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Installing Forem on Windows 10

Installing prerequisites

These prerequisites assume you're working on a 64-bit Windows 10 operating system machine

  • updated to version 1903, Build 18362 or higher for x64 system
  • updated to version 2004, Build 19041 or higher for ARM64 system

For further information regarding system requirements, head over to the Microsoft Docs or Microsoft's blog on extending WSL 2 Support.

To check your Windows version, press Win Logo key + R, type winver, then click OK.

There are other ways to get Forem running on lower versions, but we recommend a complete WSL 2 installation.

Installing WSL

Since Forem's codebase is using the Ruby on Rails framework, we will need to install the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). Some dependencies used by the source code triggered errors when installing on Windows, so using WSL allows you to work on the software and not having to fix gem incompatibilities.

Follow the instructions for Installing the Windows Subsystem for Linux. Once you've installed WSL, complete all the instructions under the following sections in the link above:

  1. Update to WSL 2.
  2. Enable the "Virtual Machine Platform" optional component. Be sure to reboot your machine after this step.
  3. Set WSL 2 as your default version.

Once all the steps mentioned above are completed, install Ubuntu 18.04 on Windows.

On your first run, the system will ask for username and password. Take note of both since it will be used for sudo commands. More information about the process can be found at create a user account and password for your new Linux distribution

Installing rbenv

rbenv is a version manager for Ruby applications which allows one to guarantee that the Ruby version in development environment matches production. First, install Ruby language dependencies before installing rbenv:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install git-core curl zlib1g-dev build-essential libssl-dev libreadline-dev libyaml-dev libsqlite3-dev sqlite3 libxml2-dev libxslt1-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev software-properties-common libffi-dev

Now, we install rbenv using the following commands:

git clone ~/.rbenv
echo 'export PATH="$HOME/.rbenv/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bashrc
echo 'eval "$(rbenv init -)"' >> ~/.bashrc
exec $SHELL

git clone ~/.rbenv/plugins/ruby-build
echo 'export PATH="$HOME/.rbenv/plugins/ruby-build/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bashrc
exec $SHELL

One can verify rbenv installation using the rbenv-doctor script with the following commands:

curl -fsSL | bash

Installing nvm

As a pre-requisite to install Rails, Node.js needs to be installed. nvm is a Node.js version manager that helps a developer select a specific Node.js version for development.

To install nvm, follow the instructions outlined in the official nvm documentation.

Be sure to reload the shell with the command exec $SHELL after the installation is complete.

Run the following command to verify that nvm is installed:

command -v nvm

If the shell outputs nvm, the installation is successful. Installation of the correct Node.js version will be done in a later part of the installation process.


The fastest way to install Yarn for WSL would be from Debian package repository. Configure the repository with the following commands:

curl -sS | sudo apt-key add -
echo "deb stable main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/yarn.list

Since we do not have Node.js installed yet, we will be installing Yarn without the default Node.js with the following command:

sudo apt update && sudo apt install --no-install-recommends yarn

To verify Yarn's installation, run the command yarn -v. It should print Yarn requires Node.js 4.0 or higher to be installed.. This indicates that the Yarn installation succeeded but Node.js still needs to be installed for it to work fully. We install Node.js later on in the installation process.


Forem requires PostgreSQL version 11 or higher. To Install PostgreSQL on WSL, follow steps under the PostgreSQL APT Repository section.

Once Installed, perform the following steps in order to set up a username and password for PostgreSQL:

  1. Use sudo -i service postgresql start to start the server.

  2. Next, replace $YOUR_USERNAME in the following commands with your Linux Username and execute them:

    sudo -u postgres createuser -s $YOUR_USERNAME
    sudo -u $YOUR_USERNAME psql
  3. You should now be in PostgreSQL's shell interface. Execute \password to set a password for your PostgreSQL user.

  4. Be sure to make a note of your username and password for future use. Exit PostgreSQL by executing the command \quit.

For additional configuration options, check our PostgreSQL setup guide.


Forem uses ImageMagick to manipulate images on upload.

ImageMagick can be installed to WSL via installing its imagemagick package with the following command:

sudo apt update && sudo apt install imagemagick

To verify its installation, run identify -version command.


Forem requires Redis version 6.0 or higher.

We recommend to follow this guide to run Redis under WSL.

Installing Forem

  1. Fork Forem's repository, eg.

  2. Clone your forked repository, eg. git clone<your-username>/forem.git

  3. Open the cloned forem folder in terminal with cd forem. Next, install Ruby with the following commands:

    rbenv install $(cat .ruby-version)
    rbenv global $(cat .ruby-version)
    ruby -v
  4. Install Node.js with the following set of commands:

    nvm install $(cat .nvmrc)
    nvm use $(cat .nvmrc)
    node -v
    yarn -v
  5. Install bundler with gem install bundler

  6. Set up your environment variables/secrets

    • Take a look at .env_sample. This file lists all the ENV variables we use and provides a fake default for any missing keys.

    • If you use a remote computer as dev env, you need to set APP_DOMAIN variable to the remote computer's domain name.

    • The backend guide will show you how to get free API keys for additional services that may be required to run certain parts of the app.

    • For any key that you wish to enter/replace:

      1. Create .env by copying from the provided template (ie. with bash: cp .env_sample .env). This is a personal file that is ignored in git. If you don't need to override any environment variables, continue with the next step as our setup script will automatically create a default .env file.
      2. Obtain the development variable and apply the key you wish to enter/replace. ie:
    • You do not need "real" keys for basic development. Some features require certain keys, so you may be able to add them as you go. The test environment is isolated from changes to the .env file, if you want to set variables in both test and development, use a file named .env.local, or modify .env.test.local and .env.development.local.

  7. After ensuring that the PostgreSQL server and the Redis server are running, run bin/setup.

    The bin/setup script is responsible for installing a variety of dependencies. One can find it inside the bin folder by the name of setup.

    • Its first task is to install the bundler gem. Next, it will make bundler install all the gems, including Rails, located in Gemfile in the root of the repository. It also installs foreman.
    • It then installs JavaScript dependencies using the script in bin/yarn file. These dependencies are located in package.json in the root of the repository.
    • Next, it uses various Rake files located inside the lib folder for the PostgreSQL database creation and updation.
    • Finally it cleans up all the log files and restarts the Puma server.

Possible error messages

  1. There is a possibility that you might encounter a statement timeout when seeding the database for the first time. Please increase the value of statement_timeout to 9999999 in config/database.yml.

  2. If the installation process failed with the following error ERROR: Error installing pg. Please consider installing the following package libpq-dev :

sudo apt-get install libpq-dev
  1. If the command bin/setup fails at installing cld-0.8.0 with the warnings 'aclocal-1.10' is missing on your system and 'automake-1.10' is missing on your system. Please install automake-1.10 using the commands below.
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install autoconf
tar xf automake-1.10.tar.gz
cd automake-1.10/
./configure --prefix=/usr/local

WSL2 and System test

In WSL2, hostname/IP address are no longer shared between Windows and Linux. There are currently two work-arounds.

  1. Use dockerized selenium, ie docker-selenium. You will need docker for the following steps

    1. docker run -d --name selenium-hub -p 4444:4444 selenium/hub:3.141.59-20200409
    2. CH=$(docker run --rm --name=ch --link selenium-hub:hub -v /dev/shm:/dev/shm selenium/node-chrome:3.141.59-20200409)
    3. Add export SELENIUM_URL="http://localhost:4444/wd/hub" to your .env
    4. Run your System test!
  2. Port forward with socats (more info needed).

If you encountered any errors that you subsequently resolved, please consider updating this section with your errors and their solutions.

WSL2 and End to End Tests

In order to run Cypress Test Runner, a few extra setup steps are required to run GUIs natively inside of WSL2.

This guide explains how to use graphical user interfaces like Cypress inside WSL2.