Once we’ve installed Sphinx and installed ThinkingSphinx on your production server, as well as setting up all of our indexes, we can deploy it to our production servers.


Essentially, the following steps need to be performed for a deployment:

  • stop Sphinx searchd (ensure it’s running)
  • generate Sphinx configuration
  • start Sphinx searchd
  • ensure index is regularly rebuilt

Configuring Sphinx for our production environment includes setting where the PID file and the index files are stored. In your config/sphinx.yml file, set up the following additional parameters:

  pid_file: /path/to/app/shared/tmp/
  searchd_file_path: /path/to/app/shared/db/sphinx

You’ll want to make sure that the application shared folder has db and tmp subdirectories. You’ll also want to double check the permissions of these folders so that the user the application and searchd both runs as can write to both folders.

Before deploying, we generally assume that the Sphinx searchd search daemon is running. You may need to manually configure and run the daemon the first deployment with ThinkingSphinx support added.

Deploying With Capistrano

Deploying via Capistrano is simplified by the included recipe file that comes with the ThinkingSphinx plugin.

The first step is to include the recipe in order to define the necessary tasks for us:

# If you're using Thinking Sphinx as a gem (Rails 3 way):
require 'thinking_sphinx/deploy/capistrano'
# If you're using Thinking Sphinx as a plugin:
require 'vendor/plugins/thinking-sphinx/recipes/thinking_sphinx'

Now we can define our callbacks at the and of deploy.rb in order to make sure that Sphinx is properly configured, indexed, and started on each deploy:

before 'deploy:update_code', 'thinking_sphinx:stop'
after 'deploy:update_code', 'thinking_sphinx:start'

namespace :sphinx do
  desc "Symlink Sphinx indexes"
  task :symlink_indexes, :roles => [:app] do
    run "ln -nfs #{shared_path}/db/sphinx #{release_path}/db/sphinx"

after 'deploy:finalize_update', 'sphinx:symlink_indexes'

The above makes sure we stop the Sphinx searchd search daemon before we update the code. After the code is updated, we reconfigure Sphinx and then restart. We’ll setup a cron job next to keep the indexes up-to-date.

Regularly Rebuilding the Index

One of the side effects of the Sphinx indexing methodology is that it is necessary to constantly rebuild the index in order to be able to search with recent changes. In order to do this, we set up a cron job to run the appropriate command.

In your /etc/crontab file, add the following line to the bottom:

0 * * * * deploy  cd /path/to/app/current && /usr/local/bin/rake thinking_sphinx:index RAILS_ENV=production

Also, you can use the whenever gem to control your Cron tasks from the Rails app. The same job for whenever in config/schedule.rb looks like this:

every 2.minutes do
  rake "thinking_sphinx:index"