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Ruby is a dynamic, interpreted, open source programming language with a focus on simplicity and productivity.

Installing Ruby

The version of Ruby you need to install depends on your requirements. If you are supporting a legacy application, install Ruby 1.9 or 1.8 as necessary. If you are starting a new project, Ruby 2.0 is recommended. Below is a summary of the available versions and how to get them.

Ruby 2.0

To install Ruby 2.0.0, install ruby. Ruby 2.0 includes #RubyGems.

Ruby 1.9

To install Ruby 1.9.3, install ruby1.9. Ruby 1.9 includes RubyGems.


  • Vastly improved performance over 1.8
  • New features for concurrency such as fibers.
  • Various other language improvements, such as an improved CSV parser.


  • Not compatible with many older gems (and Ruby On Rails versions prior to 2.3)
  • Changes in the language might cause older Ruby code not to run, or exhibit unexpected bugs.
Note: Visit to determine if the gems/modules you require are compatible with Ruby 1.9.

Ruby 1.8

To install Ruby 1.8.7, install ruby1.8AUR or ruby-1.8.7-svnAUR from the AUR. Ruby 1.8 does not include RubyGems. Instead, it is available through the rubygems1.8AUR package.

Multiple Versions

If you want to run multiple versions on the same system (e.g. 2.0.0-p0 and 1.9.3-p392), the easiest way is to use RVM or rbenv.


gem is a package manager for Ruby modules (called Gems), somewhat comparable to what pacman is to Arch Linux. The gem command will be installed if you followed the installation instructions above.


To see what gems are installed:

$ gem list

To get information about a gem:

$ gem spec <gem_name>

By default, gem list and gem spec use the --local option, which forces gem to search only the local system. This can be overridden with the --remote flag. Thus, to search for the mysql gem:

$ gem list --remote mysql

To install a gem:

$ gem install mysql

The process can be sped up somewhat if you do not need local documentation:

$ gem install mysql --no-rdoc --no-ri

To update all installed gems:

$ gem update

Running as normal user

When running gem as a normal user, gems are installed into ~/.gem instead of system-wide. This is considered the best way to manage gems on Arch. Unfortunately, not all gems are happy with being installed in this way, and might insist on being installed by root, especially if they have native extensions (compiled C code). This per-user behavior is enabled via /etc/gemrc and can be overridden by a ~/.gemrc file.

To use gems which install binaries, you need to add ~/.gem/ruby/2.0.0/bin to your $PATH.

Running as root

When running as root, the gems will be installed into /root/.gems and will not be installed to /usr/lib/ruby/gems/.

Note: See bug #33327 for more information.

Bundler solves these problems to some extent by packaging gems into your application. See the section below on using bundler.


Bundler allows you to specify which gems your application depends upon, and optionally which version those gems should be. Once this specification is in place, Bundler installs all required gems (including the full gem dependency tree) and logs the results for later inspection. By default, Bundler installs gems into a shared location, but they can also be installed directly into your application. When your application is run, Bundler provides the correct version of each gem, even if multiple versions of each gem have been installed. This requires a little bit of work: applications should be called with bundle exec, and two lines of boilerplate code must be placed in your application's main executable.

To install Bundler:

$ gem install bundler

By default, Bundler installs gems system-wide, which is contrary to the behaviour of gem itself on Arch. To correct this, add the following to your ~/.bashrc:

export GEM_HOME=~/.gem/ruby/2.0.0

To start a new bundle:

$ bundle init

Then edit Gemfile in the current directory (created by bundle init) and list your required gems:

gem "rails", "3.2.9"
gem "mysql"

Run the following to install gems into GEM_HOME:

$ bundle install

Alternatively, run the following to install gems to .bundle in the working directory:

$ bundle install --path .bundle

Don't forget to edit your main executable:

#!/usr/bin/env ruby

# "This will automatically discover your Gemfile, and make all of the gems in
# your Gemfile available to Ruby."
require 'rubygems'
require 'bundler/setup'


Finally, run your program:

bundle exec <main_executable_name.rb>

Managing RubyGems using pacman

Instead of using the gem command directly you can use pacman to manage the installed gems like normal packages. There are a lot of ruby packages available from AUR. Ruby packages follow the naming convention ruby-[gemname]. As an alternative you can use the tool pacgemAUR which automatically creates arch packages from gems and installs them afterwards using pacman.

Warning: Many ruby gem packages in the AUR explicitly use the --no-user-install or --user-install command line switches, bypassing the global setting found in /etc/gemrc or the users own ~/.gemrc. You're editing the PKGBUILD file before you install, right?

See also