Run a Pow Server on a VM

It's really pretty cool how easy Pow makes running a Rails server. Powder makes it even easier. Here's how to run your Rails server via Pow on a VM in order to test IE.

Install Pow

Get your Ruby environment otherwise setup for Rails dev. Then install Pow. It's a nice little utility created by the folks at 37 Signals. They have a short little install script you can run, as referenced on the Pow site. Or, you can use a utility created to make it even easier -- powder.

To install, you'll need Rubygems installed, and run:

$ gem install powder

Then link your project to Pow via the command:

$ cd my_proj_dir
$ powder link

Make sure Pow is running:

$ powder up

And access your Pow-powered site by going to your project's address in your browser:

There are other options in the powder link step. For instance, if you want to access your site through an http address different than my_proj_dir you can specify that.

Install your VM

There are a few different VM options. My favorite is VirtualBox. It does hurt a bit seeing the "Oracle" moniker on it, but I've found it to be as responsive as a VM can be and generally stable.

Install Internet Explorer

There really wasn't another reason that you wanted a Windows VM was there?

I've had good success with the project xdissent/ievms. To download the IE-ready images, the README invites us to run this script in our shell:

curl -s | bash

It will download multiple parts of several Windows/IE VM images into ~/.ievms and install them so they're ready to roll with VirtualBox. Run this way, images for Internet Explorer 6, 7, 8, and 9 are all downloaded. If you wanted to just download IE 9, you could run:

curl -s | IEVMS_VERSIONS="9" bash

Either way, this download takes quite a while to complete, but the shell script that's running it takes pretty good care of you, restarting on the last incomplete download part.

Access Pow via VirtualBox

Accessing Pow in the VM isn't bad at all. Pow makes use of, which provides a wildcard DNS entry used by Pow and thus your app.

For the next step, take note of your IP by running ifconfig. Then from IE inside of VirtualBox, point your browser at:

And you should see your project running in the VM just as you do from your better, native OS. Pow!