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Continuous Integration with Jenkins

Integrating rvm with Jenkins not only allows you to test multiple projects with different gemsets yet it also lets you test varying codebases against multiple rubies at the same time. The follow guide is aimed based primarily on a Ubuntu install but the instructions should be compatible with any platform.

Please note these instructions were based off of Nick Quaranto's excellent blog post on the thoughbot blog and adapted for more general purpose use.

General Overview

In general, you need to:

For a more detailed guide, see below:

Step 1. Getting and Installing Jenkins

The first step is to install jenkins on your system of choice. Currently, you have several ways of getting it:

  1. Installing via os-level packages (in our case, the debian package)
  2. Downloading and setting it up manually
  3. Using jenkins.rb (which bundles common plugins etc)

If you choose method two or three, you'll need to first create a new user for jenkins (typically called 'jenkins'). In our case, we'll use the first option by following the instructions on the official jenkins website. This approach takes care of automatically setting up init.d for us and also automatically creates the jenkins user.

If setting it up manually, I suggest installing jenkins via jenkins.rb for the niceties it offers.

Step 2. Setting up RVM

The next step is arguably the most important - you need to actually setup rvm for the jenkins user added in the last step. First things first, we need to install all the dependencies. RVM would automatically install the items required to build each ruby.

sudo apt-get install curl bison build-essential zlib1g-dev libssl-dev libreadline5-dev libxml2-dev git-core

Note that if you wish to also run ci against jruby, you'll need to install more packages including the jdk - see the ubuntu page linked above for more information.

Next, you'll need to login as the ubuntu user, in this case - jenkins.

sudo -Hiu jenkins

This should put you at a shell with bash loaded. So, now you can run the instructions on the rvm installation page - We strongly suggest using the rvm-install-head method setting it up only for the jenkins user.

Next, we need to add rvm to our shell profile - in this case, we'll add the following to the end of our ~/.bashrc:

[[ -s "$HOME/.rvm/scripts/rvm" ]] && source "$HOME/.rvm/scripts/rvm"

Also, with ubuntu the default .bashrc has a line containing "&& return" - If the same is true for your system, please ensure your replace it with an if as instructed but the rvm install.

Lastly, if we exit and relogin as jenkins, rvm should now be loaded. You can confirm this by typing:

type rvm | head -1

Which should result in 'rvm is a function'.

Lastly, we'll add the following lines to ~/.rvmrc as the jenkins user to make the actual process easier in general:


For an explanation of what each means, please see the rvmrc page which goes into detail about each one / the appropriate sections of this documentation - the general idea with this approach is when we first use a ruby / gemset, rvm will automatically install the ruby and create a gemset.

Step 3. Configuring Jenkins / Adding projects

For the actual hard work, we will be using the ability to run a shell script with jenkins.

Our suggested setup is to use scripts like follows with the jenkins option to "Execute Shell Script":

# Use the correct ruby
rvm use "ruby@gemset"
# Set "fail on error" in bash
set -e
# Do any setup
# e.g. possibly do 'rake db:migrate db:test:prepare' here
bundle install
# Finally, run your tests

The -e option causes bash to exit if any commands exit with an error. This is key to making the script work as expected.

Note that in some setups the environment may not be loaded correctly. In these situations, you should add the following below the shebang:

source "$HOME/.rvm/scripts/rvm"

If you wish to use matrix builds, this approach means you can define an environment variable e.g. build_ruby and set the matrix fields to be each ruby you wish to use, replacing the rvm use line with:

rvm use "$build_ruby@gemset-to-use"

And when cloning from git repositories, you'll need to ensure you add a ssh key for the jenkins user.

Lastly, if you wish to use rubies from an rvmrc automatically / handle setup that way, you may want to add:

[[ -s ".rvmrc" ]] && source .rvmrc

In place of the rvm use command / associated setup.