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Compilation of Ruby's Source Code on Ubuntu

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Oliver’s guide has listed the packages on which Ruby depends. Following strictly to the guide, you should start working with the programming language, instead of wasting time to read this article.


To compile Ruby for whatever reasons.


You’ve read Oliver’s guide. However, your goal does not match with those in Oliver’s guide. Therefore, you don’t need to do all the things in the guide and start to skim through the text and to scan for commands useful to you. This is an essential skill to survive in *nix.1


You’ve found some useful commands, and tried working out their dependencies. Nonetheless, you missed out some important commands and thus the dependencies were wrong. Unfortunately, you’re unaware of such careless mistake and continued the process, before being stopped by the compiler’s error message.

In this case, you found the following commands useful.

$ curl
# Substitute [version-number] with that of your downloaded archive.
# If you're NOT sure, use `ls' to list the files inside your folder.
$ tar -xvzf ruby-[version-number].tar.gz
$ cd ruby-[version-number]
$ make

Therefore, you ran all of these commands. Expecting to get things done and to proceed to the next step, you got an error message from the compiler.


Using a part of the compiler’s error message as the query string a search engine, you get some other web pages on the same or similar topics. If you could find blog entries like this some, they might have links to other similar web pages, so you’ve got even more to read.

I’ve found DiStasio’s article, which contains a hyperlink to Ladd’s essay. I tried issuing the following commands according to the instructions there.

# Suppose that the current working directory is the same as the one in the above
# command list.
# If you're NOT sure, use `pwd' to check it.
$ cd ext/openssl
$ make
$ sudo make reinstall  # I'd installed the wrong version of Ruby.

Lacking patience to read the blogs, knowledge of using makefiles and experience of compiling softwares from their source code, I don’t know how to uninstall the wrong version of Ruby. Are there any make uninstall command?

I tried searching for reinstall and uninstall in the makefile, and failed to find any. Then, I realised that using search engines to answer my questions was inefficient. Reading the official manual of Make wouldn’t be effective. Thus, without knowing the truth, I just try the last line of the above list of commands.

The make reinstall command successfully triggered a reinstallation of Ruby, but after running the command, I still received complaints form the compiler. Having no idea on the process, I did the same thing again: copied a part of the message and googled it, and ended up with further more pages to read. The amount of tab pages in my current browser window is too high and this stopped me from opening more web pages on Ruby compilation errors on Google’s search result in a new tab.

It took me some time to find out that I overlooked the command below

$ sudo apt-get install build-essential zlib1g-dev libssl-dev \
> libreadline-dev libyaml-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev curl git-core \
> python-software-properties

In Oliver’s guide, the above command is right above those commands for compiling and installing Ruby. Therefore, I installed them, and tried rebuilding Ruby by running make and sudo make reinstall in my ruby -[version-number]. (i.e. my Ruby source folder) It failed again. Without changing the current working directory directory in the above command list, I did the following because of Ladd’s web page.

$ make
$ sudo make reinstall

But it failed again. Maybe I need to go back to ruby-[version-number], recompile the source code and reinstall Ruby again. So using the same current working directory as the one in the above command list, I did the following thing.

$ cd ../.. # For changing the current working directory to `ruby-[version-number]'.
$ make
$ sudo make reinstall

Things still went wrong! I remembered the make clean command, so without changing the current working directory, I ran the following commands.

$ make clean
$ make
$ sudo make reinstall

Remark: With the command dkpg -l | grep ruby, I realised that make clean doesn’t uninstall Ruby. It just deletes all compiled files in ruby -[version-number].

It still wouldn’t compile with the OpenSSL feature. However, some features that had failed to compile before I had run the command make clean could be compiled.

This inspired me to run the following commands.

$ cd ext/openssl
$ make clean
$ make
$ sudo make reinstall

However, I still got errors. There was a problem in getting the file ossl.o work. (I’ve forgotten the exact name of that file, and I couldn’t find web pages about the same error.) I ignored the message and ran the following commands.

$ cd ../..
$ make clean
$ make
$ sudo make reinstall

But it still didn’t go right. After running the commands make and make clean for a number of times, I eventually worked out a solution for my problem.


  1. Run the command make clean in both the ruby-[version-number] and ruby-[version-number]/ext/openssl directories.
  2. Run make in ruby-[version-number] to compile the source code. Some errors like “Failed to compile gdbm” will come out. It depends on your needs. Having no clue on what gdbm is, I just proceed to the reinstallation of Ruby.
  3. Run the command sudo make reinstall in ruby-[version-number]. Then the command gem install bundle in Oliver’s guide should work.

Lessons learnt

  1. Always figure out the dependencies of a package.
  2. Be careful and patient while reading instructions on commands.
  3. Always clear all compiled files before any recompilation.

Posted via UltraBlog.vim.

  1. Refer to 如何有效學習電腦 by C.K. Hung.