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Josh Cheek Author • Edited

They're for setting your shell up so that when you type ruby or node, you get the right version of Ruby / Node. Eg on my current machine, I have: the system Ruby and 4 other versions. It becomes important when you need a specific version (eg b/c you use some recent feature or are avoiding some breaking change) or when you start using it for serious development (because you'll want to install packages without needing root permissions). If you're familiar with Python, both Python 2 and Python 3 are heavily used still, so it would be like switching out which version python mapped to (eg pyenv and virtualenv). Or if you've used xcode-select, it's like that.