One of the tools I love from the ruby world is git-deploy. It is awesome for what it does. And, my current setup is a simple single phoenix server. So, using git-deploy makes sense.

Here are the steps to set it up for posterity.

  1. Install git-deploy on your local computer. You need ruby for this to work: gem install git-deploy
  2. I am assuming that you have an ubuntu based server for this tutorial and that the name of the app is sprymesh. You need to install esl-erlang, elixir and nodejs on the server.

    # install erlang and elixir
    wget && sudo dpkg -i erlang-solutions_1.0_all.deb
    sudo apt-get update
    # make and build-essential are needed by a few apps
    sudo apt-get install esl-erlang elixir make build-essential
    mix local.hex
    mix local.rebar
    mix local.rebar3
    # install nodejs
    curl -sL | sudo -E bash -
    sudo apt-get install -y nodejs
  3. Install postgresql on the server, if it is not already present.
  4. Create a user specific account on the server.

    sudo mkdir -p /opt/www
    # name of my user account is sprymesh
    sudo useradd --home /opt/www/sprymesh --create-home --shell /bin/bash sprymesh
    # create the database user
    sudo -u postgres createuser --echo --no-createrole --no-superuser --createdb sprymesh
    # setup the password for the above pg user and tweak the pg_hba.conf if needed
    sudo -u sprymesh createdb sprymesh_prod
    # test by opening a psql connection
    psql --username=sprymesh --password sprymesh_prod
  5. Add distillery to your deps

    {:distillery, "~> 1.4"},
  6. Create a rel/config.exs

    mix release.init
  7. Create a git tag with the value ‘v1.0’. This is used to build an incrementing version number for our release.

    git tag --annotate --message 'First version' v1.0
  8. Tweak your mix.exs’s version

    def project do
      [app: :danny_web,
       version: app_version(),
      # ...
    defp app_version do
      # get git version
      {ts, 0} = System.cmd("git", ~w[describe])
      _git_version = String.strip(ts) |> String.split("-") |> Enum.take(2) |> Enum.join(".") |> String.replace_leading("v", "")
  9. Add your ssh key to ~sprymesh/.ssh/authorized_keys
  10. Create your git deploy setup

    git remote add prod ""
    git deploy setup -r prod
    git deploy init
  11. Create a /opt/www/sprymesh/env file containing your env vars/secrets

  12. Change deploy/before_restart to something like below

    #!/bin/bash -e
    # source env so that we have all secrets setup
    source <(sed 's/^/export /' ./env)
    # deps are needed
    mix deps.get
    # build the js files
    (cd assets && npm install --no-progress && ./node_modules/brunch/bin/brunch build --production)
    # build release
    mix phoenix.digest
    mix release
  13. Change deploy/restart to

    echo "restarting sprymesh"
    sudo systemctl stop sprymesh.service
    sudo systemctl start sprymesh.service
    echo "finished restarting sprymesh"
  14. Create a systemd init script: Add the following to /etc/systemd/system/sprymesh.service and run the following command

    Description=Sprymesh phoenix app
    ExecStart=/opt/www/sprymesh/_build/prod/rel/sprymesh/bin/sprymesh foreground
    ExecStop=/opt/www/sprymesh/_build/prod/rel/sprymesh/bin/sprymesh stop
  15. Reload the systemd scripts. Run the following commands:

    sudo systemctl daemon-reload
    sudo systemctl enable sprymesh.service
  16. Push our code to the server. Push to prod

    git push prod master
    git push prod --tags
  17. Add a config/prod.secret.exs on the server, tweak it to include all your info. In my setup, I am passing the db info via DATABASE_URL env variable.

    use Mix.Config
    config :danny_web, Danny.Repo,
      adapter: Ecto.Adapters.Postgres,
      pool_size: 10
  18. Add the following to your /etc/sudoers file. You need this so that the app user sprymesh can restart its’ own service

    User_Alias SPRYMESH_APP = sprymesh Cmnd_Alias SM_PROCESS_CTL = /bin/systemctl daemon-reload, /bin/systemctl start sprymesh.service, /bin/systemctl stop sprymesh.service, /bin/systemctl restart sprymesh.service SPRYMESH_APP ALL = NOPASSWD: SM_PROCESS_CTL

  19. Finally login to the server and run the following commands, to do the first deploy

    sudo su sprymesh ~/deploy/after_push

The source for this is hosted at If you find an improvement, send a PR :)