mod_rails for Apache – the end of an era?

At the end of last week Phusion, a Netherlands based IT company, launched the Passenger gem, which acts as a mod_rails for Apache. Without going into the technical details, this is as close as Rails has come to having an ‘ftp files to the server and it works’ deployment method. With deployment being one of the steepest learning curves in the Rails world, this announcement could potentially be huge.

So what does this mean for developers who have been using Rails for several years and those who have yet to pick it up? Many Rails developers, who have seen the progression from CGI to FastCGI to Mongrel, Mongrel Cluster, Thin, etc, have been forced to learn a good amount about unix, apache, nginx, monitoring servers, watching processes, etc. Unix command line skills have gone hand in hand with Rails development up to this point. In fact, entire businesses such as Rails Machine, Engine Yard, Planet Argon, etc. are built around the fact that Rails is hard for the average person to deploy (not to mention great open source tools like capistrano, vlad and mongrel itself).

Is this the beginning of a new era for Rails where the last barrier to entry has been removed? It will be interesting to see what kind of effect this has on the current Rails community as real-world data becomes available.

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