Ruby equivalent of virtualenv?


Is there something similar to the Python utility virtualenv?

Basically it allows you to install Python packages into a sandboxed environment, so easy_install django doesn’t go in your system-wide site-packages directory, it would go in the virtualenv-created directory.

For example:

$ virtualenv test
New python executable in test/bin/python
Installing .........done.
$ cd test/
$ source bin/activate
(test)$ easy_install tvnamer
Searching for tvnamer
Best match: tvnamer 0.5.1
Processing tvnamer-0.5.1-py2.5.egg
Adding tvnamer 0.5.1 to easy-install.pth file
Installing tvnamer script to /Users/dbr/test/bin

Using /Library/Python/2.5/site-packages/tvnamer-0.5.1-py2.5.egg
Processing dependencies for tvnamer
Finished processing dependencies for tvnamer
(test)$ which tvnamer 

Is there something like this for RubyGems?

Asked By: dbr



RVM works closer to how virtualenv works since it lets you sandbox different ruby versions and their gems, etc.

Answered By: Van Nguyen

No one seems to have mentioned rbenv.

Answered By: Xuan

Neither sandbox, RVM, nor rbenv manage the versions of your app’s gem dependencies. The tool for that is bundler.

  • use a Gemfile as your application’s dependency declaration
  • use bundle install to install explicit versions of these dependencies into an isolated location
  • use bundle exec to run your application
Answered By: pje

I’ll mention the way I do this with Bundler (which I use with RVM – RVM to manage the rubies and a default set of global gems, Bundler to handle project specific gems)

bundler install --binstubs --path vendor

Running this command in the root of a project will install the gems listed from your Gemfile, put the libs in ./vendor, and any executables in ./bin and all requires (if you use bundle console or the Bundler requires) will reference these exes and libs.

Answered By: ian

If you only need to install gems as non-root, try setting the GEM_HOME environment variable. Then just run gem.

For example:

$ export GEM_HOME=$HOME/local/gems
$ gem install rhc
Answered By: mpb

I recommend direnv. It is an environment switcher for the shell.

Before each prompt it checks for the existence of an “.envrc” file in the current and parent directories. If the file exists (and authorized), it is loaded into a bash sub-shell and all exported variables are then captured by direnv and then made available the current shell.

Here is how to use direnv with ruby-install

+ ruby-install

Add this to the ~/.direnvrc

use_ruby() {
  local ruby_root=$HOME/.rubies/$1
  load_prefix "$ruby_root"

Install ruby-install (brew install ruby-install) and install a bunch of rubies.

ruby-install ruby 1.9.3
ruby-install ruby 2.0.0
ruby-install ruby 2.2.0

And then make a couple of symlinks for convenience:

ln -s .rubies/1.9 ruby-1.9.3-p*
ln -s .rubies/2.0 ruby-2.0.0
ln -s .rubies/2.2 ruby-2.2.0

And finally in any project’s .envrc:

use ruby 2.0

This will put all gems under the project’s .direnv/ruby directory (makes opening gems easier). bundler will put wrapper binaries in .direnv/bin (no more bundle exec!).

+ rbenv

It’s also possible to use rbenv by adding the use rbenv command in any .envrc file. This will activate rbenv which in turn will put the ruby wrappers in the PATH.

Note that it’s not necessary to install rbenv in the .bashrc or .zshrc for this to work.


Here is the most complicated .envrc that I use on ruby projects:

rvm use 1.8.7
layout ruby
PATH_add .direnv/bundler-bin

rvm is used to select the right ruby version for you

layout commands automatically set some of the usual environment variables. For now only the ruby layout exists. What it does is set the GEM_HOME environment variable and it’s bin directory to your path. Because it depends on the ruby version, make sure to call it after “rvm”. Since each ruby layout directories have their own GEM_HOME, you don’t need to use rvm’s gemsets.

PATH_add prepends and expands the given relative path. In that case, I use this to segregate the bundler binstubs from my own bin scripts with bundle install --binstubs .direnv/bundler-bin

If you want to find out what those commands exactly do, for now: cat direnv stdlib | less

Answered By: Shin Kim

Mineshaft is a project that I’ve been working on for some time and am continuing development work on.

It offers the ability to both create virtual environments akin to how virtualenv works and can also install Ruby globally as well.

Answered By: ctesterman

Here’s two cents from an experienced Python developer currently learning Ruby. Using rbenv together with its rbenv-gemset plugin is the closest thing to Python Virtual Environments I have found so far.

rbenv is a tool to manage multiple Ruby versions against the same platform. If you are a Python developer you have probably stumbled upon pyenv. Well, they share the very same purpose and, as a matter of fact, pyenv was actually born as a fork of rbenv.

Without entering in to much technical details, rbenv intercepts Ruby commands using SHIM executables injected into your PATH, and determines which Ruby version has been specified by your application, and passes your commands along to the correct Ruby installation.

A Ruby version can be specified for a project in many different ways. One of the most common is to place a .ruby-version file in the project root directory containing the desired version.

However, whenever a version is used to install gems, those will be shared among all the projects using that version.

Here’s where rbenv-gemset plugins comes in handy. In a similar fashion to the .ruby-version file you may initialize a .ruby-gemsets file containing the path of the directory where the gems should be installed for this project (by default a local .gems directory in the project root). Thus isolation between project is achieved.

Here’s an oldie but good article about the topic.

Answered By: Michele Cardone
Categories: questions Tags: , ,
Answers are sorted by their score. The answer accepted by the question owner as the best is marked with
at the top-right corner.