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Question:

I've created a rails app (rails 4.1) from scratch and I am facing a strange problem that I am not able to solve.

Every time I try to deploy my app on Heroku I get an error 500:

Missing secret_key_base for 'production' environment, set this value in config/secrets.yml

The secret.yml file contains the following configuration:

secret_key_base: <%= ENV["SECRET_KEY_BASE"] %>

On Heroku I have configured an environment variable "SECRET_KEY_BASE" with the result of "rake secret" command. If I launch "heroku config", I can see the variable with the correct name and value.

Why am I still getting this error?

Thanks a lot


Best Answer:


I had the same problem and I solved it by creating an environment variable to be loaded every time that I logged in to the production server and made a mini guide of the steps to configure it:

https://gist.github.com/pablosalgadom/4d75f30517edc6230a67

I was using Rails 4.1 with Unicorn v4.8.2, when I tried to deploy my app it didn't start properly and in the unicorn.log file I found this error message:

app error: Missing `secret_key_base` for 'production' environment, set this value in `config/secrets.yml` (RuntimeError)

After some research I found out that Rails 4.1 changed the way to manage the secret_key, so if you read the secrets.yml file located at exampleRailsProject/config/secrets.yml you'll find something like this:

# Do not keep production secrets in the repository,
# instead read values from the environment.
production:
  secret_key_base: <%= ENV["SECRET_KEY_BASE"] %>

This means that Rails recommends you to use an environment variable for the secret_key_base in your production server, in order to solve this error you should follow this steps to create an environment variable for Linux (in my case Ubuntu) in your production server:

  • In the terminal of your production server execute the next command:

    $ RAILS_ENV=production rake secret

    This returns a large string with letters and numbers, copy that (we will refer to that code as GENERATED_CODE).

  • Login to your server

    • If you login as the root user, find this file and edit it:

      $ vi /etc/profile

      Go to the bottom of the file ("SHIFT + G" for capital G in VI)

      Write your environment variable with the GENERATED_CODE (Press "i" key to write in VI), be sure to be in a new line at the end of the file:

      $ export SECRET_KEY_BASE=GENERATED_CODE

      Save the changes and close the file (we push "ESC" key and then write ":x" and "ENTER" key for save and exit in VI).

    • But if you login as normal user, lets call it "example_user" for this gist, you will need to find one of this other files:

      $ vi ~/.bash_profile
      $ vi ~/.bash_login
      $ vi ~/.profile

      These files are in order of importance, that means that if you have the first file, then you wouldn't need to write in the others. So if you found this 2 files in your directory ~/.bash_profile and ~/.profile you only will have to write in the first one ~/.bash_profile, because Linux will read only this one and the other will be ignored.

      Then we go to the bottom of the file ("SHIFT + G" for capital G in VI).

      And we will write our environment variable with our GENERATED_CODE (Press "i" key to write in VI), be sure to be in a new line at the end of the file:

      $ export SECRET_KEY_BASE=GENERATED_CODE

      Having written the code, save the changes and close the file (we push "ESC" key and then write ":x" and "ENTER" key for save and exit in VI).

  • You can verify that our environment variable is properly set in Linux with this command:

    $ printenv | grep SECRET_KEY_BASE

    or with:

    $ echo $SECRET_KEY_BASE

    When you execute this command, if everything went ok, it will show you the GENERATED_CODE from before. Finally with all the configuration done you should be able to deploy without problems your Rails app with Unicorn or other.

  • When you close your shell terminal and login again to the production server you will have this environment variable set and ready to use it.

    And thats it!! I hope this mini guide help you to solve this error.

    Disclaimer: I'm not a Linux or Rails guru, so if you find something wrong or any error I will be glad to fix it!




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