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Lobsters Rails Project Build Status

This is the quite sad source code to the site operating at It is a Rails 5 codebase and uses a SQL (MariaDB in production) backend for the database.

While you are free to fork this code and modify it (according to the license) to run your own link aggregation website, this source code repository and bug tracker are only for the site operating at Please do not use the bug tracker for support related to operating your own site unless you are contributing code that will also benefit

Contributing bugfixes and new features

Please see the CONTRIBUTING file.

Initial setup

Use the steps below for a local install or lobsters-ansible for our production deployment config. There's an external project docker-lobsters if you want to use Docker.

  • Install Ruby 2.3.

  • Checkout the lobsters git tree from Github

    $ git clone git://
    $ cd lobsters
  • Install Nodejs, needed (or other execjs) for uglifier

    Fedora: sudo yum install nodejs
    Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install nodejs
    OSX: brew install nodejs
  • Run Bundler to install/bundle gems needed by the project:

    lobsters$ bundle
    • If when installing the mysql2 gem on macOS, you see ld: library not found for -l-lpthread in the output, see this solution for a fix. You might also see ld: library not found for -lssl if you're using macOS 10.4+ and Homebrew openssl, in which case see this solution.
  • Create a MySQL (other DBs supported by ActiveRecord may work, only MySQL and MariaDB have been tested) database, username, and password and put them in a config/database.yml file. You will also want a separate database for running tests:

      adapter: mysql2
      encoding: utf8mb4
      reconnect: false
      database: lobsters_dev
      socket: /tmp/mysql.sock
      username: *dev_username*
      password: *dev_password*
      adapter: mysql2
      encoding: utf8mb4
      reconnect: false
      database: lobsters_test
      socket: /tmp/mysql.sock
      username: *test_username*
      password: *test_password*
  • Load the schema into the new database:

    lobsters$ rails db:schema:load
  • Define your site's name and default domain, which are used in various places, in a config/initializers/production.rb or similar file:

    class << Rails.application
      def domain
      def name
        "Example News"
    Rails.application.routes.default_url_options[:host] = Rails.application.domain
  • Put your site's custom CSS in app/assets/stylesheets/local.

  • Seed the database to create an initial administrator user, the inactive-user, and at least one tag:

    lobsters$ rails db:seed
  • On your personal computer, you can add some sample data and run the Rails server in development mode. You should be able to login to http://localhost:3000 with your new test user:

    lobsters$ rails fake_data
    lobsters$ rails server
  • Deploying the site in production requires setting up a web server and running the app in production mode. There are more tools and options available than we can describe; find a guide or an expert. The lobsters-ansible repo has our config files to crib from. Some app-specific notes:

  • Set up crontab or another scheduler to run regular jobs:

    */5 * * * *  cd /path/to/lobsters && env RAILS_ENV=production sh -c 'bundle exec ruby script/mail_new_activity; bundle exec ruby script/post_to_twitter'
  • See config/initializers/production.rb.sample for GitHub/Twitter integration help.


Basic moderation happens on-site, but most other administrative tasks require use of the rails console in production. Administrators can create and edit tags at /tags.