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Ruby in Debian

This page documents how to install and use Ruby in Debian. For information about the development of Debian Ruby packages, please see Teams/Ruby.

This page is also available through this shortened URL:

Available interpreters in Debian 10 (buster)




MRI 2.5.5


JRuby 9.1.17


Available interpreters in Debian 8 (jessie)




MRI 2.1.5


JRuby 1.5.6


Unfortunately Rubinius did not make it into jessie.

As there are no (MRI) alternatives to choose from, update-alternatives support has been removed. (Longer explanation about the alternatives removal can be found here: and here: )

Available interpreters in Debian 7 (wheezy)

The following Ruby interpreters are available in Debian Wheezy:




MRI 1.8.7


MRI 1.9.3






Work in progress, not actually available yet

It's possible to switch between different Ruby interpreters as the default "ruby" program by using update-alternatives. But when you change "ruby", you probably also want to change the default "gem", "irb", etc, so there are shortcuts to changing all of those at once.

Selecting the default Ruby interpreter system-wide (wheezy only)

To select the default Ruby interpreter on a system-wide basis, you can use the ruby-switch package. This needs to be done as root (or with sudo).

# ruby -v
ruby 1.8.7 (2011-06-30 patchlevel 352) [x86_64-linux]
# ruby-switch --list
# ruby-switch --set ruby1.9.1
update-alternatives: using /usr/bin/gem1.9.1 to provide /usr/bin/gem (gem) in manual mode.
update-alternatives: using /usr/bin/ruby1.9.1 to provide /usr/bin/ruby (ruby) in manual mode.
# ruby -v
ruby 1.9.3p0 (2011-10-30 revision 33570) [x86_64-linux]
# ruby-switch --auto
update-alternatives: using /usr/bin/ruby1.8 to provide /usr/bin/ruby (ruby) in auto mode.
update-alternatives: using /usr/bin/gem1.8 to provide /usr/bin/gem (gem) in auto mode.
# ruby -v
ruby 1.8.7 (2011-06-30 patchlevel 352) [x86_64-linux]

Selecting the default Ruby interpreter on a per-user basis (wheezy)

Note: the instructions here use the command "rbenv alternatives", which is not available in Debian jessie.

To select the default Ruby for a given user account, you should use the rbenv package:

$ ruby -v
ruby 1.8.7 (2011-06-30 patchlevel 352) [x86_64-linux]
$ rbenv init 
# Load rbenv automatically by adding
# the following to ~/.bash_profile:

eval "$(rbenv init -)"
$ echo 'eval "$(rbenv init -)"' >> ~/.bash_profile # or ~/.bashrc, depends on your setup
$ rbenv versions
$ rbenv alternatives 
$ rbenv versions
$ rbenv global 1.9.3-debian 
$ ruby -v
ruby 1.8.7 (2011-06-30 patchlevel 352) [x86_64-linux]

It looks like it didn't work, but that's because the current shell already cached /usr/bin/ruby as the location of "ruby". After you start a new shell, you will be able to switch the default ruby back and forth:

$ ruby -v
ruby 1.8.7 (2011-06-30 patchlevel 352) [x86_64-linux]
$ rbenv global 1.9.3-debian 
$ ruby -v
ruby 1.9.3p0 (2011-10-30 revision 33570) [x86_64-linux]
$ rbenv global 1.8.7-debian 
$ ruby -v
ruby 1.8.7 (2011-06-30 patchlevel 352) [x86_64-linux]

Installing Ruby versions not packaged in Debian

You can use the ruby-build package to install Ruby interpreters that are not available in Debian. Note, however, what's written in the package README.Debian file:

  1. BalasankarC/DebianRuby
  2. BalasankarC/DebianRuby/Packaging
  3. BalasankarC/DebianRuby/Packaging/Conventions
  4. BalasankarC/DebianRuby/Packaging/TestFailures
  5. BalasankarC/DebianRuby/Packaging/Tests
  6. Packaging/ruby-team-meta-build
  7. ReproducibleBuilds/TimestampsInRubyDocumentation
  8. Ruby
  9. Ruby/Packaging/Tests
  10. Ruby/Packaging/newUpstreamRailsApp
  11. SummerOfCode2020/UnApprovedProjects/UpstreamDownstreamCooperationInRuby
  12. Teams/DebianRubyExtras
  13. Teams/Ruby
  14. Teams/Ruby/CrossBuilding
  15. Teams/Ruby/Drafts/StateOfTransitionNewPolicy
  16. Teams/Ruby/Drafts/StateOfTransitionNewPolicyReleaseTeam
  17. Teams/Ruby/Drafts/SwitchToOneNine
  18. Teams/Ruby/IRCMeetings
  19. Teams/Ruby/InterpreterTransitions
  20. Teams/Ruby/Jessie
  21. Teams/Ruby/Meeting/Brazil2016
  22. Teams/Ruby/Meeting/Paris2014
  23. Teams/Ruby/Meeting/Paris2015
  24. Teams/Ruby/Meeting/Paris2015/Report
  25. Teams/Ruby/Meeting/Paris2020
  26. Teams/Ruby/Packaging
  27. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/Conventions
  28. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/Obsolete
  29. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/RailsEngines
  30. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/Tests
  31. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/newUpstreamRailsApp
  32. Teams/Ruby/RSpec3
  33. Teams/Ruby/Rails3
  34. Teams/Ruby/Rails3 (foo.tar.gz)
  35. Teams/Ruby/Rails3 (testapp.tar.gz)
  36. Teams/Ruby/Rails4.2
  37. Teams/Ruby/Rails6
  38. Teams/Ruby/Rails6/DependenciesTransition
  39. Teams/Ruby/Rails6/RailsBreakingChanges
  40. Teams/Ruby/Rails6/ReverseDependenciesTransition
  41. Teams/Ruby/Ruby2.2
  42. Teams/Ruby/RubyExtras
  43. Teams/Ruby/RubyExtras/OnRubygems
  44. Teams/Ruby/RubyExtras/Ruby19Porting
  45. Teams/Ruby/RubyExtras/RubyPackageTools
  46. Teams/Ruby/RubyExtras/UpstreamDevelopers
  47. Teams/Ruby/RubyInWheezy
  48. Teams/Ruby/Salsa
  49. Teams/Ruby/UpstreamPledge
  50. Teams/Ruby/Workflow
  51. Teams/Ruby/ruby2.5
  52. it/Ruby
  53. ja/Ruby