Caius Theory

Now with even more cowbell…

Geolocation in nginx

Sometimes you need to have a rough idea of where your website visitor is located. There's many ways to geolocate them, but if you just want to go to country level then MaxMind have free geo databases available to help you. When we needed to do this quickly on-the-fly at EmberAds, we came up with the trifle gem, which supports ipv4 and ipv6 lookups.

Recently I was searching for something else to do with nginx and ran across a mailing list thread about using the maxmind database with nginx's HTTP Geo module and do the lookup directly in nginx itself. Finally got a chance to sit down and work out the logistics of doing this. I've done this on an ubuntu 12.04 box, with the expected config file layouts that come with ubuntu.

Run the following on your server (as someone with write access to nginx config files):

# Generate the text file for nginx to import
perl <(curl -s \
< <(zip=$(tempfile) && \
curl -so $zip \
&& unzip -p $zip) > /etc/nginx/nginx_ip_country.txt

# Tell nginx to work out the IP country and store in variable
echo 'geo $IP_COUNTRY {
  default --;
  include /etc/nginx/nginx_ip_country.txt;
}' > /etc/nginx/conf.d/ip_country.conf

Now go find the http block for the vhost you want to have the header passed to, and assuming it's passenger, add the following:

# http {
  # server_name;
  passenger_set_cgi_param HTTP_X_IP_COUNTRY $IP_COUNTRY;
# }

(If you don't use passenger, look at the docs for proxy_pass_header or fastcgi_pass_header to see which you'll require for your setup.)

Reload nginx, and behold, request.env["HTTP_X_IP_COUNTRY"] (assuming a rack app running under ruby) will be a two letter country code, or "--".

Unfortunately this is IPv4 only currently, there's a thread on the nginx mailing list from November 2012 saying IPv6 support should be coming on the v1.3 branch of nginx, but with no known ETA. So currently for IPv6 support, take a look at EmberAds' trifle gem instead.

Install capybara-webkit gem on Ubuntu

Dear future Caius searching for this issue,

The apt package you need to install to use the capybara-webkit rubygem on ubuntu (tested on 10.04 and 11.10) is libqt4-dev. That is, to gem install capybara-webkit, you need to run aptitude install libqt4-dev.

Yours helpfully,
Past Caius

Automatically Deploying Website From Remote Git Repository

Before I start, I'll just quickly run through where I put stuff on my server. Apache logs and config are in the ubuntu default folders: /var/log/apache2 and /etc/apache2/ respectively.

Websites:  /home/caius/vhosts/<domain name>/htdocs
Git Repos: /home/caius/git/<domain name>.git

So I have a git repo locally, ~/projects/, and want to deploy it to my webserver. I'll keep the git repo in ~/git/ and set it up so that when I push to the repo (over ssh) it will automatically checkout the new changes into the website's htdocs folder.

I'm assuming DNS is already setup (or I've used ghost to map it locally.) And that I've setup the virtualhost in apache pointing at /home/caius/vhosts/ and reloaded apache so the config is in place.

Remote Machine

We create a bare git repo, then point the working tree at the docroot of our website. This means all the git stuff is kept in the somesite.git folder, but the files themselves are checked out to the website's folder. Then we setup a post-receive hook to update the worktree folder after new changes have been pushed to the repo.

$ cd git
$ mkdir somesite.git
$ cd somesite.git/
$ git init --bare
Initialized empty Git repository in /home/caius/git/somesite.git/
$ git --bare update-server-info
$ git config core.worktree /home/caius/vhosts/
$ git config core.bare false
$ git config receive.denycurrentbranch ignore
$ cat > hooks/post-receive
git checkout -f
$ chmod +x hooks/post-receive

Local Machine

And now on the client machine we add the remote repo as a git remote, and then push to it.

$ git remote add web ssh://myserver/home/caius/git/somesite.git
$ git push web +master:refs/heads/master
Counting objects: 3, done.
Writing objects: 100% (3/3), 229 bytes, done.
Total 3 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
To ssh://myserver/home/caius/git/somesite.git
 * [new branch]      master -> master

All Done

And now if you go to you'll see the contents of your git repo there. ( is just an example url though, I don't actually own it!)

Helpful URLs