Back in my PHP days, I knew there was 2 main ways to serve a PHP site:

  • Apache + mod_php
  • Apache + FastCGI

* ok, actually is any webserver with FastCGI support on this last one (nginx, lighttpd, cherokee, and so on).

When I started in Rails, I found strange that no one recommends to use FastCGI or a mod_ruby solution. Instead, the community only talks about Phusion Passenger, Puma, and Unicorn. Phusion Passenger is a Apache module, just like mod_php (it is informally known as mod_rails). Passenger is the most recommended and used solution. But personally, at a first glance, I didn’t like Passenger – it’s a proprietary software with free and pay options. I don’t know, I think there’s a conflict of interest in cases like that.

The other 2 options, Puma and Unicorn, are like ruby interpreters with a built-in web server. You call them inside a rails project root folder and they will listen the port 80 (or one of your own), wait for web conections, run the rails code and answer to the browser – without apache, nginx, or any else.

Let’s suppose that you have 2 rails projects (sites) that you want to run simultaneously:

Now, on your browser, open http://localhost:9292 on a tab and http://localhost:9293 on another tab.

Wow! This is way much more easy than install and configure 3 softwares: apache, mod_php, php. But this also brings some problems: the most serious is “what if you want multiples sites in just one server?”. You can’t start 2 puma/unicorn servers on the same port (80).

I present here a way to use Apache + Puma, so you can have all the Apache conveniences, including the VirtualHosts and modules.


Our recipe:

1. Add puma to your Gemfile:

2. Install Puma gem:

3. Start your app via puma:

PS: you can start more than 1 process (with “-w “), and define the number min and max of threads per process (with “-t :“). This is good if you have more than 1 core processor. Example: “puma -e production -p 9292 -w 2 -t 4:32 -d” – this will start 2 processes and 4 threads per process (that will increase until 32).

4. Install mod_proxy and mod_proxy_http:

5. Edit your domain #1 configuration:

7. Enable your domain #1 and restart Apache:

PS: Notice the “ProxyPass” bypassing “assets” and “system”, so they won’t be processed by Ruby.


That’s it. You can add another site using another port (9293, 9294, and so on).

  • Gosh darn those slashes. Thanks for this!

  • genericid

    I’m still looking for an easy and up-to-date solution to just run a couple of Ruby lines embedded in HTML (served by Nginx). Nothing more, and without any additional Ruby webserver. Is there a quick and practical way to do it?

    • Daniel Loureiro

      have you tried “phusion passenger”? It’s a nginx module (there’s also an apache version) to “understand” ruby files directly, without puma, unicorn or any other extra webserver.

      • genericid

        That’s what I’m doing right now :) I’m going through the guides, and yes, being it an application server it replaces a ruby web app server, but I was talking about avoiding frameworks not just web app servers that come with them. For example I would just like to have one index.html file with some Ruby in it enclosed by . That’s all I am after…

    • Frank Booth

      It was called Common Gateway Interface (CGI) and is now out of favor with the new generation of web application programmers.

      In the other hand, Ruby ships with cgi.rb in stdlib.

      • genericid

        Fortunately I’ve found a great solution: https://github.com/migrs/rack-server-pages which does exactly what I was looking for.
        It might be an out of favor approach, but it’s invaluable for learning purposes! Also, sometime you effectively need just a minimum amount of dynamic functionality, and I don’t like being forced to use PHP for that just because it wouldn’t be worth it to involve Rails or even its smaller brother Sinatra.