Installing the BETYdb Rails Application

Note: This guide is aimed at Rails developers and testers. If you are a Pecan developer, you may want to use the notes in the PEcAn documentation{target="_blank"} instead of or in addition to the notes below.

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  1. Git

  2. Ruby 2.1.5 (Anything later than version 1.9.3 will probably work, but 2.1.5 is the officially supported version.) If you are doing Rails development or if you are using Ruby for outside of BETYdb, you may want to install RVM so that you can easily switch between Rails versions and Gem sets.

  3. PostgreSQL with the PostGIS extension (see [Instructions for Installing and Configuring PostgreSQL] for information on installing and configuring PostgreSQL)

  4. Apache web server (optional; developers in particular can simply use the built-in Rails server)

In addition, the scripts below assume you have a working Bash shell. (Windows users might be able to use Cygwin or some other some other port of Linux tools.)

Installing the Rails Application

Installing the Rails code and Ruby Gems

Run these commands to get the Rails code and the Ruby Gems that it uses:

# This can be any place you have write permissions for, probably something under your home directory:
# install bety
# Developers who will be submitting Git pull requests should make a fork of bety.git on GitHub and then
# replace the URL below with the address of their own copy:
git clone
# install gems
cd bety
gem install bundler # not needed if you already have bundler
bundle install # Use the --without option to avoid installing certain groups of Gems; see below.

[Note: If you can't or don't wish to install the capybara-webkit gem, you can comment it out in the Gemfile before running bundle install.

Note: If you receive "checking for pg_config... no" and the associated errors then you may need update using the "bundle config" command. For example, to update the bundle executable with the location of the pg_config command you can run: bundle config --with-pg-config=/usr/pgsql-9.4/bin/pg_config This assumes your pg_config is located at /usr/pgsql-9.4/bin/. Update this path as necessary for your local PostgreSQL/Postgis install]

Minimizing Gem Installation

Certain Ruby Gems are difficult or time-consuming to install on certain platforms, and if they are not essential to your work, you may wish to avoid installing them. (If this isn't a concern, you may skip this section.)

If you look at the Gemfile in the root directory of the BETYdb Rails code, you will see the certain Gems are specified within group blocks; this means they are intended to be used only in certain contexts. If you don't intend to use BETYdb within those contexts, you may safely use the --without option to bundle install to exclude the Gems used only in those contexts.

As an example, the passenger Gem is used only in the production environment. Therefore, it is in a production group within the Gemfile. If you run

bundle install --without=production

the bundler will skip installation of passenger.

Moreover, this is a "remembered" option: the next time you run bundle install, it will remember not to install production-only Gems even if you haven't specified the --without option. Furthermore, this "remembered option" is also respected by WEBrick, the default Rails server, so it won't complain that you didn't install the passenger Gem.

As another example, the capybara-webkit Gem is difficult and time-consuming to install on some platforms, and unless you are running the RSpec tests, you can do without it. (In fact, even if you are running RSpec tests, most of the tests don't use capybara-webkit, and for those that do, you can either skip them or tell them to use selenium-webdriver instead.)

capybara-webkit is in a group called javascript_testing, so to avoid installing it, run

bundle install --without=javascript_testing

To see what the remembered "without" options are, run

bundle config

You can also use bundle config to specify directly what groups Bundler should skip. For example, to tell Bundler to ignore all groups except the production group, pass a colon-separated list containing all of the other groups to bundle config --local without:

bundle config --local without development:test:javascript_testing:debug

To revert to installing everything when you run bundle install, remove the without setting from the configuration with

bundle config --delete without

Configuring Rails

Configure the BETYdb Rails application using the following commands:

# setup bety database configuration
cat > config/database.yml << EOF
adapter: postgis
encoding: utf-8
reconnect: false
database: bety
pool: 5
username: bety
password: bety
# Optional: Override some of the default configuration settings given in config/defaults.yml.
cp config/application.yml.template config/application.yml
# Read the comments in this file and set the variable values you are interested in; delete the other settings.

Installing the Database

Note To join the distributed network of databases, see the chapter [Distributed instances of BETYdb].

In the script directory of the bety Rails installation, find and run the script:


This script is a wrapper script for the script from the Pecan project. The latter can be downloaded by running without options. Use the -h option for more information.

Updating / Syncing the database

See instructions [Updating the BETY database].

Starting the BETYdb Rails Web Application

  1. cd to the bety directory, the directory you cloned the Rails code to.

  2. Run rails s.

  3. You should now be able to visit the web application at http://localhost:3000{target="_blank"}.

  4. To log in, use Login: carya, Password: illinois


To prevent the log files from growing to large it is recommended to use logrotation. This will rotate the logs (for example every week) and append .1 etc. to the logfiles. The following can be used on an Ubuntu system.

Edit /etc/logrotate.conf and add the following snippet at the bottom (replacing /home/bety/bety with the actual path to the installation of bety):

/home/bety/bety/log/*.log {
rotate 7

Once this installed you can force a logrotate to happen (or wait till Sunday) by using: sudo /usr/sbin/logrotate -f /etc/logrotate.conf