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Passenger application layout


All Passenger applications require a compatible filesystem layout to launch and manage a Passenger-backed application. A layout consists of 4 features:

  1. Startup file
    • Passenger loads this file to start the application
    • Startup file names differ by application type (Python, Ruby, Node.js, Meteor)
  2. Document root folder called public/
    • all static content goes here (images, JavaScript, CSS)
  3. Apache configuration file named .htaccess
    • htaccess rules instruct the web server to treat this as a Passenger app
  4. tmp/ folder for miscellany
    • tmp/ is used primarily to control Passenger process restarts

This is an example layout for /var/www/nodejs, a sample Node.js application:

+-- app.js        <-- startup file
+-- public        <-- html-accessible document root
¦   +-- .htaccess <-- apache configuration 
+-- tmp           <-- miscellaneous folder

Application startup files

Of the startup files expected by Passenger, only legacy Ruby on Rails applications expect the startup file to be located a directory down in config/. Every other application type expects the startup file to be one level below public/.

Application Type Startup File

Ruby on Rails >= 3.0, Ruby Rack


Ruby on Rails 1.x and 2.x




Node.js, Meteor


Updated on July 8, 2019

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