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Phusion Passenger (mod_rails) version 1.0.2 released, and more

By Ninh Bui on April 29th, 2008

It has been two weeks since the release of Passenger version 1.0.1. More and more people are switching to Passenger, and most are very pleased with the quality of our initial release. ๐Ÿ™‚ But in these past 2 weeks, we’ve continued to make improvements to Passenger. So today, we’re happy to announce the release of Passenger version 1.0.2. ๐Ÿ˜€

Hongli Lai Ninh Bui

Featured improvements and changes

100% support for MacOS X’s default Apache

Passenger has always supported MacOS X. This fact is demonstrated in our screencast, created by Ryan Bates on a Mac. However, there was an inconvenience: Passenger was incompatible with the default Apache installation, as provided by OS X. The installer warned about that. As a result, OS X users had to install Apache via MacPorts or by hand.

But no more. Thanks for the help of Weyert de Boer and the people at Fingertips, we’ve been able to track down the problem. Passenger now fully supports MacOS X’s default Apache! There is no need to install Apache via MacPorts anymore. ๐Ÿ™‚

RubyGems-related fixes: Rails < 2.0 is now supported

The Passenger gem specifies Rails 2.0 as a dependency. This seemed to be a good idea at the time: Passenger is to be used in combination with Rails, and we figured that by specifying Rails as a dependency, the user will have one command less to type.

But it turned out that some RubyGems versions will load Rails 2.0 during Passenger’s startup, even though Passenger didn’t explicitly tell RubyGems to do that. As a result, some people were having trouble with using Passenger with Rails < version 2.0. This issue has been fixed.

Memory statistics tool

Some people have attempted to analyze Passenger’s memory usage. But standard tools such as ‘top’ and ‘ps’ don’t always report the correct memory usage.

We’ve provided a tool, passenger-memory-stats, which allows people to easily analyze Passenger’s and Apache’s real memory usage. For example:

$ sudo ./bin/passenger-memory-stats
------------- Apache processes --------------
PID    PPID  Threads  VMSize   Private  Name
5947   1     9        90.6 MB  0.5 MB   /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
5948   5947  1        18.9 MB  0.7 MB   /usr/sbin/fcgi-pm -k start
6029   5947  1        42.7 MB  0.5 MB   /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
6030   5947  1        42.7 MB  0.5 MB   /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
6031   5947  1        42.5 MB  0.3 MB   /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
6033   5947  1        42.5 MB  0.4 MB   /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
6034   5947  1        50.5 MB  0.4 MB   /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
23482  5947  1        82.6 MB  0.4 MB   /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
### Processes: 8
### Total private dirty RSS: 3.50 MB

--------- Passenger processes ---------
PID    Threads  VMSize   Private  Name
6026   1        10.9 MB  4.7 MB   Passenger spawn server
23481  1        26.7 MB  3.0 MB   Passenger FrameworkSpawner: 2.0.2
23791  1        26.8 MB  2.9 MB   Passenger ApplicationSpawner: /var/www/projects/app1-foobar
23793  1        26.9 MB  17.1 MB  Rails: /var/www/projects/app1-foobar
### Processes: 4
### Total private dirty RSS: 27.76 MB

The private dirty RSS field shows the *real* memory usage of processes. Here, we see that all the Apache worker processes only take less than 1 MB memory each. This is a lot less than the 50 MB-ish memory usage as shown in the “VMSize” column (which is what a lot of people think is the real memory usage, but is actually not).

Please note that this tool only works on Linux. Unfortunately other operating systems don’t provide facilities for determining processes’ private dirty RSS.

Improved stability

If the framework spawner server or application spawner crashes, then Passenger 1.0.1 will keep showing error messages until one restarts Apache. Passenger 1.0.2 will automatically restart spawner servers when they crash, thus lowering maintenance burden even more.

Setting ENV[‘RAILS_ENV’] in environment.rb now works
A bug caused ENV[‘RAILS_ENV’] in environment.rb to be ignored. This has now been fixed.
Support for custom page caching directories

Page caching was supported by Passenger, but setting a custom (non-standard) page caching directory did not work. This has now been fixed. But please note that Passenger won’t be able to accelerate page cache files in non-standard page caching directories.

Usability and documentation improvements

The community has provided a lot more insight on things that can go wrong. We’ve done our best to document all troubleshooting-related issue into our Users guide. We’ve also adapted some error messages so that users can solve the problem without reading the manual.

Thanks for all the feedback people! ๐Ÿ™‚

Fixed conflicts with system-provided Boost library

Passenger makes use of the Boost C++ library. Its sources are included into the Passenger sources. But if the system already has a different Boost version installed, then the two Boost libraries would conflict with each other, and Passenger would fail to install. We’ve made sure that this doesn’t happen: now, installation will succeed even if there’s already another Boost version installed.

Improved SSL compatibility

There was a problem with SSL hosts, which would only be triggered if “SSLOptions +ExportCertData” is set. This issue has now been fixed.

Improved support for graceful restarts

If you installed Passenger for the first time, then the first graceful Apache restart would not properly initialize Passenger. This issue has now been solved.

There are also a few small improvements and changes that aren’t worth mentioning.

How do I upgrade?

Just install it like you did the first time:

gem install passenger



Please don’t forget to copy & paste the Apache config snippet that the installer gives you.

Enterprise Licenses, donations and t-shirts

In many ways, Phusion Passenger (mod_rails) has been an overwhelming success to us, and we’re very grateful for the community support you guys have given us. Also, a lot of companies and individuals have been more than generous in purchasing an Enterprise License for Phusion Passenger (mod_rails). In particular, we’d like to thank all the people who have donated over a certain amount and thought it would only be fitting to send them something concrete as a reminder of this generous act. After giving it a lot of thought, we came with something really shabby (or at least we ‘part-time fashion connoisseurs’ think so ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

To celebrate our first successful open source product launch here at Phusion, we’ve decided to silkscreen-print 100 limited edition Phusion t-shirts, each hand-numbered from 1 to 100. A few of these will go to our friends at Apple, Sun Microsystems and 37 signals, and the remainder of the shirts will go to those who have donated over 200 USD in total (we’ll take care of the shipping fees). Needless to say, these shirts are going to be hot as heck at IT conferences such as Railsconf, as they have been silkscreen-printed by the same people who are responsible for printing the shirts for the uberhip brands Rockwell, Freshcotton and Top Notch. The shirts themselves are super premium t’s which weigh 205gr/m2. To emphasize this even more, we’ve arranged for a photo shoot with a few professional lady models ๐Ÿ˜‰ and just like you, we can’t wait to see the result of this. Hopefully, you’ll be able to see the result soon!

An artist’s impression of the Phusion t-shirt

People who haven’t donated yet, or donated less than 200 USD but who want a piece of the t-shirt action as well will get the opportunity to “set this right” in the second (current) and third batch of enterprise licenses by donating the remainder amount to us under the same PayPal account. We’ll try to sort this out then as soon as possible. Needless to say, first come, first serve will be maintained, so if you want a shirt, be sure to act fast as supplies are bound to not last for very long! You probably don’t want to be figuring out that you actually wanted a shirt like this when it’s too late right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Also, we’ve only got a limited amount in each size (especially the sizes small and XXL are likely to run out fast, and not to mention the girlie sized shirts for the ladies).

Lastly, we’re very grateful for all donations, and it is for this reason that we’ll also occasionaly randomly pick a few people from the donation list that haven’t donated over 200 USD for a Phusion t-shirt as well ;-). So in short, whatever amount you decide to donate, be sure to include your shirt size as well from now on as it might be your lucky day ๐Ÿ˜‰


Not only community wise, but also commercial wise, Phusion Passenger has opened up a lot of doors for Phusion that would otherwise likely have remained closed. For starters, we’ll be talking at Railsconf in a little more than a month about Phusion Passenger and the highly anticipated Ruby Enterprise Edition. It seems that the latter has already generated a lot of buzz and that this for the greater part, is because of its name. We actually think this is a good thing since we don’t believe that there is such a thing as bad publicity. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Don’t worry too much about it though, Railsconf will provide us with the perfect opportunity to dive into this subject a little bit deeper and hopefully, you’ll agree with us on that it’ll make a lot of sense to call it Ruby Enterprise Edition. We’ll also do something that is probably unprecedented with regards to talks so be sure to check us out over there, even if it’s just for the meet and greet / casual chat. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We’re on the RailsConf speakers list!

Side notes

We’re also still hard at work on writing a series of articles on both Phusion Passenger as well as Ruby Enterprise Edition from which we’ll also distill a scientific paper to be published on eeprints at the University of Twente (rocking! ;-)). Needless to say, these articles will be published for your reading pleasure as well. ๐Ÿ˜‰

As you may have already noticed, Phusion recently consisted of mainly Hongli Lai and Ninh Bui. Even though we two make up for one hell of a team, we both definitely started feeling the growth pains of a healthy growing startup company. A little while ago we posted some job openings in the hopes of increasing Phusion’s capacity, but unfortunately, most of these applications were from outside of the Netherlands.

Today however, we’re pleased to announce that our good friend Tinco Andringa has decided to join the fray by joining Phusion. He’s not alone in this though, since our other good friend Maurits Dijkstra has also decided to do the same. And yes, the latter of the two IS related to the famous Edsger Dijkstra, which you may already know from Dijkstra’s shortest path algorithm ๐Ÿ˜‰ (but that wasn’t the main reason why we wanted him on board at Phusion per se ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Just like with Hongli and I, Maurits’ and Tinco’s computer science education find their origin at the Universiteit Twente and both have built a nice career on the side as software engineers as well: with this configuration, we hope to be able to even deliver better on our services and products!

Well, that wraps it up for today! Stay tuned though, as we’ve only started to ‘bring it on’! ๐Ÿ˜‰

With kind regards, your friends at Phusion,

Hongli Lai Ninh Bui

– Tinco Andringa
– Maurits Dijkstra