The following instructions allow a user to go from zero to hero with Gigalixir, Phoenix, and Mix. This guide uses the latest versions:

Distillery is incompatible with OTP 25 and newer, so this guide is using:

Last updated/tested on 2023-06-20.

Deprecation Warning
Distillery is now considered DEPRECATED. The official notice is on Distillery’s github page.

Gigalixir is recommending users move to Elixir Releases.


This guide utilizes these tools:

With these tools set up, let’s get started!

Install Erlang, Elixir, and Node

Use ASDF and NVM to install the versions we want.

asdf install erlang
asdf install elixir 1.15.0
nvm install v20.3.1

Now set the versions as active.

asdf local erlang
asdf local elixir 1.15.0
nvm use 20.3.1

Install Phoenix Framework

Install hex

mix local.hex

Get the latest version of Phoenix and install it.

mix archive.install hex phx_new

Create a new phoenix application

Create the phoenix application, in this case distillery_example is the name of the application. You will probably want use some other name.

mix distillery_example --install

Now move into the new project directory and make it a git repository.

cd distillery_example
git init
git add .
git commit -m "initial commit: mix"

Set the versions for the buildpacks to use

Gigalixir uses a buildpack system. We can set the versions in the elixir_buildpack.config and phoenix_static_buildpack.config to ensure a consistent environment between development and production.

echo "elixir_version=1.15.0" > elixir_buildpack.config
echo "erlang_version=" >> elixir_buildpack.config
echo "node_version=20.3.1" > phoenix_static_buildpack.config

git add elixir_buildpack.config phoenix_static_buildpack.config
git commit -m "set elixir, erlang, and node version"

Esbuild support

Gigalixir has esbuild installed, but we need to tell the buildpacks how to compile our assets.

mkdir -p assets

echo '{
  "scripts": {
    "deploy": "cd .. && mix assets.deploy && rm -f _build/esbuild"
}' > assets/package.json

git add assets/package.json
git commit -m "compile assets on build"

Add distillery

We need to add distillery to our mix.exs file as a dependency. You can do that manually or the following will add it to the top of the list.

sed -i '/{:phoenix, "~> .*"},/i \      {:distillery, "~> 2.1"},' mix.exs

Then we need to install the deps.

mix deps.get

Next we initialize distillery.

mix distillery.init

To deploy with distillery we need to remove the config/runtime.exs file, but keep the content.

cat config/runtime.exs >> config/prod.exs
rm config/runtime.exs

git add mix.exs mix.lock config/prod.exs config/runtime.exs rel/
git commit -m "add distillery"

Create the gigalixir app and database

The default phoenix application is going to require a DATABASE_URL. In the below example, we create a free tier database. If you plan to use this application for production, consider the [standard tier database].

APP_NAME=$(gigalixir create)
gigalixir pg:create --free

Setup the web endpoint

The newer versions of phoenix can quickly be deployed by setting the PHX_HOST and PHX_SERVER environment variables instead of editing the endpoint configuration. For custom domains you will want to make further modifications.

gigalixir config:set PHX_HOST=${APP_NAME}
gigalixir config:set PHX_SERVER=true

Push to gigalixir and prosper

We are ready to deploy.

git push -u gigalixir main

You can monitor the deployment using gigalixir ps. If you run into issues, check gigalixir logs.

As always, if you hit any issues, we’re one email away to help. Just write us at Gigalixir Support.