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Next Generation Ubuntu Ruby Packages

We’ve been providing optimized Ruby 1.8 and Rubygems 1.3.7 packages for Ubuntu for years now but some technical issues prevented us from providing 1.9.3 packages alongside them. So we started out afresh from the very latest Debian 1.8.7 and 1.9.3 packages, and added:

So this gives you Ruby 1.8.7, Ruby 1.9.3 and Rubygems 1.8.21 on Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid through to the upcoming Ubuntu 12.04 Precise. You can install both Ruby 1.8.7 and 1.9.3 alongside each other and switch between them effortlessly. We’ve also updated our Passenger packages to work with both versions of Ruby (and our NGINX Passenger packages too).


All the above packages are available right now for testing in our experimental Launchpad package repository. You can add the repository to your servers like this:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:brightbox/ruby-ng-experimental
sudo apt-get update

and you can install or upgrade ruby like this:

sudo apt-get install ruby rubygems ruby-switch

If you’re upgrading, some packages have been replaced so you will see apt removing some packages (such as rubygems1.8, irb1.8 and others) – don’t panic :)

To install Ruby 1.9.3:

sudo apt-get install ruby1.9.3

And you can run the different versions of ruby like this:

$ ruby1.8 -v
ruby 1.8.7 (2012-02-08 MBARI 8/0x8770 on patchlevel 358) [i486-linux], MBARI 0x8770, Ruby Enterprise Edition 2012.02

$ ruby1.9.3 -v
ruby 1.9.3p125 (2012-02-16 revision 34643) [i486-linux]

$ gem1.8 install bundler

$ gem1.9.3 install bundler

Switching the default Ruby version

You can also switch the default Ruby version back and forth between 1.8 and 1.9.3 using the ruby-switch tool:

$ ruby -v
ruby 1.8.7 (2012-02-08 MBARI 8/0x8770 on patchlevel 358) [i486-linux], MBARI 0x8770, Ruby Enterprise Edition 2012.02

$ ruby-switch --list

$ sudo ruby-switch --set ruby1.9.1
update-alternatives: using /usr/bin/ruby1.9.1 to provide /usr/bin/ruby (ruby) in manual mode.
update-alternatives: using /usr/bin/gem1.9.1 to provide /usr/bin/gem (gem) in manual mode.

$ ruby -v
ruby 1.9.3p125 (2012-02-16 revision 34643) [i486-linux]

(note that Ruby 1.9.3 shows as 1.9.1, due to a historical Debian thing about binary compatibility)

Gem binaries

The binaries installed by gems (such as bundler’s “bundle” command) might not automatically use the current default version of ruby (preferring the version that was default at the time it was installed). In that case, you can run it under a specific version like this:

$ ruby1.9.1 -S bundle -v
Bundler version 1.1.3

Rubygems Compatibility

Note that some older versions of Rails do not work with the latest versions of Rubygems - if you're using our Rubygems 1.3.7 packages and don't want to upgrade them, you can pin them like this:

cat <<EOF > /etc/apt/preferences.d/rubygems
Package: rubygems
Pin: version 1.3.*
Pin-Priority: 600
Package: rubygems1.8
Pin: version 1.3.*
Pin-Priority: 600

Passenger Support

Our passenger packages have been updated to support switching between 1.8.7 and 1.9.3. By default it supports 1.8.7, and to add 1.9.3 support just install the package:

$ sudo apt-get install passenger-common1.9.1

Then you can safely switch the default ruby to 1.9.3, or tell Passenger to use it directly.


We’re already using these packages in a few places and have found them stable but they need more testing. Please do have a play with them and report back with any successes or failures (to

docs/ruby-ng.1334079928.txt.gz · Last modified: 2012/04/10 18:45 by johnleach

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