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rbenv

Description

Groom your app’s Ruby environment

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Groom your app’s Ruby environment with rbenv.

Use rbenv to pick a Ruby version for your application and guarantee that your development environment matches production. Put rbenv to work with Bundler for painless Ruby upgrades and bulletproof deployments.

Powerful in development. Specify your app's Ruby version once, in a single file. Keep all your teammates on the same page. No headaches running apps on different versions of Ruby. Just Works™ from the command line and with app servers like Pow. Override the Ruby version anytime: just set an environment variable.

Rock-solid in production. Your application's executables are its interface with ops. With rbenv and Bundler binstubs you'll never again need to

cd
in a cron job or Chef recipe to ensure you've selected the right runtime. The Ruby version dependency lives in one place—your app—so upgrades and rollbacks are atomic, even when you switch versions.

One thing well. rbenv is concerned solely with switching Ruby versions. It's simple and predictable. A rich plugin ecosystem lets you tailor it to suit your needs. Compile your own Ruby versions, or use the ruby-build plugin to automate the process. Specify per-application environment variables with rbenv-vars. See more plugins on the wiki.

Why choose rbenv over RVM?

Table of Contents

How It Works

At a high level, rbenv intercepts Ruby commands using shim executables injected into your

PATH
, determines which Ruby version has been specified by your application, and passes your commands along to the correct Ruby installation.

Understanding PATH

When you run a command like

ruby
or
rake
, your operating system searches through a list of directories to find an executable file with that name. This list of directories lives in an environment variable called
PATH
, with each directory in the list separated by a colon:
/usr/local/bin:/usr/bin:/bin

Directories in

PATH
are searched from left to right, so a matching executable in a directory at the beginning of the list takes precedence over another one at the end. In this example, the
/usr/local/bin
directory will be searched first, then
/usr/bin
, then
/bin
.

Understanding Shims

rbenv works by inserting a directory of shims at the front of your

PATH
:
~/.rbenv/shims:/usr/local/bin:/usr/bin:/bin

Through a process called rehashing, rbenv maintains shims in that directory to match every Ruby command across every installed version of Ruby—

irb
,
gem
,
rake
,
rails
,
ruby
, and so on.

Shims are lightweight executables that simply pass your command along to rbenv. So with rbenv installed, when you run, say,

rake
, your operating system will do the following:
  • Search your
    PATH
    for an executable file named
    rake
  • Find the rbenv shim named
    rake
    at the beginning of your
    PATH
  • Run the shim named
    rake
    , which in turn passes the command along to rbenv

Choosing the Ruby Version

When you execute a shim, rbenv determines which Ruby version to use by reading it from the following sources, in this order:

  1. The

    RBENV_VERSION
    environment variable, if specified. You can use the
    rbenv shell
    command to set this environment variable in your current shell session.
  2. The first

    .ruby-version
    file found by searching the directory of the script you are executing and each of its parent directories until reaching the root of your filesystem.
  3. The first

    .ruby-version
    file found by searching the current working directory and each of its parent directories until reaching the root of your filesystem. You can modify the
    .ruby-version
    file in the current working directory with the
    rbenv local
    command.
  4. The global

    ~/.rbenv/version
    file. You can modify this file using the
    rbenv global
    command. If the global version file is not present, rbenv assumes you want to use the "system" Ruby—i.e. whatever version would be run if rbenv weren't in your path.

Locating the Ruby Installation

Once rbenv has determined which version of Ruby your application has specified, it passes the command along to the corresponding Ruby installation.

Each Ruby version is installed into its own directory under

~/.rbenv/versions
. For example, you might have these versions installed:
  • ~/.rbenv/versions/1.8.7-p371/
  • ~/.rbenv/versions/1.9.3-p327/
  • ~/.rbenv/versions/jruby-1.7.1/

Version names to rbenv are simply the names of the directories in

~/.rbenv/versions
.

Installation

Compatibility note: rbenv is incompatible with RVM. Please make sure to fully uninstall RVM and remove any references to it from your shell initialization files before installing rbenv.

Homebrew on macOS

If you're on macOS, we recommend installing rbenv with Homebrew.

  1. Install rbenv.

    $ brew install rbenv
    

Note that this also installs

ruby-build
, so you'll be ready to install other Ruby versions out of the box.
  1. Set up rbenv in your shell.

    $ rbenv init
    

Follow the printed instructions to set up rbenv shell integration.

  1. Close your Terminal window and open a new one so your changes take effect.

  2. Verify that rbenv is properly set up using this rbenv-doctor script:

    $ curl -fsSL https://github.com/rbenv/rbenv-installer/raw/master/bin/rbenv-doctor | bash
    Checking for `rbenv' in PATH: /usr/local/bin/rbenv
    Checking for rbenv shims in PATH: OK
    Checking `rbenv install' support: /usr/local/bin/rbenv-install (ruby-build 20170523)
    Counting installed Ruby versions: none
      There aren't any Ruby versions installed under `~/.rbenv/versions'.
      You can install Ruby versions like so: rbenv install 2.2.4
    Checking RubyGems settings: OK
    Auditing installed plugins: OK
    
  3. That's it! Installing rbenv includes ruby-build, so now you're ready to install some other Ruby versions using

    rbenv install
    .

Upgrading with Homebrew

To upgrade to the latest rbenv and update ruby-build with newly released Ruby versions, upgrade the Homebrew packages:

$ brew upgrade rbenv ruby-build

Basic GitHub Checkout

For a more automated install, you can use rbenv-installer. If you prefer a manual approach, follow the steps below.

This will get you going with the latest version of rbenv without needing a systemwide install.

  1. Clone rbenv into

    ~/.rbenv
    .
    $ git clone https://github.com/rbenv/rbenv.git ~/.rbenv
    

    Optionally, try to compile dynamic bash extension to speed up rbenv. Don't worry if it fails; rbenv will still work normally:

    $ cd ~/.rbenv && src/configure && make -C src
    
  2. Add

    ~/.rbenv/bin
    to your
    $PATH
    for access to the
    rbenv
    command-line utility.
  • For bash: ~~~ bash $ echo 'export PATH="$HOME/.rbenv/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bash_profile ~~~

  • For Ubuntu Desktop: ~~~ bash $ echo 'export PATH="$HOME/.rbenv/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bashrc ~~~

  • For Zsh: ~~~ zsh $ echo 'export PATH="$HOME/.rbenv/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.zshrc ~~~

  • For Fish shell: ~~~ fish $ set -Ux fishuserpaths $HOME/.rbenv/bin $fishuserpaths ~~~

  1. Set up rbenv in your shell.
   $ ~/.rbenv/bin/rbenv init

Follow the printed instructions to set up rbenv shell integration.

  1. Restart your shell so that PATH changes take effect. (Opening a new terminal tab will usually do it.)

  2. Verify that rbenv is properly set up using this rbenv-doctor script:

    $ curl -fsSL https://github.com/rbenv/rbenv-installer/raw/master/bin/rbenv-doctor | bash
    Checking for `rbenv' in PATH: /usr/local/bin/rbenv
    Checking for rbenv shims in PATH: OK
    Checking `rbenv install' support: /usr/local/bin/rbenv-install (ruby-build 20170523)
    Counting installed Ruby versions: none
      There aren't any Ruby versions installed under `~/.rbenv/versions'.
      You can install Ruby versions like so: rbenv install 2.2.4
    Checking RubyGems settings: OK
    Auditing installed plugins: OK
    
  3. (Optional) Install ruby-build, which provides the

    rbenv install
    command that simplifies the process of installing new Ruby versions.

Upgrading with Git

If you've installed rbenv manually using Git, you can upgrade to the latest version by pulling from GitHub:

$ cd ~/.rbenv
$ git pull

Updating the list of available Ruby versions

If you're using the

rbenv install
command, then the list of available Ruby versions is not automatically updated when pulling from the rbenv repo. To do this manually:
$ cd ~/.rbenv/plugins/ruby-build
$ git pull

How rbenv hooks into your shell

Skip this section unless you must know what every line in your shell profile is doing.

rbenv init
is the only command that crosses the line of loading extra commands into your shell. Coming from RVM, some of you might be opposed to this idea. Here's what
rbenv init
actually does:
  1. Sets up your shims path. This is the only requirement for rbenv to function properly. You can do this by hand by prepending

    ~/.rbenv/shims
    to your
    $PATH
    .
  2. Installs autocompletion. This is entirely optional but pretty useful. Sourcing

    ~/.rbenv/completions/rbenv.bash
    will set that up. There is also a
    ~/.rbenv/completions/rbenv.zsh
    for Zsh users.
  3. Rehashes shims. From time to time you'll need to rebuild your shim files. Doing this automatically makes sure everything is up to date. You can always run

    rbenv rehash
    manually.
  4. Installs the sh dispatcher. This bit is also optional, but allows rbenv and plugins to change variables in your current shell, making commands like

    rbenv shell
    possible. The sh dispatcher doesn't do anything invasive like override
    cd
    or hack your shell prompt, but if for some reason you need
    rbenv
    to be a real script rather than a shell function, you can safely skip it.

Run

rbenv init -
for yourself to see exactly what happens under the hood.

Installing Ruby versions

The

rbenv install
command doesn't ship with rbenv out of the box, but is provided by the ruby-build project. If you installed it either as part of GitHub checkout process outlined above or via Homebrew, you should be able to:
# list latest stable versions:
$ rbenv install -l

list all local versions:

$ rbenv install -L

install a Ruby version:

$ rbenv install 2.0.0-p247

Alternatively to the

install
command, you can download and compile Ruby manually as a subdirectory of
~/.rbenv/versions/
. An entry in that directory can also be a symlink to a Ruby version installed elsewhere on the filesystem. rbenv doesn't care; it will simply treat any entry in the
versions/
directory as a separate Ruby version.

Installing Ruby gems

Once you've installed some Ruby versions, you'll want to install gems. First, ensure that the target version for your project is the one you want by checking

rbenv version
(see Command Reference). Select another version using
rbenv local 2.0.0-p247
, for example. Then, proceed to install gems as you normally would:
$ gem install bundler

You don't need sudo to install gems. Typically, the Ruby versions will be installed and writeable by your user. No extra privileges are required to install gems.

Check the location where gems are being installed with

gem env
:
$ gem env home
# => ~/.rbenv/versions//lib/ruby/gems/...

Uninstalling Ruby versions

As time goes on, Ruby versions you install will accumulate in your

~/.rbenv/versions
directory.

To remove old Ruby versions, simply

rm -rf
the directory of the version you want to remove. You can find the directory of a particular Ruby version with the
rbenv prefix
command, e.g.
rbenv prefix
1.8.7-p357
.

The ruby-build plugin provides an

rbenv uninstall
command to automate the removal process.

Uninstalling rbenv

The simplicity of rbenv makes it easy to temporarily disable it, or uninstall from the system.

  1. To disable rbenv managing your Ruby versions, simply remove the
    rbenv init
    line from your shell startup configuration. This will remove rbenv shims directory from PATH, and future invocations like
    ruby
    will execute the system Ruby version, as before rbenv.

rbenv
will still be accessible on the command line, but your Ruby apps won't be affected by version switching.
  1. To completely uninstall rbenv, perform step (1) and then remove its root directory. This will delete all Ruby versions that were installed under

    `rbenv root`/versions/
    directory:
    rm -rf `rbenv root`
    

If you've installed rbenv using a package manager, as a final step perform the rbenv package removal. For instance, for Homebrew:

    brew uninstall rbenv

Command Reference

Like

git
, the
rbenv
command delegates to subcommands based on its first argument. The most common subcommands are:

rbenv local

Sets a local application-specific Ruby version by writing the version name to a

.ruby-version
file in the current directory. This version overrides the global version, and can be overridden itself by setting the
RBENV_VERSION
environment variable or with the
rbenv shell
command.
$ rbenv local 1.9.3-p327

When run without a version number,

rbenv local
reports the currently configured local version. You can also unset the local version:
$ rbenv local --unset

rbenv global

Sets the global version of Ruby to be used in all shells by writing the version name to the

~/.rbenv/version
file. This version can be overridden by an application-specific
.ruby-version
file, or by setting the
RBENV_VERSION
environment variable.
$ rbenv global 1.8.7-p352

The special version name

system
tells rbenv to use the system Ruby (detected by searching your
$PATH
).

When run without a version number,

rbenv global
reports the currently configured global version.

rbenv shell

Sets a shell-specific Ruby version by setting the

RBENV_VERSION
environment variable in your shell. This version overrides application-specific versions and the global version.
$ rbenv shell jruby-1.7.1

When run without a version number,

rbenv shell
reports the current value of
RBENV_VERSION
. You can also unset the shell version:
$ rbenv shell --unset

Note that you'll need rbenv's shell integration enabled (step 3 of the installation instructions) in order to use this command. If you prefer not to use shell integration, you may simply set the

RBENV_VERSION
variable yourself:
$ export RBENV_VERSION=jruby-1.7.1

rbenv versions

Lists all Ruby versions known to rbenv, and shows an asterisk next to the currently active version.

$ rbenv versions
  1.8.7-p352
  1.9.2-p290
* 1.9.3-p327 (set by /Users/sam/.rbenv/version)
  jruby-1.7.1
  rbx-1.2.4
  ree-1.8.7-2011.03

rbenv version

Displays the currently active Ruby version, along with information on how it was set.

$ rbenv version
1.9.3-p327 (set by /Users/sam/.rbenv/version)

rbenv rehash

Installs shims for all Ruby executables known to rbenv (i.e.,

~/.rbenv/versions/*/bin/*
). Run this command after you install a new version of Ruby, or install a gem that provides commands.
$ rbenv rehash

rbenv which

Displays the full path to the executable that rbenv will invoke when you run the given command.

$ rbenv which irb
/Users/sam/.rbenv/versions/1.9.3-p327/bin/irb

rbenv whence

Lists all Ruby versions with the given command installed.

$ rbenv whence rackup
1.9.3-p327
jruby-1.7.1
ree-1.8.7-2011.03

Environment variables

You can affect how rbenv operates with the following settings:

name

default description

RBENV_VERSION
| | Specifies the Ruby version to be used.
Also see
rbenv shell
RBENV_ROOT
|
~/.rbenv
| Defines the directory under which Ruby versions and shims reside.
Also see
rbenv root
RBENV_DEBUG
| | Outputs debug information.
Also as:
rbenv --debug 
RBENV_HOOK_PATH
| see wiki | Colon-separated list of paths searched for rbenv hooks.
RBENV_DIR
|
$PWD
| Directory to start searching for
.ruby-version
files.

Development

The rbenv source code is hosted on GitHub. It's clean, modular, and easy to understand, even if you're not a shell hacker.

Tests are executed using Bats:

$ bats test
$ bats test/.bats

Please feel free to submit pull requests and file bugs on the issue tracker.

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