Bundler, gems and RPMs
Recently I was working with one of our valued Thoughtworkers on an application we were trying to not only develop in a sane way, but package and deploy to production with just as much sanity. The status quo seems to favour bundler on the development side, but RPMs on the production side (if you judge these decisions based on what developers and ops folk prefer, generally).
After a reasonable amount of WTFing, we actually managed to get it working reasonably well. If you have Ruby apps with gem dependencies and want to develop and push to production with equal ease I suggest you read the blog post on the subject by Philip Potter here.
Blog Post #2 on Bundler and RPM
I attempted to use the same methodology we had already followed with the first app, to another app so that this one was also packaged using Bundler and RPM. Needing to confirm that all was well before I committed the changes I did some testing in a CentOS virtual machine in Vagrant. To be expected, with a deployment bundle of a decent few gems the package size comes out at around 15MB. I committed the changes and the produced RPM from the Jenkins build job was 50MB. Why?
Initially, I suspected subtle differences in Bundler gem versions, library path differences etc but these ended up being dead-ends. What was happening, however, was that the gems were being installed into apprepo/vendor/ruby/1.8, including the excluded groups. I am assuming this is a necessity for the tests and other build-time checks to run, but I certainly didn’t want them to be packaged with the RPM which can rely on just the gem cache.
As it turns out, Bundler has some “smart” code around user permissions – specifically around what commands you can run through sudo. A standard Vagrant box will have unrestricted sudo access for the vagrant user, so it can install gems anywhere. Bundler uses this fact to its advantage and will install them into the standard /usr/lib64/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/ path. Hence, when it comes time to package up the gems as an RPM, these files are not in the app build path and the RPM stays a slim 15MB.
In our build pipeline which uses a standard user account on a fairly normal CentOS install, the jenkins user has no such permissions and thus has no option but to install them into the vendor directory along with the other Bundler artifacts. The solution was simply to exclude this directory from being packaged, although I’m still not entirely sure why we didn’t hit this problem the first time around. Nevertheless, bearing in mind these few gotchas, we now have a system in place that makes it a snap to add more gems and maintain a well-packaged and stable application from development to production.