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unicorn_rails - unicorn launcher for Rails 1.x and 2.x users


unicorn_rails [-c CONFIG_FILE] [-E RAILS_ENV] [-D] [RACKUP_FILE]


A rackup(1)-like command to launch ancient Rails (2.x and earlier) applications using Unicorn. Rails 3 (and later) support Rack natively, so users are encouraged to use unicorn(1) instead of unicorn_rails(1).

It is expected to be started in your Rails application root (RAILS_ROOT), but the "working_directory" directive may be used in the CONFIG_FILE.

The outward interface resembles rackup(1), the internals and default middleware loading is designed like the script/server command distributed with Rails.

While Unicorn takes a myriad of command-line options for compatibility with ruby(1) and rackup(1), it is recommended to stick to the few command-line options specified in the SYNOPSIS and use the CONFIG_FILE as much as possible.


-c, --config-file CONFIG_FILE
Path to the Unicorn-specific config file. The config file is implemented as a Ruby DSL, so Ruby code may executed. See the RDoc/ri for the Unicorn::Configurator class for the full list of directives available from the DSL. Using an absolute path for for CONFIG_FILE is recommended as it makes multiple instances of Unicorn easily distinguishable when viewing ps(1) output.
-D, --daemonize
Run daemonized in the background. The process is detached from the controlling terminal and stdin is redirected to "/dev/null". Unlike many common UNIX daemons, we do not chdir to "/" upon daemonization to allow more control over the startup/upgrade process. Unless specified in the CONFIG_FILE, stderr and stdout will also be redirected to "/dev/null". Daemonization will skip loading of the Rails::Rack::LogTailer middleware under Rails >= 2.3.x. By default, unicorn_rails(1) will create a PID file in "RAILS_ROOT/tmp/pids/". You may override this by specifying the "pid" directive to override this Unicorn config file.
-E, --env RAILS_ENV
Run under the given RAILS_ENV. This sets the RAILS_ENV environment variable. Acceptable values are exactly those you expect in your Rails application, typically "development" or "production".
-l, --listen ADDRESS
Listens on a given ADDRESS. ADDRESS may be in the form of HOST:PORT or PATH, HOST:PORT is taken to mean a TCP socket and PATH is meant to be a path to a UNIX domain socket. Defaults to "" (all addresses on TCP port 8080). For production deployments, specifying the "listen" directive in CONFIG_FILE is recommended as it allows fine-tuning of socket options.


-o, --host HOST
Listen on a TCP socket belonging to HOST, default is "" (all addresses). If specified multiple times on the command-line, only the last-specified value takes effect. This option only exists for compatibility with the rackup(1) command, use of "-l"/"--listen" switch is recommended instead.
-p, --port PORT
Listen on the specified TCP PORT, default is 8080. If specified multiple times on the command-line, only the last-specified value takes effect. This option only exists for compatibility with the rackup(1) command, use of "-l"/"--listen" switch is recommended instead.
--path PATH
Mounts the Rails application at the given PATH (instead of "/"). This is equivalent to setting the RAILS_RELATIVE_URL_ROOT environment variable. This is only supported under Rails 2.3 or later at the moment.


-e, --eval LINE
Evaluate a LINE of Ruby code. This evaluation happens immediately as the command-line is being parsed.
-d, --debug
Turn on debug mode, the $DEBUG variable is set to true. For Rails >= 2.3.x, this loads the Rails::Rack::Debugger middleware.
-w, --warn
Turn on verbose warnings, the $VERBOSE variable is set to true.
-I, --include PATH
specify $LOAD_PATH. PATH will be prepended to $LOAD_PATH. The ':' character may be used to delimit multiple directories. This directive may be used more than once. Modifications to $LOAD_PATH take place immediately and in the order they were specified on the command-line.
-r, --require LIBRARY
require a specified LIBRARY before executing the application. The "require" statement will be executed immediately and in the order they were specified on the command-line.


This defaults to "" in RAILS_ROOT. It should be the same file used by rackup(1) and other Rack launchers, it uses the Rack::Builder DSL. Unlike many other Rack applications, RACKUP_FILE is completely optional for Rails, but may be used to disable some of the default middleware for performance.

Embedded command-line options are mostly parsed for compatibility with rackup(1) but strongly discouraged.


The RAILS_ENV variable is set by the aforementioned -E switch. The RAILS_RELATIVE_URL_ROOT is set by the aforementioned --path switch. Either of these variables may also be set in the shell or the Unicorn CONFIG_FILE. All application or library-specific environment variables (e.g. TMPDIR, RAILS_ASSET_ID) may always be set in the Unicorn CONFIG_FILE in addition to the spawning shell. When transparently upgrading Unicorn, all environment variables set in the old master process are inherited by the new master process. Unicorn only uses (and will overwrite) the UNICORN_FD environment variable internally when doing transparent upgrades.


The following UNIX signals may be sent to the master process:
HUP - reload config file, app, and gracefully restart all workers
INT/TERM - quick shutdown, kills all workers immediately
QUIT - graceful shutdown, waits for workers to finish their current request before finishing.
USR1 - reopen all logs owned by the master and all workers See Unicorn::Util.reopen_logs for what is considered a log.
USR2 - reexecute the running binary. A separate QUIT should be sent to the original process once the child is verified to be up and running.
WINCH - gracefully stops workers but keep the master running. This will only work for daemonized processes.
TTIN - increment the number of worker processes by one
TTOU - decrement the number of worker processes by one

See the SIGNALS ( document for full description of all signals used by Unicorn.


Rack::Builder ri/RDoc
Unicorn::Configurator ri/RDoc
unicorn RDoc
Rack RDoc
Rackup HowTo


The Unicorn Community <>.
September 17, 2009 Unicorn User Manual