If I told you you can get a Meteor app up and running in 5 minutes without having to install anything locally, would you be interested?

Continuing our series on companies developing tools and services to help with Meteor development (see our previous post on Modulus), today I’d like to talk about Nitrous.io.

Nitrous.io is a relatively new service based around a simple concept: giving you access to your own development environment within a browser window, complete with a code editor and a terminal window.

A brand new Nitrous.io box.

Since Nitrous.io has Meteor support built in, you can get any Meteor app up and running in a fresh environment in less than 5 minutes. To illustrate this, let me walk you through running Microscope on a Nitrous.io box.

Installing Meteor & Meteorite

If you prefer videos, you can also check out this lightning talk by the Nitrous.io folks about how to install Meteor on their service.

First, sign up for the service and create a new box. You’ll get the option to choose your development environment, at which point you should pick Node.js:

Make sure you create a Node.js app.

Once the box has been provisioned, you’ll be faced with a blank app, so let’s start by installing Meteor. Nitrous.io provides a built-in way to install packages and services thanks to their autoparts feature. So all you need to do is go to the Nitrous.io console and type:

parts install meteor
Installing Meteor.

Next, let’s install Meteorite. This time, you can simply use the regular install command:

npm install -g meteorite

Cloning Microscope

We can then simply git clone the Microscope repo into our box:

cd workspace
git clone https://github.com/DiscoverMeteor/Microscope.git

All that’s left to do is simply to run our Meteor app as usual:

cd Microscope

You can then see your app running live by going to the “preview” menu and selecting the correct port (3000 by default):

Previewing your live app.

If everything worked correctly, you should see a brand new copy of Microscope running straight from Nitrous.io!

Microscope running on Nitrous.io.

Editing Code

So far, we could’ve done pretty much the same thing with a service like Heroku. So let’s showcase what makes Nitrous.io really special. Go back to your Nitrous.io window and open the header.html file in workspace/Microscope/client/views/includes, then replace the word “Microscope” by something else (say, “FooBar”) and save:

Editing header.html.

As expected, once Meteor restarts you’ll see the change appear live in the preview as well:

Introducing FooBarscope.

This makes Nitrous.io an ideal sandbox to try out Meteor without having to install it locally (for example, if you have a Windows machine), and the perfect companion to, say, working through a book (hint, hint).

Accessing a Specific Commit

Speaking of the book, maybe you’re following along and need to access a specific commit (say, the first one)? No worries, just type:

git checkout chapter2-1

Where chapter2-1 is the tag corresponding to the commit you want to access. You can get a list of all commits over at GitHub.

First Steps

Now that running Meteor is as simple as creating a new account and typing in a few commands, you don’t have any excuse not to get started!

Of course, I recommend giving Discover Meteor a try, but if you’d like a smaller project you can also check out my tutorial on building a Meteor app in 45 minutes.


Some people have reported encountering a Mongo Error 100 complaining about permission issues. If that’s the case, deleting the mongod.lock file should fix the problem. Just type:

rm -R .meteor/local/db/mongod.lock

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