Simple ruby setup on ubuntu

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Today I setup a new development machine. My preferred OS is Xubuntu, which is Ubuntu + XFCE (a light window manager). In the past I’ve used RVM and have been happy with it, except for one thing: compiling.

I used to use Gentoo, which is a linux distribution in which all software is installed by downloading the source and compiling. This is a brutal and intense introduction to linux, and I learned a hell of a lot using Gentoo in college. However, I feel like I’ve paid my dues in linux boot camp and now I want to simply install binary packages and have a ruby setup lightning-quick.

So, here were my steps to get ruby (and postgres) setup:


Install ruby, rubygems, a few dependencies and postgres: libxslt1-dev libxml2-dev build-essential g++ ruby1.9.1-dev postgresql libpq-dev.

Bundler and gem-scoping

The only remaining issue is how to manage sets of gems between projects. I chose to do something here which leverages one of bundler’s great features to achieve a halfway gemset solution. It is not exclusive of gems installed globally, but it gives priority to local binaries over global ones.

In your .bashrc (or whatever shell init script):

alias bundle-bootstrap="bundle install --binstubs=.bundle/bin --path=.bundle/gems"
export GEM_HOME=$HOME/.gems
export PATH=.bundle/bin:$GEM_HOME/bin:$PATH

The bundler alias will put binstubs (shell scripts that run a gem’s binary) into the current directory’s .bundle/bin. It also says to store the gem sources in .bundle/gems. This means that as soon as you leave this directory, it’s like those gems aren’t even installed!

The second line puts the current directory’s .bundle/bin as the highest priority for finding binaries, followed by my home directory’s gems binary folder. This means that local gem binaries take precedent. That means no more bundle exec.

The third line sets up my gem home so if I just run gem install they go to my home. This is where I put bundler, jekyll, heroku, etc.

Setting up a project

So, when I setup a new project, it looks like:

git clone
cd repo

Now everything is installed and setup. Binaries are available but don’t contaminate any other projects.

Hope this helps all my fellow linux rubyists on having a fast and clean ruby install!

xoxo @ngauthier

P.S.: if you need ruby 1.8.7, check out rbenv, which is now in APT as of 12.04. You can install ruby 1.8 from APT then use rbenv to switch rubies. I haven’t used it myself but it seems to be what people prefer.

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