Moving Instant Rails Forward

It has been a long time since InstantRails has been brought up-to-date and I had been wondering if the community had any continued interest in the project.

Well, recently I had been contacted about the project and moving it forward and bring it to Rails 3 and Ruby 1.9.2.

Instant Rails 2.0

Today Instant Rails 2.0 consists of fairly old Ruby on Rails components:

  • Ruby version 1.8.6 Patch Level 111
  • Rails to 2.0.2
  • Mongrel to 1.1.2
  • RubyGems to 1.0.1
  • Rake to 0.8.1
  • SQLite3
  • Apache
  • MySQL
  • phpMyAdmin

Instant Rails vNext

The goal of the next version of Instant Rails would be something really easy to install and use.  One of the great features of Instant Rails today is the ability to extract the Instant Rails zip file to any directory you choose and have the ability to delete it later without the fancy uninstall ceremony we usually see in Windows.

I wrote here in the past about setting up to run Ruby on Rails 3 on Windows.  The steps are not complicated but may be more than new developers are able to follow.

My initial thoughts of components to be included:

  • Ruby 1.9.2
  • Rails 3.0.1
  • RubyGems and Rake latest
  • SQLite3
  • No Apache or Mongrel, just WebBrick
  • Git Support

In the spirit of keeping these simple; what am I missing?  What components are missing?

Let’s not talk features just yet but major components only.  I am leaving out Apache and MySQL as I don’t think they’re needed.  WebBrick and SQLite3 work just fine for development purposes.

Please provide your thoughts in the comments as to the interest in a new version of Instant Rails and also what components are needed.

Thank you.

  • Jaco Pretorius

    Great to see that Instant Rails isn’t dying a slow death (as I thought). I think you’ve hit the nail on the head in terms of what we would like to see in Instant Rails, but I would add autotest and growl to that list.

  • Brian Hogan

    I would love to talk to you about this. For my training camps and classes, I have maintained an installer with exactly the components you have outlined here, with a couple of very minor changes:

    1. I bundle ImageMagick too. I understand that’s not as painful as it was previously
    2. I bundle 1.8.7 instead of 1.9.2 because I still ran into some libraries during my training sessions that didn’t work on 1.9.2 yet.
    3. I bundle RedCar IDE, which we use for training. It works very well, but it does introduce the need for a working JRE on the machine, which isn’t as instant.

    I’d be happy to talk more with you about this. I built my own because I needed it and I didn’t want to use anything other than Rails, Ruby, SQLite3, and Webrick to make this work – Apache and PHP seemed silly. If you’re willing to take this on, let me know how I can help so I can stop maintaining my own. :)

  • Charley Baker

    I think that about sums it up. I helped with a Rails workshop a few weeks ago and these are the installer instructions that we used for Rails 3.0 on Windows: Some additional gems – notably bundler and heroku. They used Komodo as the editor which was an okay solution, I’ve used Scite in the past which also worked. As Brian mentions, RedCar is really nice, but does have minimal downside of requiring the JRE.

  • Anonymous

    The only point I would suggest change from the DevChix wiki is Git autocrlf. That must be set to false to avoid incorrect behavior of git apply, diff and others that depend on unix line endings.

  • Anonymous

    Hello Rob,

    Happy to hear that someone is taking over the dead horse. Ideally I would recommend package RubyInstaller binaries (either using RubyInstaller as is or 7zip packages) along with the DevKit

    Simply because people will not find any Instant Rails + gem compilation reference until the project take off (and lot of support burden)

    Also MySQL and the mysql gem seems to be one of the common setup issues users are having.

    As always, for any assistance you can find us at RubyInstaller group:

    OT: The Philippines Ruby User group created an installer for Ruby + Rails:

    And now with MySQL support:

  • Anonymous

    Brian, would love to have you involved in this project. I sent you and email and hopefully we can chat.

    I am the current maintainer of Instant Rails and it is a nice project but needs attention. I will be updating and the project will happen.

  • Anonymous


    I am the current/past maintainer of this dead horse. Lots of reasons why it was left behind but that is in the past. The old/current version uses the RubyInstaller and the new one will too.

    From my understanding RubyInstaller does NOT ship with DevKit? If not, why?

    I would love to chat with you sometime about RubyInstaller and how you might see the best approach for a total rewrite of InstantRials. If you are willing, what the the best way to contact you directly?

  • Anonymous

    You’re correct. RubyInstaller does not ship with the DevKit for several reasons, similar to the ones it doesn’t ship with any editor or bundled gem beyond Ruby itself.

    There are scenarios where gem compilation is not required, so imposing a 25MB download for some users just wanting to use WIN32OLE is too much.

    There are plans for a separate installer but right now we use a SFX archive and some instructions.

    Having it separate allow us to upgrade GCC independently of the release of Ruby itself. We do not aim at releasing installer “versions” of similar Ruby versions which confuses users (like previous One-Click did).

    You can reach my personal email (at I’ve already joined InstantRails group and you can always start a new topic on RubyInstaller group too.

    For IM chat, use my gmail address.

  • drnic

    It’d be great for InstantRails to bundle the devkit; I’m certain most Rails developers will have an imminent need for it, more so than non-Rails Ruby/Windows developers.

  • drnic

    It’d be good to bundle both DBs. Sqlite3 is a nice thing to have as a free gift :)

  • drnic

    Luis, did they ever post where the source to their Rails FTW project/RubyInstaller fork is? I can only find the .exe download links in those articles. If not, I’ll follow up to find it.

  • drnic
  • James

    You might check this out:

    It’s my own project that basically aimed to be a much slimmer Instant Rails, with about the exact feature set you say you are wanting for the new Instant Rails. Only problem is, it’s also pretty outdated. I set it aside, waiting for RubyInstaller to finish porting to mingw and waiting for the 1.9 branch to stabilize. Now that those two things have come and gone, I haven’t had much motivation to update it since I rarely touch a Windows machine anymore.

    I’d kinda like to get it back up to date, so I can use for what I originally intended it for: to carry around on a flash drive to easily plug into a computer and show off a Rails project. I’d like to move the project to github, maybe add in a git client, get rid off or fix/update the RadRails integration, and add Netbeans integration, in addition to updating to the latest 1.9.2 Ruby from RubyInstaller (with Devkit).

    So anyway, if you want any collaboration over email, just let me know (sending you my email on your private contact page).

  • Dan Sadaka


    I used InstantRails on my first major project, as did all the other programmers. After trying in vain to upgrade these programmer workstations, I am extremely happy to see that you will be moving IR forward.

    I agree with your inclusion list but would also ask that MySQL be included as an option.

    Also, I’d be happy to beta test for you. How long do you expect this to take you?


  • Anonymous

    MySQL seems to be something others want as well, so it will likely be both SQLite and MySQL.

    As far as a timeline, no idea. There is lots to do a rewrite like this and some base decisions to be made. I will post some updates here once some details are ironed out.

  • Jimmy

    I like the Instant Rails environment because I can put on a flash drive and use it on any computer with any installation. But if you just want something that is easy to set up and get going quickly try BitNami RubyStack.

  • Norm

    I use InstantRails (updated to RoR 2.2.2) as an application delivery platform. It is very useful for that as I can just put together a package with the database setup and the app installed and tell the user to unzip it and run it. I need mysql and mongrel but I could care less about the apache. I guess if you want to use mysql and do not want to learn sql it might be useful to have the admin tools but in rails all is doable without them so you are better off without them. I find IR useless as a development platform but that might be because I come from a Unix/Linux background and like the command line.

    I am interested in helping if I can.
    Norm Scherer
    [email protected]