Disable Rails bootsnap in Production

We recently upgraded many of our services to Rails 5.2 which installs bootsnap to make start-up faster. However, bootsnap depends on caching data to the local file system and our production containers run with read-only file systems for security. So I decided to remove bootsnap in production:

# Gemfile
group :development, :test do
gem 'bootsnap', '~>; 1.3'

# config/boot.rb
require "bundler/setup" # Set up gems listed in the Gemfile.
require "bootsnap/setup" # Speed up boot time by caching expensive operations.
rescue LoadError
# bootsnap is an optional dependency, so if we don't have it it's fine
# Do not load in production because file system (where cache would be written) is read-only

The code above makes two changes:

  1. It only loads bootsnap in :development and :test environments. When production images are created we exclude those environments from the bundle.
  2. It fails gracefully if bootsnap isn’t loaded.

These changes were mostly based on a change that GitLab did to accomplish the same thing (although for different reasons). There was discussion on the bootsnap issues about disabling it in production but the solution was much more convoluted. This is a nice simple change.

I’m not yet convinced that we should even be running bootsnap. It’s stated purpose is to “Boot large Ruby/Rails apps faster”, but we try to keep services small. In one service I found the following differences:

With bootsnap:

real	0m2.094s
user	0m1.743s
sys	0m0.353s

Without bootsnap:

real	0m5.124s
user	0m3.590s
sys	0m1.527s

So while it does save 3 seconds I am not sure that makes that much of a difference to our daily life for development or testing.


4 thoughts on “Disable Rails bootsnap in Production

    1. I don’t know of any other way to make an optional `require`. That is, to `require` a file only if a gem is loaded.
      That said, I’ll point out that we’ve just removed bootsnap completely from our services, per the final comment. It’s not really making a big difference in performance for development and it clearly is buggy.

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