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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 11 (bullseye)




MRI 2.7.4


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. JongminKim/Drafts/RubyPackaging
  7. Packaging/ruby-team-meta-build
  8. ReproducibleBuilds/TimestampsInRubyDocumentation
  9. Ruby
  10. Ruby/Packaging/Tests
  11. Ruby/Packaging/newUpstreamRailsApp
  12. SummerOfCode2020/ApprovedProjects/UpstreamDownstreamCooperationInRuby
  13. SummerOfCode2020/UnApprovedProjects/UpstreamDownstreamCooperationInRuby
  14. Teams/DebianRubyExtras
  15. Teams/Ruby
  16. Teams/Ruby/CrossBuilding
  17. Teams/Ruby/Drafts/StateOfTransitionNewPolicy
  18. Teams/Ruby/Drafts/StateOfTransitionNewPolicyReleaseTeam
  19. Teams/Ruby/Drafts/SwitchToOneNine
  20. Teams/Ruby/IRCMeetings
  21. Teams/Ruby/InterpreterTransitions
  22. Teams/Ruby/Jessie
  23. Teams/Ruby/Meeting/Brazil2016
  24. Teams/Ruby/Meeting/Paris2014
  25. Teams/Ruby/Meeting/Paris2015
  26. Teams/Ruby/Meeting/Paris2015/Report
  27. Teams/Ruby/Meeting/Paris2020
  28. Teams/Ruby/Packaging
  29. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/Archive
  30. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/Conventions
  31. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/ITP
  32. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/Obsolete
  33. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/RailsApps
  34. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/RailsEngines
  35. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/Tests
  36. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/TransitionsPrimer
  37. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/gem2deb
  38. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/newUpstreamRailsApp
  39. Teams/Ruby/Packaging/origsource
  40. Teams/Ruby/RSpec3
  41. Teams/Ruby/Rails3
  42. Teams/Ruby/Rails3 (foo.tar.gz)
  43. Teams/Ruby/Rails3 (testapp.tar.gz)
  44. Teams/Ruby/Rails4.2
  45. Teams/Ruby/Rails6
  46. Teams/Ruby/Rails6/DependenciesTransition
  47. Teams/Ruby/Rails6/RailsBreakingChanges
  48. Teams/Ruby/Rails6/ReverseDependenciesTransition
  49. Teams/Ruby/Ruby2.2
  50. Teams/Ruby/RubyExtras
  51. Teams/Ruby/RubyExtras/OnRubygems
  52. Teams/Ruby/RubyExtras/Ruby19Porting
  53. Teams/Ruby/RubyExtras/RubyPackageTools
  54. Teams/Ruby/RubyExtras/UpstreamDevelopers
  55. Teams/Ruby/RubyInWheezy
  56. Teams/Ruby/Salsa
  57. Teams/Ruby/UpstreamPledge
  58. Teams/Ruby/Workflow
  59. Teams/Ruby/ruby2.5
  60. it/Ruby
  61. ja/Ruby