Installing Nesta with RVM

One of the most pleasant things about Nesta is that you get to preview your articles or web design on a site running on your own computer, before you make your changes live on the Internet. Of course, this means that you need to install Nesta on your own computer.

When writing the Quick Start instructions we assumed that we were talking to Ruby developers who would be familiar with installing Ruby apps, but recently Nesta has been attracting some attention from people who don't use Ruby on a regular basis. If you're such a person, and you're having trouble getting Nesta running on your computer, these installation instructions are for you.

We're going to take things slowly in this article, and will only be making one assumption; that your computer already has a version of Ruby installed.

To test whether Ruby is installed, try typing this in a new terminal window (the $ character represents the terminal's prompt and shouldn't be typed):

$ ruby -e 'puts "hello"'

You should see the word "hello" printed on a line of it's own.

If Ruby isn't already installed you'll see an error message that claims that ruby wasn't found. This is easily fixed – head over to the Ruby downloads page and download Ruby for your operating system. Follow the Ruby installation instructions, and then return to this article.

Installing RVM

Okay, so far so good. Now that you've got Ruby setup, we're going to install RVM, the Ruby Version Manager. It's a very nifty script that allows you to install different versions of Ruby (and Ruby code) in your own personal space, without affecting any other software that is already installed on your computer. One of the benefits of this approach is that it makes it very difficult for you to inadvertently break any other Ruby software that may already be installed on your system, which is why we're using it here.

We'll use Ruby's gem command to install rvm. Enter the following into your terminal:

$ gem install rvm

You may find that your computer complains that you don't have permission to create some files. That's okay; either run it as the root user or (preferably, if you're on a Mac or are using a Linux distribution that has sudo configured) re-run the command with sudo (you may have to enter your own password, depending on how your computer is configured):

$ sudo gem install rvm

When rvm has been installed it will print a message telling you that you need to run rvm-install, which will then ask you to edit the ~/.bashrc and ~/.bash_profile config files. Let's do that first. Type the line that starts with cat into the terminal, then copy and paste the following three lines into the terminal. When you're done, press RETURN to move the cursor to a new line and press Ctrl-D.

$ cat >> ~/.bashrc
if [[ -s $HOME/.rvm/scripts/rvm ]]; then
    source $HOME/.rvm/scripts/rvm

Then add the same code to the ~/.bash_profile file (remembering to press Ctrl-D after you've pasted the three lines of text):

$ cat >> ~/.bash_profile
if [[ -s $HOME/.rvm/scripts/rvm ]]; then
    source $HOME/.rvm/scripts/rvm

Now we can run rvm-install:

$ rvm-install

You'll now need to close the terminal and open a new one so that RVM's configuration can take effect.

Now we can use RVM to install a separate version of Ruby (which will never clash with your system's default Ruby installation), and the libraries that we need to run Nesta:

$ rvm install 1.9.2    # this will take some time; put the kettle on
$ rvm 1.9.2 --default

Installing Git

Nesta's source code is distributed using the Git version control system. This means that you need to install Git before you can download Nesta.

Check whether you already have git installed by typing which git in your terminal. If you have git setup you'll see the path to the git program. If you don't, you won't see anything (as in this example below):

$ which git

If you don't have it, head over to and download the latest version. Follow the installation instructions that come with it, then return to these instructions.

Installing Nesta

Okay, that's the hard part over with. You're now ready to follow the instruction's in Nesta's Quick Start section, but we'll repeat them here for you (with some extra explanations) anyway.

First off, we're going to make a new directory to keep our code in (this step is entirely optional; you can put it wherever you like). Then we'll use git to grab the latest version of Nesta:

$ mkdir ~/code
$ cd ~/code
$ git clone git://

Nesta's dependencies can all be installed with a rather nifty dependency manager named Bundler, so we'll install that and then use it to setup the required Ruby libraries:

$ gem install bundler
$ bundle install

Finally, we can configure Nesta, create some sample web pages, and fire up the server:

$ cp config/config.yml.sample config/config.yml
$ bundle exec rake setup:sample_content
$ bundle exec mr-sparkle

At this point you should be able to visit http://localhost:8080/ in your web browser, and view your new web site.

That's it, you're done.

If your site isn't working locally and you can't work out what's gone wrong, feel free to ask for help at

If you want to get really fancy, why not install a theme and then deploy your new site to the Internet with Heroku? It only takes about 10 minutes.

Failing that, have a look through the rest of the documentation.