Jenkins CI for Rails 4, RSpec, Cucumber, Selenium

In this article we will setup CI system on fresh Ubuntu 12.04. I'm basing my manual a lot on Dan Maclains blog on configuring Jenkins:


First install some general stuff:

sudo apt-get install git curl vim

We will begin by adding Jenkins to trusted keys + source list and installing it:

wget -q -O - | sudo apt-key add -
sudo sh -c 'echo deb binary/ > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/jenkins.list'
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install jenkins

This will create Jenkins user, init.d script, and starts jenkins on port 8080 So you should be able to access Jenkins from http://localhost:8080/.

Jenkins system user configuration

In this part we will add rvm to Jenkins user, generate ssh-keys and add them to github.

sudo su - jenkins     # login as Jenkins user

# add rvm to Jenkins
bash -s stable < <(curl -s

Next (still inside Jenkins user) generate ssh-keys for Jenkins user

# generate ssh-keys for jenkins

...and add your public key and to desired Github profile

cat ~/.ssh/

What I would recommend is to create new Github user (somehing like my_application-bot or build-bot) and add him to a Github group that can pull repository. This way we will separate Build user on another layer ...source code management layer (just to make thing more secure).

Next (still inside Jenkins user) we will configure git user

git config --global "John Doe"
git config --global # yes this should match the github email

Logout from Jenkins user for now.

exit                  # leave jenkins user

Jenkins Plugins

We need to add several plugins to Jenkins. Open your web-browser and visit http://localhost:8080/pluginManager. Click on Available tab and search for Git, Github plugin and install.

Note: Github plugin is not a requirement. If you wont use Github webhooks or just prefer to run builds manually you can remove it.

Next go to http://localhost:8080/configure

In Git plugin section set the Global Config Value and Global Config Value. These should match the Github user that we set up

In the Shell section set Shell executable to /bin/bash

Configuration for Jenkins run

Note: I basing command below on the fact that Jenkins work directory is in '/var/lib/jenkins/`. Change them if different.

As a sudo user in your Build machine run:

echo "export rvm_trust_rvmrcs_flag=1" >> /tmp/.rvmrc
sudo mv /tmp/.rvmrc  /var/lib/jenkins/
chmod 755 /var/lib/jenkins/.rvmrc
echo "[ -s "/var/lib/jenkins/.rvm/scripts/rvm" ] && source "/var/lib/jenkins/.rvm/scripts/rvm" >> /tmp/.bashrc
sudo mv /tmp/.bashrc /var/lib/jenkins/
chmod 755 /var/lib/jenkins/.bashrc

This will crate files in Jenkins work directory which will be loaded for Jenkins system user.

Add Jenkins item

First step

Visit Jenkins website http://localhost:8080/ and choose to New item, name the item (e.g.: run test on master), select Build a free-style software project option and submit the form.

Second step

At this point we will skip the Github project item (green arrow), select git as your Source Code Management, fill in Repository URL (Use the format) and provide branch (e.g.: */master). You can choose whatewer branch you want, if you want to apply this to all branches you can use **, but I rather recommend to crate deferent items for different branches.

In Build section Add bulid step, select execute shell and fill in command textarea with:

source ~/.bashrc                                         # Loads RVM
cd .                                                     # Loads the RVM environment set in the .rvmrc file

rvm current                                              # will display current rvm (debugging purpouse)

cp /var/lib/jenkins/my_database.yml config/database.yml  # copy database yaml to project

bundle install                                           # Installs gems

TEST_ENV_NUMBER=995 RAILS_ENV=test bundle exec rake db:drop
TEST_ENV_NUMBER=995 RAILS_ENV=test bundle exec rake db:create
TEST_ENV_NUMBER=995 RAILS_ENV=test bundle exec rake db:migrate

TEST_ENV_NUMBER=995 RAILS_ENV=test bundle exec rake db:schema:load

TEST_ENV_NUMBER=995 rspec spec

export DISPLAY=:0;                                      # eneble jenkins to run firefox selenium websteps
                                                        # on screen

TEST_ENV_NUMBER=995 cucumber    # if you use cucucmber
TEST_ENV_NUMBER=995 spinach     # if you use spinach

As you can see I'm dropping and recreating database on each deploy. This is because sometimes branches get out of sync.

We will be passing the TEST_ENV_NUMBER variable to our database.yml, more on that in "configure database" section

Configuring database

Install database

In our example we will be using PostgreSQL database. But rest of manual is compatible with MySQL as well

Log back in to your sudo user and install PostgreSQL (if you didn't do that already)

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install postgresql-9.1 libpq-dev postgresql-contrib

(if you have problems installing PostgreSQL have a look on my scrapbook on PostgreSQL )

Setup database configuration file for Rails

create database Yam in Jenkins work directory:

sudo touch /var/lib/jenkins/my_database.yml
sudo chmod 755 /var/lib/jenkins/my_database.yml
sudo vim /var/lib/jenkins/my_database.yml

and add following:

default: &default
  host:    localhost
  adapter: postgresql
  encoding: unicode
  pool: 5
  username: ci_jenkins
  password: MyCoolPassword        # change 

  <<: *default
  database: validations_test<%= ENV['TEST_ENV_NUMBER'] %>

As you can see here we are using the ENV['TEST_ENV_NUMBER']. This way we will be able to run several different items at a same time (e.g.: testing custom branch & deploying staging at a same time) and even parallel tests.

Add database user for Jenkins

So lets login to PostgreSQL:

# from sudo user
sudo -u postgres psql

...and create ci_jenkins database user.

Because this build machine wont store any business data it's ok for our user to be SUPERUSER, therefor we wont have to give him permissions individually for database and this way we can drop and create database as we want.

CREATE USER ci_jenkins WITH PASSWORD 'MyCoolPassword';

First Jenkins Build

Visit Jenkins from browser again http://localhost:8080/ and schedule the build

First build

Jenkins accessible from outside

We will use NginX as a Proxy server in front of Jenkins

Install NginX (unless you have it already)

# as a sudo user
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nginx/stable --yes
sudo apt-get -y update
sudo apt-get -y install nginx

Next create NginX site configuration for Jenkins:

sudo touch /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/jenkins
sudo vim /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/jenkins

...and paste into it:

# /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/jenkins
upstream jenkins_server {
    server fail_timeout=0;

# all http requests will be redirect to https

server {
  listen 80 default;
  return 301 https://$host$request_uri;

server {
  listen 443 default;
  server_name;  # host/domain where you will
                                             # access the build machine
  # server_name;             # ...or if you use IP address

  ssl on;
  ssl_certificate     /etc/nginx/ssl/jenkins/server.crt;
  ssl_certificate_key /etc/nginx/ssl/jenkins/server.key;

  location / {
    proxy_pass http://jenkins_server;
    proxy_set_header        Host $host;
    proxy_set_header        X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
    proxy_set_header        X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
    proxy_connect_timeout   150;
    proxy_send_timeout      100;
    proxy_read_timeout      100;
    proxy_buffers           4 32k;

    client_max_body_size    8m;
    client_body_buffer_size 128k;

You can find alternative NgenX configurations at Especially if you don't want https use different one.

next generate those Self Signed Certificates under /etc/nginx/ssl/jenkins

sudo mkdir -p /etc/nginx/ssl/jenkins/
cd /etc/nginx/ssl/jenkins/

sudo openssl genrsa -des3 -out server.key 1024          # generate private server key with password
sudo openssl req -new -key server.key -out server.csr   # generate signing request form key
                                                        # this will promt you to fill in some inforation
                                                        # about "sign" company
                                                        # most import is the Common Name !!! 
# Common Name []                # enter here the official name, domain or IP 

sudo cp server.key
sudo openssl rsa -in -out server.key     # remove password from key

sudo openssl x509 -req -days 365 -in server.csr -signkey server.key -out server.crt  # sign the certificate (365 days)


when you run nginx -V output should say TLS SNI support enabled, othervise NginX don't support SNI.

NginX how to generate Self Signed Certificate stolen from this article Next make sure the main NginX config etc/nginx/nginx.conf includes your configuration

# /etc/nginx/nginx.conf
http {

  # ...

  include /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/*; #this should be there

  # ...

Also remove the default configuration file if it exist in /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

Test your NginX configuration via sudo /usr/sbin/nginx -t and if it's successful restart NginX:

sudo service nginx restart

...and visit you build machine domain / IP address (maybe from another computer)


How to restart Jenkins

From webinterface: http://Jenkins_url/restart

Console restart sudo service jenkins restart

I want Basic Auth in front of Jenkins

if you want Basic Authentication (.htpasswd) prompt on NginX level than all you have to do is to change NginX configuration for Jenkins site:

# /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/jenkins
server {
  # in our example under the "listen 443 default;" server
  # ...

  location / {

    # ...

    auth_basic "You shall not pass !!!";
    auth_basic_user_file /etc/nginx/security/htpasswd;

    # ...

    proxy_set_header        Authorization "";  # this one is important
                                               # read the "Basic auth NginX - Jenkins triggering Jetty basic auth"
                                               # F.A.Q. section for more info

Changing Jenkins port

vim /etc/default/jenkin

change HTTP_PORT=8080 to whatever you want. I'll need port 8080 for another application, so I'll use unassigned port 9700: HTTP_PORT=9700

Enabled security and no user can access

If you mange to enable Jenkins security but forgot to create users, or you forgot passwords to all of your Jenkins webinterface users, just change <useSecurity>true</useSecurity> to <useSecurity>false</useSecurity> in /var/lib/jenkins/config.xml

User as Administrator

in /var/lib/jenkins/config.xml make sure that your user has a line


Basic auth NginX - Jenkins triggering Jetty basic auth

If you manage to set up NginX in front of Jenkins with basic auth (.htpasswd) and on Jenkins you created Web user own database credentials. It may happen that now when you try to access the page you will get NginX basic auth popup and after successful login you will get another basic auth pop up (w.t.f ?)

When you fail the second popup and you get:


Problem accessing /. Reason:

    Bad credentials

Powered by Jetty://

Reason for this is tat you forgot to tell NginX to proxy pass your Authorivation header. Webserver (Jetty) that Jenkins is running on will susspect you failed basic auth unless you pass this header:

# /etc/nginx/sites-availible/jenkins
# ....
proxy_set_header   Authorization "";
# ....

This should fix it.


Published April 15, 2014