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Set Up Rbenv Revisited

I have been working on setting up a new operating system distribution. I took some time to test out a different package manager, but ended up going back to my familiar toolset. This article will talk about package manager to manage Ruby version.

Package Managers

So what is a package manager?

A package manager or package-management system is a collection of software tools that automates the process of installing, upgrading, configuring, and removing computer programs for a computer's operating system consistently.

They give you the ability to manage multiple versions of the same packages (i.e. Node.js, Ruby, etc.).

When it comes to Ruby, there are three major package managers to consider.

RVM - When I first started learning Ruby almost two years ago, and set up my MacBook Pro, I started with RVM. It worked fine, and I had no real issues. However, it seemed heavy, computer resource wise.

ASDF - this is a different package manager as it is language agnostic. You can install a plugin for the respect language (i.e. Ruby, nodejs, etc.). I recently tried this one, but have returned to rbenv, just because I prefer it and the Node package manger I use.

RBENV - this is my preference, and the focus of this article. A major pull of rbenv for me is that it's lighter, and by that I mean that it doesn't have to throw as many hooks into your computer system as rvm, although there is some load to the terminal. This is the exact same reason I prefer N to manage Node versus NVM, because there is ZERO terminal load. This may be the source of another article.

Enter the Clones

So, Homebrew offers a rbenv package install, and Ubuntu does as well. I have used both, but I prefer to have more control, so I just clone the repositories.
To set up RBENV there is the default way:

  • Clone rbenv to .rbenv
  • Clone rbenv-build to .rbenv/plugins
  • Set up .rbenv/bin in your $PATH
  • Set up .rbenv/bin/rbenv init in your shell
  • Restart shell
  • Run rbenv-doctor script to verify installation

There is thankfully an easier install script. This script installs or updates rbenv on your system. If Homebrew is detected, installation will proceed using brew install/upgrade. Otherwise, rbenv is installed under ~/.rbenv. Additionally, ruby-build is also installed if rbenv install is not already available. After the installation, a separate rbenv-doctor script is run to verify the success of the installation and to detect common issues.

# with curl
curl -fsSL | bash

# alternatively, with wget
wget -q -O- | bash
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Default Gems

There in one rbenv plugin which I prefer to set up and that is rbenv-default-gems. This plugin will manage installing a select set of gems whenever you update your version of ruby. Install the plugin:

git clone $(rbenv root)/plugins/rbenv-default-gems
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Create a simple text file: touch ~/.rbenv/default-gems. In this file create your link of preferred gems to install/update:

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Now install your ruby version: rbenv install 3.0.0


When new versions of Ruby are releases it is important to update rbenv. There are two ways to do this. Since, you have literally cloned the repository, you can git pull, but there are two directories to do that in:

cd ~/.rbenv
git pull
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And for ruby-build

cd ~/.rbenv/plugins/ruby-build
git pull
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Check on Ruby versions to install:

# list latest stable versions:
$ rbenv install -l

# list all local versions:
$ rbenv install -L

# install a Ruby version:
$ rbenv install 2.7.2
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This has been fun. Leave a comment or send me a DM on Twitter.

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