30 minutes to Redmine 3.4, an express installation guide

Updated 2018-05-08: Added email delivery section and corrected requirements for Git Smart HTTP

What we will do

  • Install Redmine 3.4.x
  • Use RVM to be able to easily update Ruby when needed
  • Use Apache and Passenger to serve pages
  • [Optionally] Configure Email delivery
  • [Optionally] secure the installation with Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate
  • [Optionally] configure git
  • [Optionally] install a cool theme

Before starting

This was tested on Debian 9.4 (Stretch) with Redmine 3.4.x  but it should be compatible with future updates.

I used Digital Ocean’s droplet. It’s not the cheapest available around ($5/month) but I’m very happy with the performances and quality of service. Shameless advertisement: If you use this link to register, I will get a discount on my next bill. Thanks! :p

You will need a minimum of 1GB of RAM to compile everything needed though more than 1.5GB of RAM is recommended. If you have less than 1GB memory or face a compilation error due to memory outage, you can still have it work creating a swap file.

Note that the total installation time will mostly depend on the server’s internet connection speed and compilation speed.

Install the things

#Get all the packages we will need
apt-get update
apt-get -y install subversion mariadb-server libmariadbclient-dev apache2 apache2-dev \
libapr1-dev libaprutil1-dev libcurl4-gnutls-dev libmagickwand-dev imagemagick build-essential \
dirmngr curl 

Installing RVM and Ruby 2.4

If you’re uneasy about running a script from the internet, check the official detailed instructions for more security:  https://rvm.io/rvm/security

curl -sSL https://rvm.io/mpapis.asc | gpg --import -
curl -sSL https://get.rvm.io | bash -s stable --ruby=2.4
source /usr/local/rvm/scripts/rvm

Get Redmine

cd /opt/
mkdir redmine
cd redmine/
svn co http://svn.redmine.org/redmine/branches/3.4-stable current #URL can be replaced with latest version
cd current/
mkdir -p tmp tmp/pdf public/plugin_assets
chown -R www-data:www-data files log tmp public/plugin_assets
chmod -R 755 files log tmp public/plugin_assets
mkdir -p /opt/redmine/repos/svn /opt/redmine/repos/git
chown -R www-data:www-data /opt/redmine/repos
cp config/configuration.yml.example config/configuration.yml
cp config/database.yml.example config/database.yml

Fix for utf8mb4

At the moment of writing, there is an issue with migration using utf8mb4 that requires a patch. utf8mb4 mainly prevents a crash when emojis are used. Without the patch, you will have to create the database using utf8 instead of utf8mb4 to prevent the error:

== 28 CreateWikiPages: migrating ==============================================
-- create_table(:wiki_pages)
-> 0.0098s
-- add_index(:wiki_pages, [:wiki_id, :title], {:name=>:wiki_pages_wiki_id_title})
rake aborted!
StandardError: An error has occurred, all later migrations canceled:

Mysql2::Error: Specified key was too long; max key length is 767 bytes: CREATE INDEX `wiki_pages_wiki_id_title` ON `wiki_pages` (`wiki_id`, `title`)

Create a the following file:

nano /opt/redmine/current/config/initializers/ar_innodb_row_format.rb

Edit it as:

ActiveSupport.on_load :active_record do
    module ActiveRecord::ConnectionAdapters
        class AbstractMysqlAdapter
            def create_table_with_innodb_row_format(table_name, options = {})
                table_options = options.reverse_merge(:options => 'ENGINE=InnoDB ROW_FORMAT=DYNAMIC')
                create_table_without_innodb_row_format(table_name, table_options) do |td|
                    yield td if block_given?
            alias_method_chain :create_table, :innodb_row_format

Modify MariaDB configuration:

echo "[mysqld]" > /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/60-innodb-utf8-mb4.cnf
echo "innodb_large_prefix             = 1" >> /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/60-innodb-utf8-mb4.cnf
echo "innodb_file_format              = barracuda" >> /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/60-innodb-utf8-mb4.cnf
echo "innodb_file_per_table           = 1" >> /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/60-innodb-utf8-mb4.cnf

And restart it:

systemctl restart mysqld.service

Thanks Stanislav Tilsh for the solution!

Create the database

Login as root to the database:

mysql -uroot
Note that ‘my_password’ needs to be replaced by a strong password!
CREATE USER 'redmine'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'my_password';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON redmine.* TO 'redmine'@'localhost';

Configure database connection

nano config/database.yml #Edit database configuration

Edit such as:

  adapter: mysql2
  database: redmine
  host: localhost
  username: redmine
  password: "my_password"

Don’t forget to replace “my_password” by your actual password created earlier.

Preserve the indentation, all lines but the first are indented by 2 spaces. Tabs break YAML files!

Installing bundler and passenger

If you have 1GB or less, you will be advised to create a swap file to enable for the compilation to complete sucessfully.

gem install bundler passenger #Install the gems
passenger-install-apache2-module --auto --languages ruby
 #Compile the passenger module for Apache, requires the gem to be installed
passenger-install-apache2-module --snippet > /etc/apache2/conf-available/passenger.conf
a2enconf passenger # Enable the passenger snippet

Now let the bundler install Redmine dependencies

cd /opt/redmine/current
bundle install --without development test
bundle exec rake generate_secret_token
RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rake db:migrate
RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rake redmine:load_default_data # Change fixtures language

nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/redmine.conf

ServerName redmine.domain.com

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerAdmin [email protected]
    ServerName redmine.domain.com

    DocumentRoot /opt/redmine/current/public/

    ## Passenger Configuration
    ## Details at http://www.modrails.com/documentation/Users%20guide%20Apache.html

    PassengerMinInstances 2
    PassengerMaxPoolSize 6
    RailsBaseURI /
    PassengerAppRoot /opt/redmine/current

    # Speeds up spawn time tremendously -- if your app is compatible.
    # RMagick seems to be incompatible with smart spawning
    RailsSpawnMethod smart

    # Keep the application instances alive longer. Default is 300 (seconds)
    PassengerPoolIdleTime 1000

    # Keep the spawners alive, which speeds up spawning a new Application
    # listener after a period of inactivity at the expense of memory.
    RailsAppSpawnerIdleTime 3600

    # Additionally keep a copy of the Rails framework in memory. If you're
    # using multiple apps on the same version of Rails, this will speed up
    # the creation of new RailsAppSpawners. This isn't necessary if you're
    # only running one or 2 applications, or if your applications use
    # different versions of Rails.
    PassengerMaxPreloaderIdleTime 0

    # Just in case you're leaking memory, restart a listener
    # after processing 500 requests
    PassengerMaxRequests 500

    # only check for restart.txt et al up to once every 5 seconds,
    # instead of once per processed request
    PassengerStatThrottleRate 5

    # If user switching support is enabled, then Phusion Passenger will by default run the web application as the owner if the file config/environment.rb (for Rails apps) or config.ru (for Rack apps). This option allows you to override that behavior and explicitly set a user to run the web application as, regardless of the ownership of environment.rb/config.ru.
    PassengerUser www-data
    PassengerGroup www-data

    # By default, Phusion Passenger does not start any application instances until said web application is first accessed. The result is that the first visitor of said web application might experience a small delay as Phusion Passenger is starting the web application on demand. If that is undesirable, then this directive can be used to pre-started application instances during Apache startup.
    PassengerPreStart http://localhost

    <Directory /opt/redmine/current/public/>
       Options FollowSymLinks
       Require all granted

    AddOutputFilter DEFLATE text/html text/plain text/xml application/xml application/xhtml+xml text/javascript text/css
    BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
    BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4.0[678] no-gzip
    BrowserMatch \bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html

    ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/redmine.error.log
    LogLevel warn
    CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/redmine.access.log combined
    ServerSignature Off


Check permissions and fire up Apache

chown -R www-data:www-data /opt/redmine/current/log /opt/redmine/current/Gemfile.lock #Check permissions

a2enmod rewrite
a2enmod headers
a2dissite 000-default
a2ensite redmine
systemctl restart apache2.service

Done! 19 minutes and 56 seconds on the chronometer

Out of curiosity, please add a comment with you completion time and the host on which you did it.
You should now login to your new instance:

Login: admin
Password: admin

Change the default password ASAP!

[Optional] Configure Email delivery

I favor using exim4 as a buffer for outgoing email but you can also configure to deliver directly over an external SMTP.

Option1: Exim relay

Configure exim either as a site (don’t forget to set SPF records accordingly), or as a SMTP relay:

dpkg-reconfigure exim4-config

Edit configuration file:

nano /opt/redmine/current/config/configuration.yml

Option2: Direct delivery

Configure with instruction from official wiki: http://www.redmine.org/projects/redmine/wiki/EmailConfiguration

[Optional] Add SSL/TLS support

Official instructions: https://certbot.eff.org/lets-encrypt/debianstretch-apache

Note that you will need to have configured a domain name for your Redmine instance. (Certbot doesn’t allow certs for IPs)

a2enmod ssl
apt-get update
apt-get -y install python-certbot-apache
#Follow instructions
certbot --authenticator webroot -w /opt/redmine/current/public/ --installer apache

It’s always a good idea to check with SSL Labs’s tool the quality of the SSL implementation: https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/

[Optional] Add a cool theme

Redmine’s default theme feels quite outdated and could be the reason of push back from your users. After testing several, I’m sticking to the PurpleMine2 theme by Grzegorz Rajchman:

To install it:

apt-get install git
cd /opt/redmine/current/public/themes
git clone https://github.com/mrliptontea/PurpleMine2.git

Then login as Administrator in Redmine, go to Administration / Settings then in the Display tab you can edit the Theme

[Optional] Add git support

nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/redmine.conf

Note that if you configured ssl with Certbot, the file to edit will be nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/redmine-le-ssl.conf

And add this in the VirtualHost:

    # /git location for users
    # Git Smart HTTP configuration
    #From the Remine.pm patch file for git-smart-http:
    SetEnv GIT_PROJECT_ROOT /opt/redmine/repos/git/

    ScriptAlias /git/ /usr/lib/git-core/git-http-backend/

    PerlLoadModule Apache::Redmine

    <Location /git>
                AuthName "git repositories"
                Require valid-user
                AuthUserFile /dev/null

        PerlAccessHandler Apache::Authn::Redmine::access_handler
        PerlAuthenHandler Apache::Authn::Redmine::authen_handler

        ## for mysql
        RedmineDSN "DBI:mysql:database=redmine;host=localhost"
        RedmineDbUser "redmine"
        RedmineDbPass "my_password"
        RedmineGitSmartHttp yes

    <Location /sys>
        Require local

Load dependencies and restart Apache:

apt-get -y install git libapache2-mod-perl2 libapache-dbi-perl libauthen-simple-ldap-perl libdbd-mysql-perl
ln -s /opt/redmine/current/extra/svn/Redmine.pm /usr/share/perl5/Apache/
a2enmod perl cgi alias env cgi
service apache2 restart




  1. Zer00CooL March 25, 2019 4:17 am  Reply

    I can\’t use this tutorial with Debian stretch.
    I have change ruby 2.4 with ruby 2.6.2

    bundle install –without development test
    The dependency tzinfo-data (>= 0) will be unused by any of the platforms Bundler is installing for. Bundler is installing for ruby but the dependency is only for x86-mingw32, x64-mingw32, x86-mswin32. To add those platforms to the bundle, run `bundle lock –add-platform x86-mingw32 x64-mingw32 x86-mswin32`.
    # ….
    bundler could not find compatible versions for gem \”bundler\”:
    In Gemfile:
    bundler (>= 1.5.0, = 0) will be unused by any of the platforms Bundler is installing for. Bundler is installing for ruby but the dependency is only for x86-mingw32, x64-mingw32, x86-mswin32. To add those platforms to the bundle, run `bundle lock –add-platform x86-mingw32 x64-mingw32 x86-mswin32`.
    Fetching gem metadata from https://rubygems.org/………….
    Fetching gem metadata from https://rubygems.org/.
    Resolving dependencies…
    Bundler could not find compatible versions for gem \”bundler\”:
    In Gemfile:
    bundler (>= 1.5.0, = 1.5.0, < 2.0.0)\' in any of the relevant sources:
    the local ruby installation

    You can see all her :

  2. Zer00CooL March 25, 2019 11:02 pm  Reply

    Thanks for your quick answer.
    I continued to investigate this problem, I was able to identify:

    First :
    How to install the correct version of the bundle:
    # Delete all the gems.
    rvm all do gem uninstall bundler
    # Remove gems based on their version.
    rvm 2.0.1 do gem uninstall bundler
    # Install your own version of the gems.
    gem install bundler -v ‘~> 1.9.0’

    Then, the mysql2 gem did not install. I was able to identify the package to install: default-libmysqlclient-dev to replace libmysqlclient-dev

    The equivalent package for mariadb is libmariadbclient-dev
    sudo apt install default-libmysqlclient-dev

    Now, the installation should be functional with Debian 9.5 and the latest version of Redmine on svn branch 3.4 (http://svn.redmine.org/redmine/branches/3.4-stable current).

  3. Zer00CooL March 25, 2019 11:11 pm  Reply

    To improve your tutorial, it would be nice to include how to update the database, this is essential for people who want to deploy Redmine, and not necessarily easy to understand.

    Check if its lines can match for your tutorial, and, when to include them, or, adapt them if necessary:
    $ bundle exec rake generate_secret_token RAILS_ENV = production
    $ exec rake bundle db: migrate RAILS_ENV = production
    $ bundle exec redmine rake: plugins: migrate RAILS_ENV = production
    $ bundle exec rake tmp: cache: clear tmp: sessions: clear RAILS_ENV = production

    Information from the first tutorial presented on my wiki: https://wiki.visionduweb.fr/index.php?title=Installer_Redmine_sur_Debian_avec_RVM#Installation_:_Installation_et_mise_.C3.A0_jour_de_Redmine

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