Running The Depot Application With Jruby

I completed the Depot application from the Agile Development With Rails book, and I feel that I have a good understanding of the basics of developing with Ruby on Rails. It’s a great framework, and creating the Depot application was a fun and enlightening process. I thought that it might be equally enlightening to “port” the Depot application to Jruby using the Jruby On Rails libraries. I had two basic milestones in mind:

  1. Development & Testing – I wanted to be able to develop and test my application just like I did with CRuby, using tools such as mongrel and rake.
  2. J2EE Deployment – The most popular process for deploying a Java-based application is to build a WAR file and then deploy it to a Java application server such as Tomcat (which was my choice). I wanted to be able to complete these steps with my RoR application.

The entire process was surprisingly easy. The first milestone, Development and Testing, is covered in this article. The J2EE Deployment milestone will be covered in a different blog article.

Development & Testing

Here are some simple steps that will have your application running with mongrel very quickly. Please note that I am executing the steps below on a netbook running Ubuntu 9.10. These commands should work on most Linux distributions, however. Also, they should work with a few small adjustments on a Windows machine.

Prepping Your Project Directory

First, you’re not going to want to make these changes to your original version of the Depot code. You will probably want to create a copy of it that is designed to work with Jruby. Here’s how I did it on my machine:

$ cd /home/tom/Dev/ruby
$ cp -r depot depot-jruby

The location of your depot folder will probably be different on your machine, but I’m sure that you can make the necessary adjustments :) Also, please note that it is a good idea to “freeze” your rails version now if you have not done so already. You can do this by executing the following command:

$ cd /home/tom/Dev/ruby/depot-jruby
$ jruby -S rake rails:freeze:edge RELEASE=2.2.2

Installing Jruby

Next, you’ll want to install Jruby. There’s a lot of ways of doing this, but this method worked pretty well on my development machine:

$ cd /tmp
$ wget
$ tar xvfz jruby-bin-1.4.0.tar.gz
$ sudo cp -r jruby-1.4.0 /opt
# please replace tom:tom with your user and group
$ sudo chown -R tom:tom /opt/jruby-1.4.0
$ sudo ln -s /opt/jruby-1.4.0 /opt/jruby

Then simply add /opt/jruby to your PATH, and see if you can execute jirb.

Installing Rails And Other Libraries

This process is just as easy using Jruby as it is using CRuby. Install the gems using these commands:

$ jruby -S gem install rails --version 2.2.2
$ jruby -S gem install mongrel jruby-openssl jdbc-sqlite3

A few notes on those commands:

  • Prepend the gem command with jruby -S to ensure that you are using the right version of the gem command. This also works with any other Jruby command, such as rake.
  • Since the example uses the 2.2.2 version of Rails, we’re going to need it too.
  • jdbc-sqlite3 is the Java version of the sqlite3 DB driver.
  • The jruby-openssl package is nice to have regardless of what you’re installing with rubygems.

Making Depot Safe For JDBC

You can’t use the C-based database drivers with Jruby, but luckily, the Jruby developers have made it very easy to use the JDBC-based equivalents. First, make sure that you are using version 0.9.2 of the activerecord-jdbc-adapter driver or higher. You can check this by executing the following command:

$ jruby -S gem list | grep activerecord-jdbc-adapter
activerecord-jdbc-adapter (0.9.2)

Next, execute the following command from the root directory of your project:

$ jruby script/generate jdbc
exists  config/initializers
create  config/initializers/jdbc.rb
create  lib/tasks
create  lib/tasks/jdbc.rake

That’s it! Your Depot application is now ready to use Jruby-on-Rails.

Please note that I did not modify my config/database.yml file or hack any part of the Rails libraries to make JDBC work. These steps used to be necessary, but the command listed above gives you a much easier and cleaner way of using JDBC. For more information, please check out this article:


To test my work, I did the following:

  • I ran the mongrel app server and executed some manual tests of the Depot web site. That worked well.
  • I execute all of my tests using the rake test command. This also worked as well as it had with the CRuby version of my application.

Success! Now it would be nice to review all of the files that changed or were added. Since I checked my project into my git repository before making any changes, I can get the information that I need pretty easily:

$ git status
# branch master
# Changes to be committed:
#   (use "git reset HEAD <file>..." to unstage)
#       new file:   config/initializers/jdbc.rb
#       new file:   lib/tasks/jdbc.rake

That’s it! No code or config changes were necessary.


As you can see, it’s fairly easy to “port” the Depot application to use Java-based versions of mongrel, rails, and the other libraries from the Agile Development With Rails book. In my next article, I will take this application and deploy it on top of a Tomcat server.