Eric Bergman-Terrell's Blog

Ruby on Rails: How to Install Ruby on Rails on Ubuntu 11.04
September 18, 2011

I am currently learning Ruby on Rails. The hardest part so far has been installing Rails on Ubuntu 11.04. Ruby on Rails is pre-installed on OSX, and can be easily installed on Windows (there is an installation program). But on Ubuntu, the install experience is dismal, to put it mildly.

I spent multiple hours reading various "How to Install Ruby on Rails on Ubuntu 11.04" pages and trying the instructions. Many were well-written and authored by experienced Rails gurus. Some of them partially worked. None of them completely worked.

However, I was eventually able to update one of them, add a fix for a javascript issue and get a fully working installation. Presumably the install instructions work until one of the components is updated in a breaking fashion, which must happen frequently.

I am truly puzzled at the Ruby on Rails Ubuntu installation experience. Indeed, I'm struggling for the proper words to describe the process. Abysmal? Inextricably wedged? A Kafkaesque nightmare?

It's clear that at least some ROR development is done on Ubuntu. But why isn't there a decent package that could be easily installed? Or even reliable manual installation instructions?

The following instructions work, as of this instant in history (September 18, 2011), when done on a virgin Ubuntu 11.04 install, running on VirtualBox.

  1. Install Ubuntu 11.04 (I installed the 32-bit version).
  2. Go to Administration / Update Manager and install all updates.
  3. Open a terminal window (BASH command shell).
  4. Copy and paste the following commands into the terminal window, one section at a time:

# Based on: and 

# Paste the following into a bash command shell, one section at a time.

sudo apt-get install curl git-core build-essential bison openssl libreadline5 libreadline5-dev zlib1g zlib1g-dev libssl-dev libsqlite3-0 libsqlite3-dev sqlite3 libxml2-dev autoconf

curl -L > rvm-install-head

bash rvm-install-head
rm rvm-install-head

source ~/.bashrc

rvm install 1.9.2
rvm use 1.9.2 --default
rvm 1.9.2 --passenger
rvm 1.9.2

gem install passenger

sudo apt-get install libcurl4-openssl-dev

# Choose option 1 and go with defaults.
rvmsudo passenger-install-nginx-module

gem install rails

sudo apt-get install python-software-properties

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:chris-lea/node.js

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install nodejs

mkdir rails_projects
cd rails_projects

rails new hello_world
cd hello_world

rails server

# Test the new web app by browsing to http://localhost:3000
Keywords: ruby, ruby on rails, ubuntu 11.04, dismal install experience, windows, OSX, VirtualBox, rvm, gem, sqlite, curl, bash, ROR

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