With any static site generator you can run it all locally and then push/FTP/whatever the resulting HTML to any host. However, static site generators are even more fun when you can host the source code in Git and have your static site build and deploy in the cloud.

Middleman uses Ruby for its build system and views, and some of the Gems it uses are native gems. That means if you are a Windows user, your system will need not just Ruby, but the Ruby DevKit so you can build those native gems. The DevKit is a lovely set of tools that "makes it easy to build and use native C/C++ extensions such as RDiscount and RedCloth for Ruby on Windows."

Azure Websites supports not just ASP.NET today, but also node.js, PHP, Python, and Java, all built in. But not Ruby, directly, yet. Also, Azure Websites doesn't know formally about the idea of a static site generator. You might be thinking, oh, this'll be hard, I'll need to use a VM and do this myself.

However, even though Azure Websites are totally "platform as a service" there's still a Windows Virtual Machine underneath, and you can use the disk space however you like. You've got a LOT of control and can even get a hold of a console where you can run commands and install stuff. The Azure Portal lets you open a command line from your website.

The New Azure Portal

Check me out, here in the new Azure Portal. This is where I did my practice work to see if I could programmatically download and install Ruby via a script. I tried a number of different commands, all from the browser, and explored a number of ideas. When I got it working, I put together a batch file called GetRuby. I could have also used a shell script or PowerShell, but Batch was easy given what I was doing.

ASIDE: You may recognize that console from this video I did about the "Super Secret Debug Console" in Azure. It's not so secret now, it's a feature.  There is still a cool debug "sidecar" website for every Azure site, it's at but now a version of the console is in the portal as well.

Azure Websites uses an open source project called Kudu to deploy from locations with source like Github. Kudu supports custom deployment scripts where you can jump in and do whatever you like (within the limits of the security sandbox)

Basically I needed to do these things before running Middleman on my source:

  • Ensure Ruby is installed and in the path.
  • Ensure the DevKit (which includes native compilers, etc) is installed
  • Initialize and setup DevKit for builds
  • Update RubyGems to 2.2.3 until the Windows version of Ruby has this included
  • Install eventmachine 1.0.7, a problematic gem on Windows
  • Run the Ruby Bundler's update
  • Install Middleman

And then, every deployment run the Middleman static site generator.

  • Middleman build

The first part is a one time thing for a new website. I just need to make sure Ruby is around and in the path. The second part is what runs every time a source file for my static site generator is checked in. It runs middleman build. Then at the very end, Kudu takes the results from the /build folder and moves them to /wwwroot, which makes the changes live.

Here's an annotated part of the first bit, but the actual file is on GitHub. Note that I'm putting stuff in %temp% for speed. Turns out %temp% a local drive, so it's a few times faster than using the main drive, which makes this deployment faster. However, it's cleared out often, so if I wanted things to be persistent but slower to deploy, I'd put them in D:\deployments\tools. As it is, the deploy is fast (less than a minute) when Ruby is there, and just about 3 minutes to get and setup Ruby when it's not. The exists check handles the case when a deploy happens but %temp% has been cleared so it'll get Ruby again.

NOTE: If this seems confusing or complex, it's because I like to give folks LOTS of detail. But just look at my repository. All we have is a standard "Middleman init" site plus the Azure-generator deploy.cmd and my getruby.cmd. That's all you need, plus a Basic Azure Website. The getruby.cmd is my automating what you'd have to any way on a Windows machine without Ruby.

REM Note that D:\local\temp is a LOCAL drive on Azure, and very fast
SET PATH=%PATH%;D:\local\temp\r\ruby-2.1.5-x64-mingw32\bin

pushd %temp%
REM If you need things to be persistent, then put them elsewhere, not in TEMP
if not exist r md r
cd r
if exist ruby-2.1.5-x64-mingw32 goto end

echo No Ruby, need to get it!

REM Get 64-bit Ruby
curl -o
ECHO START Unzipping Ruby. 7Zip is already on Azure Websites
REM Note Azure deployments run faster with 7Zip not spewing so much. Redirect to a file.
d:\7zip\7za x -y > out

REM Get DevKit to build Ruby native gems
REM If you don't need DevKit for your Gems, rem this out.
curl -o
ECHO START Unzipping DevKit
d:\7zip\7za x -y -oDevKit > out
ECHO DONE Unzipping DevKit

ruby DevKit\dk.rb init

REM Tell DevKit where Ruby is
echo --- > config.yml
echo - d:/local/temp/r/ruby-2.1.5-x64-mingw32 >> config.yml

REM Setup DevKit
ruby DevKit\dk.rb install

REM Update Gem223 until someone fixes the Ruby Windows installer
curl -L -o update.gem
call gem install --local update.gem
call update_rubygems --no-ri --no-rdoc > updaterubygemsout
ECHO What's our new Rubygems version?
call gem --version
call gem uninstall rubygems-update -x

REM This is needed on Windows, why is this gem such a problem?
ECHO Install eventmachine 1.0.7
call gem install eventmachine -v '1.0.7' --no-ri --no-rdoc > updateventmachineout

call bundle update

ECHO Install middleman...the whole point!
call gem install middleman --no-ri --no-rdoc


call middleman build

REM KuduSync and actual /build to /wwwroot is after this in deploy.cmd!

And in the Deploy.cmd all I needed to change was this under SETUP. This is where YOU can do whatever you like. Note since I'm using Batch, I need to put CALL in front of other Batch files (and Ruby uses them also!) otherwise my script will just end early.


call getruby.cmd


Then later, still in Deploy.cmd, I just added \build to the source directory name.

call :ExecuteCmd "%KUDU_SYNC_CMD%" -v 50 -f "%DEPLOYMENT_SOURCE%\build" -t "%DEPLOYMENT_TARGET%" -n "%NEXT_MANIFEST_PATH%" -p "%PREVIOUS_MANIFEST_PATH%" -i ".git;.hg;.deployment;deploy.cmd"

And that's it.  Now whenever I updated my views or other things in my Middleman source on GitHub, it automatically deploys to my live site.

Yes, again, to be clear, I realize it's a static site generator that I could run locally and FTP the results, but I'm working in a small team and this is a great way for us to collaborate on our static site. Plus, when it's done, it's all done and I don't have to mess with it again.

Middleman Static Site Generator on Azure

Debugging Custom Azure Website Deployments

I thought debugging my GetRuby batch file was going to be a nightmare. However, it turns out that the Azure cross-platform command line (the Azure x-plat CLI, open source, and written in nodejs, BTW) can connect to Azure's log streaming service. "Azure Site Log Tail" lets me see the LIVE console output as the deploy happens!

Azure Site Log Tail

Now, note that the need for this whole "getruby.bat" file totally goes away if the Azure Websites folks start including Ruby and DevKit in the Azure Websites VM image by default. That would make Ruby, Rails, Gems, DevKit, etc. available to everyone. Do you want Ruby on Azure? Do you care? Sound off in the comments!

HELP: The batch file could use more testing, especially for robustness as well as Ruby-correctness as I'm likely confused about a few things, but it works for me and it's a great start. Sometimes different native gems don't build, though, or Gems complains about conflicting versions and asks me to run Bundler. I have no idea why. Running things twice clears it. It's either my bug or someone else's. :)

I'm just happy that Azure Websites is as flexible as it is that I was able to console into it from the browser, look around, add my own custom deployment hook, and do something I initially didn't think was possible!

Give Azure Websites a try FOR FREE, no signup, no credit card for an hour in a sandbox with PHP, Node, ASP.NET, or Java at (Full Disclosure, I helped a little with this site, so I'm a fan.)

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Announcing: Running Ruby on Rails on IIS8 (or anything else, really) with the new HttpPlatformHandler

February 9, '15 Comments [23] Posted in IIS | Ruby
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For years there's been numerous hacks and ways to get Ruby on Rails to run on IIS. There's also ways to get Java via Tomcat or Jetty, Go, and other languages and environments to run as well. There's ways to get Node.JS running on IIS using iisnode but that's been node-specific. The blog posts you do find say things like "get Rails to run on IIS in 10 steps" and I'm like JUST TEN?!? Why not 13? Others say "You can deploy Rails under IIS, it's just very difficult and there's not a lot of documentation. You'll need a special Fast-CGI implementation...WELCOME TO HELL."

No longer.

Azure Websites has supported node AND Java (again, Tomcat or Jetty) for a while now, in production and it's very nice and it runs under IIS. How? They've now brought that support to Windows running IIS 8+ with the release of the HttpPlatformHandler. Here's their example on how to get IIS 8+ running Java, easily.

Let's see if this works well with Ruby on Rails as well!

Why is HttpPlatformHandler interesting? Check this from the means IIS can host anything that runs on Windows now, easily. These things were possible before, but with all kinds of hacks and FastCGI this and that. What's great about HttpPlatformHandler is that it isn't about Rails. It's about any process that's listening on a port. You get all the value of IIS *and* total control of your self-hosting scenario.

The HttpPlatformHandler is an IIS Module, for IIS 8+, which does the following two things:

  1. Process management of http listeners - this could be any process that can listen on a port for http requests.  For example - Tomcat, Jetty, Node.exe, Ruby etc;
  2. Proxy requests to the process that it manages.

To be clear, you can work with Ruby on Rails on Windows and have it host itself with WEBrick locally, but if you're going to go production on Windows you'll want to have IIS and more likely, jRuby in a Tomcat container, similar to using Nginx on linux. What value does IIS provide in a scenario like this? Static file hosting, Reverse Proxy, complex auth that can span multiple apps, languages and frameworks, it monitors and manages your process looking at memory and CPU, crashes, etc.

Running Ruby on Rails on IIS 8 with the HttpPlatformHandler

First make sure you have Ruby on Rails. If you do, skip forward.

I use the for Windows and go. You'll get Ruby, Rails, Bundler, Sqlite, and TinyTDS. Even SQL Server support. Very kind of them. Another good Rails on Windows on is RailsFTW.

I go to Turn Windows Features On and Off to make sure I have IIS installed as well.

Turn on IIS in Windows Features

Then get the HttpPlatformHandler. You can get it with the Web Platform Installer, or just install it from here: x86/x64

I make a folder for the app I'm going to make. I put it in c:\inetpub\wwwroot\rails but you can move it around if you like.

Make sure your Rails app is an application in IIS

I right-click my folder in IIS Manager and "Convert to Application."

My Rails application in IIS

I run "gem install rails" to make sure I have Rails in the first place. ;) You will if you installed with the RailsInstaller. If you installed with the RubyInstaller, then this will get you Rails.

NOTE: If you have issues with SSL running gem on Windows, you'll need manually to update gem to 2.2.3 as of the time of this writing. I'm not sure why this isn't already done by the installer. The symptom I saw was weird errors on 'bundle install' that was fixed by this.

Installing Rails

Then, from inside c:\inetpub\wwwroot\rails, I ran "rails new helloworld." I ended up moving this folder up. I should have just made the app first, then converted the folder to an app in IIS. Order of operations and all that, eh?

OK, now I'll "rails server" from within c:\inetpub\wwwroot\rails, just to make sure Rails can run under the local WEBrick server. And it does:

Rails on Windows

Now, let's do it under IIS.

I need to make sure there's a web.config file in the same root folder as my Rails app. WHAT?!? Web.config is for ASP.NET, right? Well, no. It's config for any IIS application. You'll need this for Go, Java, PHP, Rails, node, ASP.NET, whatever. IIS can host basically anything.

Lemme add a hello world controller and edit its view. I'll "rails generate controller welcome index" then edit app\views\welcome\index.html.erb for good measure.

I put my Rails app under http://localhost/rails rather than at the root http://localhost so I did need to tell Rails 4 about the fact it's running in a subdirectory with a change to /, otherwise my routes wouldn't line up.

Rails.application.config.relative_url_root = '/rails'

map Rails.application.config.relative_url_root || "/" do
  run Rails.application

Make special note of the paths below AND the encoded " there in the arguments. That's important, because it's a quoted argument passed into the ruby.exe process that IIS will kick off. Note also the %HTTP_PLATFORM_PORT% environment variable reference. That is passed in by IIS and will be a localhost-bound high port.

I also put in foo and bar for theoretical environment variables you might want your Rails app to know about. For example, I might add:

<environmentVariable name="RAILS_ENV" value="production"/>

...when it's time. I put in some standard debug logging there with the "stdout" but you can remove that if you don't want the clutter. Make sure your IISR_ users have write access to the folders if you want to see any logs.

WARNING/DISCLAIMER: This first example is just showing you what's possible. You DON'T want to go to production with the little built-in Ruby WEBrick web server. As Fabio Akita very kindly points out in the comments, and I'll pull his comment out here:

"One thing to be careful with the example using Rails. When running Ruby for Windows, when you run "rails server" it's going to spawn a single process that's mono-threaded, meaning that it can only respond to 1 request at a time. If IIS starts receiving too many requests simultaneously and each request is slow, it's going to generate a long queue until they start timing out.
In Linux we put NGINX to reverse-proxy HTTP requests to Unicorn, or Puma, or Rainbows, or Passenger. They all coordinate multiple Ruby processes (which in Unix, is very cheap as each process reuses memory from it's parent process upon forking - copy-on-write memory). So we can handle simultaneous requests."

You'd want to use JRuby and Tomcat with Puma under IIS for production on Windows.

KEEP SCROLLING FOR EXAMPLES USING JRuby, Trinidad/Tomcat, and Puma! They are farther down the page.

Also, on slower machines when running in development, you might need to up your startupTimeLimit if you are seeing IIS stop your Ruby processes that take to long to startup.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<add name="httpplatformhandler" path="*" verb="*" modules="httpPlatformHandler" resourceType="Unspecified" requireAccess="Script" />
<httpPlatform stdoutLogEnabled="true" stdoutLogFile="rails.log" startupTimeLimit="20" processPath="c:\RailsInstaller\Ruby2.1.0\bin\ruby.exe"
arguments="&quot;C:\RailsInstaller\Ruby2.1.0\bin\rails&quot; server -p %HTTP_PLATFORM_PORT% -b">
<environmentVariable name="foo" value="bar"/>

Here's a screenshot of Ruby within the SysInternals Process Explorer application. I wanted to show you this so you could see the Process Tree and see who started which process. You can see w3wp (that's IIS) which is a Service, and it's hosting Ruby, running Rails. Make note of the command line arguments as well.


And here it is. Ruby on Rails 4 running under IIS8 on my Windows 8 machine.

Ruby on Rails on IIS on Windows

Big thanks to Ranjith Ramachandra (@ranjithtweets) and Andrew Westgarth (@apwestgarth) at Microsoft for the help with the web.config values!


So, basically, to give you the TL;DR version, except at the end. When you have IIS, install HttpPlatformHandler and add a web.config as appropriate and you're all set. Run what you like, passing in the port that IIS will proxy to.

UPDATE: Puma and Trinidad (with Tomcat) on IIS

As pointed out in the comments, it's silly to use WEBrick in Production. Don't'.

I'm told JRuby is the way to go for prod. I was able to install JRuby and both Trinidad (with Tomcat) and Puma and get my HelloWorld running under IIS in an hour.

Here's Trinidad (I'm told Trinidad is out of vogue, however). I did a "JRuby -S gem install trinidad" and was on my way.

Note the JAVA_HOME environment variable setting. I also had to update some security policy files due to a "Illegal key size" error which was a Javaism. Otherwise, it just worked once the paths lined up. If you see problem, it'll be path related or you'll be loading the wrong Java version. Also, experiment but you don't really need to mess with processesPerApplications. If you create a lot of individual processes, Java can take up a lot of memory (300megs or so) per process and you can thrash your system.y

You'll get 10x the perf when running under production, so note I'm explicitly running in the prod environment.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<add name="httpplatformhandler" path="*" verb="*" modules="httpPlatformHandler" resourceType="Unspecified" requireAccess="Script" />
<httpPlatform stdoutLogEnabled="false" processesPerApplication="1" stdoutLogFile="rails.log" startupTimeLimit="20" processPath="C:\jruby-1.7.19\bin\jruby.exe"
arguments="-S trinidad --context /jRubyonRails --env production --dir C:\inetpub\wwwroot\jRubyonRails -p %HTTP_PLATFORM_PORT% ">
<environmentVariable name="JAVA_HOME" value="C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.8.0_31"/>

And it works. I was easily able to get 1600+ req/sec on my laptop with minimal effort. I'm sure I could do better with some tuning and a better machine.

JRuby on Rails using Trinidad behind IIS8 with the HttpPlatformHandler

OK, let's swap out Trindad/Tomcat for Puma. I put Puma in the Gemfile and did "bundle exec puma" to test. That worked. Now I need to hook it into IIS. I also had to add gem 'jruby-openssl', :require => false to  my Gemfile to avoid some weird errors.

Basically it was the same thing, as IIS is the reverse proxy and process manager in this case.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<add name="httpplatformhandler" path="*" verb="*" modules="httpPlatformHandler" resourceType="Unspecified" requireAccess="Script" />
<httpPlatform stdoutLogEnabled="false" processesPerApplication="1" stdoutLogFile="rails.log" startupTimeLimit="20" processPath="C:\jruby-1.7.19\bin\jruby.exe"
arguments="-S puma --env production --dir C:\inetpub\wwwroot\jRubyonRails -p %HTTP_PLATFORM_PORT% ">
<environmentVariable name="JAVA_HOME" value="C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.8.0_31"/>

I'm using just 1 processPerApplication and I'm getting 1500 req/s easily. I don't know anything about Puma or JRuby but I assume it can do better if I knew how to tune it.

Load testing JRuby on Windows under IIS

I tested without IIS against Puma itself and saw essentially the same results. IIS has minimal overhead that I can't measure in this case and you get its process management and other benefits. If you're having issues with perf doing this kind of stuff, it's unlikely it will be IIS.

JRuby on Rails using Puma with the HttpPlatformHandler

All in all, the HttpPlatformHandler just maybe the reverse proxy you've always wanted for Windows!

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Hanselminutes Podcast 197 - The Dynamic Language Runtime, IronRuby and IronPython with Jimmy Schementi

February 4, '10 Comments [1] Posted in DLR | Podcast | Python | Ruby
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image My one-hundred-and-ninety-seventh podcast is up. Scott sits down with Jimmy Schementi to find out what's the scoop with the DLR. Is it baked? What do I need to do to get started? What's the status of IronRuby - is it done? Will IronPython be a first class language or is it already? All these questions and more will be answered.

Subscribe: Subscribe to Hanselminutes Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

Download: MP3 Full Show

Links from the Show

Do also remember the complete archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Telerik is our sponsor for this show.

Check out their UI Suite of controls for ASP.NET. It's very hardcore stuff. One of the things I appreciate aboutTelerik is their commitment tocompleteness. For example, they have a page about their Right-to-Left support while some vendors have zero support, or don't bother testing. They also are committed to XHTML compliance and publish their roadmap. It's nice when your controls vendor is very transparent.

As I've said before this show comes to you with the audio expertise and stewardship of Carl Franklin. The name comes from Travis Illig, but the goal of the show is simple. Avoid wasting the listener's time. (and make the commute less boring)

Enjoy. Who knows what'll happen in the next show?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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The Weekly Source Code 29 - Ruby and Shoes and the First Ruby Virus

June 24, '08 Comments [11] Posted in Ruby | Source Code
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I was in Norway last week at the Norwegian Developers Conference, so I'm afraid the Weekly Source Code is the bi-weekly source code this month. It's amazing how international travel can really slow a body down. This trip just obliterated me. I'm slowly coming back to the world of the living, though.

I've been getting more and more interested in how folks extend their applications using plugins and things. In my new ongoing quest to read source code to be a better developer, Dear Reader, I present to you twenty-ninth in a infinite number of posts of "The Weekly Source Code."

This week's source is a clever "ClickOnce"-style hack for Ruby. It's cool because it brings together a number of technologies into a very clean end-user experience. The intent is to make the running of a Ruby GUI Application effortless, and it works and it's brilliant on several levels. Thanks to Sam Saffron for pointing me to it!

To start out, it's a hack says the author why the lucky stiff (or "_why" for short), so it's very early and there's bugs. You can check out the code on GitHub: or clone the whole tree using git via "git clone git://"


Ruby is a very aesthetically (to me) pleasing and flexible language. Shoes is a GUI Toolkit for making Windowing Applications using Ruby. I mentioned it back in TWSC12. Shoes is legendary for a number of reasons, but above all, it has the greatest API documentation in the history of all software documentation. The main book on Shoes Development called "nobody knows shoes" is fantastic. Even Chris Sells likes it!

Here's part of an example phone book application written in Ruby and Shoes): :width => 320, :height => 350 do

stack :margin => 40 do
stack :margin => 10 do
para "Name"
@name = list_box :items => ["Yes, please!", "NO. No thankyou."]
stack :margin => 10 do
para "Address"
@address = edit_line
stack :margin => 10 do
para "Phone"
@phone = edit_line
stack :margin => 10 do
button "Save" do
Shoes.p [@name.text, @address.text, @phone.text]

It feels a lot like Tcl/Tk or Rebol. It'll be interesting to see if someone writes a mainstream application that is non-trivial. Shoes works on XP, Vista, MacOSX and Linux. Do note that you'll need to right click and run it as Administrator on Vista as _why hasn't put in an elevation prompt yet. You'll need Admin to do the initial bootstrap install.

However, in order to get Shoes to work, before today, you had to install Ruby, then get the Shoes libraries installed, usually via a gem. Then you'd need to run your app via ruby.exe yourapp.rb or a shortcut you'd setup.  The second comment on _why's blog post announcement says it all:

"Wow, this is super. We can actually give our apps to other people now :)"

Here's an explanation from _why on how the Shoes "bootstrapper" (my word) works:

If you poke around with a hex editor inside Windows’ PE binary format, you’ll find an .rsrc section at the end of the file which contains the icons and dialog boxes. I insert the Ruby script into this mess.
binj ="blank.exe")
binj.inject("SHOES_FILENAME", "simple-accordion.rb")"simple-accordion.rb") do |f|
  binj.inject("SHOES_PAYLOAD", f)

Fantastic hack. He shoves the Ruby script into a Windows Resource! He does the same thing for DMG (Disk Images) on Mac OSX, so you can create Ruby scripts that are portable to these two platforms.

When it runs, it checks for the existence of Shoes on your system. It's in C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Shoes\. If Shoes (which includes a private copy of Ruby) is not there, it's downloaded and installed, and then your app runs. Bam, one-click cross-platform GUIs.

I'm not clear what the security ramifications are. Well, I am. I suspect there is no security that isn't already provided by the host operating system. Once you're running, the Ruby script has full control to do whatever it likes, so I suppose someone could write a malicious program just as they could write a malicious .NET app if they liked.

You can package your apps just by running shoes --package and you'll get this dialog. You can chose to include Shoes and Ruby inside the resulting EXE if you like.


Shoes also supports custom "Widgets." For example, here's a custom Speedometer control.

Shoes (2)

The code for the entire app, including the custom control is this:

class Speedometer < Widget
attr_accessor :range, :tick, :position
def initialize opts = {}
@range = opts[:range] || 200
@tick = opts[:tick] || 10
@position = opts[:position] || 0
@cx, @cy = self.left + 110, + 100

rect :top =>, :left => self.left,
:width => 220, :height => 200
stroke white
oval :left => @cx - 50, :top => @cy - 50, :radius => 100
(ticks + 1).times do |i|
radial_line 225 + ((270.0 / ticks) * i), 70..80
radial_line 225 + ((270.0 / ticks) * i), 45..49
strokewidth 2
oval :left => @cx - 70, :top => @cy - 70, :radius => 140
stroke lightgreen
oval :left => @cx - 5, :top => @cy - 5, :radius => 10
@needle = radial_line 225 + ((270.0 / @range) * @position), 0..90
def ticks; @range / @tick end
def radial_line deg, r
pos = ((deg / 360.0) * (2.0 * Math::PI)) - (Math::PI / 2.0)
line (Math.cos(pos) * r.begin) + @cx, (Math.sin(pos) * r.begin) + @cy,
(Math.cos(pos) * r.end) + @cx, (Math.sin(pos) * r.end) + @cy
def position= pos
@position = pos
append do
@needle = radial_line 225 + ((270.0 / @range) * @position), 0..90
end do
stack do
para "Enter a number between 0 and 100"
flow do
@p = edit_line
button "OK" do
@s.position = @p.text.to_i

@s = speedometer :range => 100, :ticks => 10

It's about 24 megs of libraries on disk when you're done, but you've got multimedia support and a lot of great library support in that space, not to mention a copy of Ruby itself. The download is only 2.5M bare or 6.8M with Video support.

I think it'd be great to build a Twitter Client using Shoes. The race is on! Hopefully we'll be able to get a Twitter Client done before some schmuck writes a Ruby Shoes virus. I for one, will be keeping the Ruby Shoes virus I wrote to myself. Well, not really a virus as it's a self propagating annoyance. But still. :)

It'll be fun to watch how this evolves. I hope there will be a clean upgrade process. If you want to try running your first Ruby/Shoes app, then run this EXE if you've got Windows or this DMG if you're on a Mac to see a basic demo application, but more importantly, to experience in the installer/bootstrapping process.

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.