Installing a Gem on Scalingo from a Private Git Repository

You may want to use a gem in your app which is private and stored in a custom Git repository. Note that if this repository is on GitHub, you should follow the page specific to it. Otherwise, if you’re using Gitlab, Bitbucket or your own server, you’re at the right place.

Create a Git wrapper

In the bin directory of your project create a file named git-ssh with the following content:


if [ ! -e "$HOME/.pkey" ] ; then
  echo "$(echo $PKEY | base64 -d)" > "$HOME/.pkey"
  chmod 400 "$HOME/.pkey"

ssh -i "$HOME/.pkey" -o UserKnownHostsFile=/dev/null -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no $1 $2

Make it executable by running chmod on it:

chmod +x bin/git-ssh

This script should be used as a SSH wrapper by Git, to do so you must define the GIT_SSH environment variable which is automatically used by the executable git.

scalingo env-set GIT_SSH=git-ssh

Set the private SSH key in the app environment

The script expect a private key stored in an environment variable named PKEY in base64.

scalingo env-set "PKEY=$(cat private_key | base64 -w 0)"

Obviously, this key should have the permission to clone your private gem repository.

Gemfile: use the SSH URL

The gems you want to checkout should be defined in your Gemfile with the following syntax:

gem "name-of-gem", git: ""


That’s it everything is ready to pull out your private gems during the deployment of your application.

  1. The bundler gem will call the git executable to get the gems
  2. The git binary is the reading the environment variable GIT_SSH to use a custom SSH wrapper
  3. The wrapper dynamically prepare the private key to authenticate to ssh connection
schedule 08 Feb 2017