ruby-build is an rbenv plugin that provides an rbenv install command to compile and install different versions of Ruby on UNIX-like systems.

You can also use ruby-build without rbenv in environments where you need precise control over Ruby version installation.

See the list of releases for changes in each version.

Programming language: Shell
License: MIT License

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ruby-build is a command-line tool that simplifies installation of any Ruby version from source on Unix-like systems.

It is available as a plugin for rbenv as the rbenv install command, or as a standalone program as the ruby-build command.


Homebrew package manager

brew install ruby-build

Upgrade with:

brew update && brew upgrade ruby-build

Clone as rbenv plugin using git

git clone https://github.com/rbenv/ruby-build.git "$(rbenv root)"/plugins/ruby-build

Upgrade with:

git -C "$(rbenv root)"/plugins/ruby-build pull

Install manually as a standalone program

First, download a tarball from https://github.com/rbenv/ruby-build/releases/latest. Then:

tar -xzf ruby-build-*.tar.gz
PREFIX=/usr/local ./ruby-build-*/install.sh


Basic Usage

# As an rbenv plugin
$ rbenv install --list                 # lists all available versions of Ruby
$ rbenv install 2.2.0                  # installs Ruby 2.2.0 to ~/.rbenv/versions

# As a standalone program
$ ruby-build --definitions             # lists all available versions of Ruby
$ ruby-build 2.2.0 ~/local/ruby-2.2.0  # installs Ruby 2.2.0 to ~/local/ruby-2.2.0

ruby-build mostly does not verify that system dependencies are present before downloading and attempting to compile Ruby from source. Please ensure that all requisite libraries such as build tools and development headers are already present on your system.

Basically, what ruby-build does when installing a Ruby version is this:

  • Downloads an official tarball of Ruby source code;
  • Extracts the archive into a temporary directory on your system;
  • Executes ./configure --prefix=/path/to/destination in the source code;
  • Runs make install to compile Ruby;
  • Verifies that the installed Ruby is functional.

Depending on the context, ruby-build does a little bit more than the above: for example, it will try to link Ruby to the appropriate OpenSSL version, even if that means downloading and compiling OpenSSL itself; it will discover and link to Homebrew-installed instances of some libraries like libyaml and readline, etc.

Advanced Usage

Custom Build Definitions

To install a version of Ruby that is not recognized by ruby-build, you can specify the path to a custom build definition file in place of a Ruby version number.

Check out default build definitions as examples on how to write definition files.

Custom Build Configuration

The build process may be configured through the following environment variables:

Variable Function
TMPDIR Where temporary files are stored.
RUBY_BUILD_BUILD_PATH Where sources are downloaded and built. (Default: a timestamped subdirectory of TMPDIR)
RUBY_BUILD_CACHE_PATH Where to cache downloaded package files. (Default: ~/.rbenv/cache if invoked as rbenv plugin)
RUBY_BUILD_HTTP_CLIENT One of aria2c, curl, or wget to use for downloading. (Default: first one found in PATH)
RUBY_BUILD_ARIA2_OPTS Additional options to pass to aria2c for downloading.
RUBY_BUILD_CURL_OPTS Additional options to pass to curl for downloading.
RUBY_BUILD_WGET_OPTS Additional options to pass to wget for downloading.
RUBY_BUILD_MIRROR_URL Custom mirror URL root.
RUBY_BUILD_MIRROR_PACKAGE_URL Custom complete mirror URL (e.g. http://mirror.example.com/package-1.0.0.tar.gz).
RUBY_BUILD_SKIP_MIRROR Bypass the download mirror and fetch all package files from their original URLs.
RUBY_BUILD_ROOT Custom build definition directory. (Default: share/ruby-build)
RUBY_BUILD_DEFINITIONS Additional paths to search for build definitions. (Colon-separated list)
CC Path to the C compiler.
RUBY_CFLAGS Additional CFLAGS options (e.g., to override -O3).
CONFIGURE_OPTS Additional ./configure options.
MAKE Custom make command (e.g., gmake).
MAKE_OPTS / MAKEOPTS Additional make options.
MAKE_INSTALL_OPTS Additional make install options.
RUBY_CONFIGURE_OPTS Additional ./configure options (applies only to Ruby source).
RUBY_MAKE_OPTS Additional make options (applies only to Ruby source).
RUBY_MAKE_INSTALL_OPTS Additional make install options (applies only to Ruby source).
Applying Patches

Both rbenv install and ruby-build commands support the -p/--patch flag to apply a patch to the Ruby source code before building. Patches are read from standard input:

# applying a single patch
$ rbenv install --patch 1.9.3-p429 < /path/to/ruby.patch

# applying a patch from HTTP
$ rbenv install --patch 1.9.3-p429 < <(curl -sSL http://git.io/ruby.patch)

# applying multiple patches
$ cat fix1.patch fix2.patch | rbenv install --patch 1.9.3-p429
Checksum Verification

All Ruby definition files bundled with ruby-build include checksums for packages, meaning that all externally downloaded packages are automatically checked for integrity after fetching.

See the next section for more information on how to author checksums.

Package Mirrors

To speed up downloads, ruby-build fetches package files from a mirror hosted on Amazon CloudFront. To benefit from this, the packages must specify their checksum:

# example:
install_package "ruby-2.6.5" "https://ruby-lang.org/ruby-2.6.5.tgz#<SHA2>"

ruby-build will first try to fetch this package from $RUBY_BUILD_MIRROR_URL/<SHA2> (note: this is the complete URL), where <SHA2> is the checksum for the file. It will fall back to downloading the package from the original location if:

  • the package was not found on the mirror;
  • the mirror is down;
  • the download is corrupt, i.e. the file's checksum doesn't match;
  • no tool is available to calculate the checksum; or
  • RUBY_BUILD_SKIP_MIRROR is enabled.

You may specify a custom mirror by setting RUBY_BUILD_MIRROR_URL.

If a mirror site doesn't conform to the above URL format, you can specify the complete URL by setting RUBY_BUILD_MIRROR_PACKAGE_URL. It behaves the same as RUBY_BUILD_MIRROR_URL except being a complete URL.

The default ruby-build download mirror is sponsored by Basecamp.

Keeping the build directory after installation

Both ruby-build and rbenv install accept the -k or --keep flag, which tells ruby-build to keep the downloaded source after installation. This can be useful if you need to use gdb and memprof with Ruby.

Source code will be kept in a parallel directory tree ~/.rbenv/sources when using --keep with the rbenv install command. You should specify the location of the source code with the RUBY_BUILD_BUILD_PATH environment variable when using --keep with ruby-build.

Getting Help

Please see the ruby-build wiki for solutions to common problems.

If you can't find an answer on the wiki, open an issue on the issue tracker. Be sure to include the full build log for build failures.