How-to: Setup MySQL and RoR on AWS


When I wrote this, I misunderstood the AWS pricing models when I was originally putting this together. The following configuration would run you about $8 per month for the first year and around $16 per month each following year. Please see Amazon's AWS Pricing page for details.


I have been working on setting up RoR with MySQL on an AWS instance and ran in to some oddities, so I decided to document the steps I took and lay it all out real nice and pretty.

First, these are some details about the setup I wanted

  • MySQL on it's own host
  • RoR app on it's own host
  • ruby 1.9.2p280
  • git
  • sans rvm
  • bundler with gems installed in an app specific vendor/bundle director
  • AMI: ubuntu/images/ebs/ubuntu-oneiric-11.10-amd64-server-20120222 (ami-baba68d3)
    • I used this for both the mysql and application host


  1. You've already created the AWS images.
  2. MySQL host: mysql.hostname
  3. App Host: app.hostname
  4. Username: myuser
  5. Project name: project

Prep your AWS images

For both machines, I create a new user, as not to use 'ubuntu' or 'root' as my main user.

desktop~$ ssh -i ~/.ssh/my_aws.pem [email protected]<aws_host>
awshost~$ sudo su -
awshost~$ useradd -G sudo -m -r --shell /bin/bash myuser \
   && mkdir -p /home/myuser/.ssh \
   && cp /home/ubuntu/.ssh/authorized_keys /home/myuser/.ssh/ \
   && chown -R myuser: /home/myuser/.ssh \
   && passwd myuser
... enter new password ...
awshost~$ exit
desktop~$ ssh -i ~/.ssh/my_aws.pem [email protected]<aws_host>
awshost~$ sudo userdel ubuntu


Install MySQL:

$ sudo apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client
... output omitted ...

Setup MySQL's basic permissions:

$ sudo mysqladmin -u root -h localhost password 'password'
... output omitted ...
$ mysql -u root -p
... output omitted ...
mysql> GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON *.* TO 'myuser'@'%' 
     > IDENTIFIED BY "password";
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> exit

Update MySQL config to allow for external connectivity:

$ sudo vi /etc/mysql/my.cnf

Change: bind-address = To: bind-address = <your ip address>

Update iptables:

$ sudo /sbin/iptables -A INPUT -i eth0 -p tcp --destination-port 3306 -j ACCEPT
$ sudo iptables-save
$ sudo iptables-apply
$ sudo service mysql restart

You should now be able to connect to mysql.hostname from an external mysql client... desktop~$ mysql -u myuser -h mysql.hostname -p

Reminder: Create Rails Database Tables

$ mysql -u myuser -h mysql.hostname -p

mysql> CREATE DATABASE 'project_development';
... output omitted ...

mysql> CREATE DATABASE 'project_test';
... output omitted ...

mysql> CREATE DATABASE 'project_production';
... output omitted ...

Ruby and Rails Setup

Install Ruby, Rubygems and dependancies:

$ sudo su -
$ apt-get -y update \
  && apt-get -y install git-core \
  && apt-get -y install ruby1.9.1 \
  && apt-get -y install ruby1.9.1-dev \
  && apt-get -y install build-essential \
  && apt-get -y install mysql-client \
  && apt-get -y install libmysqlclient-dev \
  && gem install rubygems-update --no-ri --no-rdoc \
  && update_rubygems \
  && gem install bundler --no-ri --no-rdoc

Checkout your Rails project:

$ cd ~
$ git clone [email protected]:mygituser/project.git
$ cd project

Configure and run Bundler:

$ bundle config build.mysql --with-mysql-config=/usr/bin/mysql_config
$ bundle install --path ./vendor/bundle
... output omitted ...

Run tests:

$ bundle exec rake test
... output omitted ...

Note: This should validate that everything is setup and working correctly, including your database connections.

Reminder: Don't forget to update your database configs:

$ vi config/database.yml 

Example configuration:

  adapter: mysql
  database: project_development
  encoding: utf8
  username: myuser
  password: password
  host: mysql.hostname

  adapter: mysql
  database: project_test
  encoding: utf8
  username: myuser
  password: password
  host: mysql.hostname

  adapter: mysql
  database: project_production
  encoding: utf8
  username: myuser
  password: password
  host: mysql.hostname

Start Rails:

$ sudo bundle exec rails s -p 80

Note: I've only opened port 80 on my AWS image, which is why I'm using both 'sudo' and the '-p 80' flag. If you have port 3000 open, you can start rails with... bundle exec rails s

Serving for Real

In the real world, you aren’t going to be using WEBrick, or at least I would hope not. My personal preference is to use Nginx and Unicorn (although there are lots of options out there). So here’s a quick how to on Nginx and Unicorn for those that are interest.


Install Unicorn using Bundler:

$ vi /home/myuser/project/Gemfile

Add the following line:

gem 'unicorn'

Update installed gems:

Note: this assumes you've already do the bundle install --path ./vendor/bundle step mentioned above.

$ cd /home/myuser/project
$ bundle
... output omitted ...

Note: you can install Unicorn directly, without Bundler, by running the following: $ sudo gem install unicorn

Configure Unicorn:

To configure unicorn, you’re going to want to create a config file for it. By default, it doesn’t need one and you can simply start it with bundle exec unicorn -p 3000 from within your project directory, exactly like WEBrick. However, this isn’t really ideal for real systems.

Create a config file:

$ vi /home/myuser/project/config/unicorn.conf

Example file:

worker_processes 8
listen ""
pid "/home/myuser/project/log/"
stderr_path "/home/myuser/project/log/unicorn_stderr.log"
stdout_path "/home/myuser/log/unicorn_stdout.log"
example file gist

Start Unicorn:

$ cd /home/myuser/project && \ 
bundle exec unicorn -c /home/myuser/project/config/unicorn.conf -D

Stopping Unicorn (the dirty way): ps aux | grep unicorn | grep project | cut -d" " -f2 | xargs kill


Install Nginx:

$ sudo apt-get install -y nginx

Configure Nginx:

$ sudo vi /etc/nginx/sites-available/default

Note, I have removed all commented lines from the default configuration, except the lines I commented out myself.

server {

  #root /usr/share/nginx/www;
  root /home/myuser/blog/public;
  index index.html index.htm;

  server_name app.hostname;

  location ~ ^/assets/ {
    root /home/myuser/blog/app/assets/$1;

  location / {

  #location /doc {
  # root /usr/share;
  # autoindex on;
  # allow;
  # deny all;

  #location /images {
  # root /usr/share;
  # autoindex off;
example file gist

Additionally, you can update your log directories to point to the rails log directory if you want, by editing /etc/nginx/nginx.conf and changing the following lines:

access_log /var/log/nginx/access.log;
error_log /var/log/nginx/error.log;

In Closing

This is my guide on setting up Ruby and Rails with MySQL, using Nginx and Unicorn. I don't claim to be the foremost expert on any of these technologies, but this should work pretty well for most sites. I highly recommend running this on something better then an AWS t1.micro, however, that should get you started. Enjoy!