RVM has been the traditional choice of #ruby management for years.

Such a heavyweight isn't always required though and a lighter alternative is desirable. We can achieve this setup with the tools chruby and ruby-build.

With chruby we can manage multiple Ruby versions; ruby-build allows us to install multiple Ruby versions.

Managing Rubies with chruby

chruby is a lightweight environment manager. It sets environment variables and nothing else. This gives us more freedom about where we put our Rubies and how we install them.

chruby can be installed with these steps:

wget -O chruby-0.3.4.tar.gz https://github.com/postmodern/chruby/archive/v0.3.4.tar.gz
tar -xzvf chruby-0.3.4.tar.gz
cd chruby-0.3.4/
make install

We then source chruby inside of our ~/.bashrc or ~/.zshrc.

source /usr/local/share/chruby/chruby.sh

Building Rubies with ruby-build

ruby-build is a tool to compile and install multiple Ruby versions. It allows us to install Rubies wherever we want and with many options.

Available Rubies can be found with:

ruby-build --definitions

chruby looks for Rubies in /opt/rubies. This is where we should install all of our Rubies.

To install Ruby 1.9.3-p392 we would run:

ruby-build 1.9.3-p392 /opt/rubies/ruby-1.9.3-p392


A Ruby can then be selected with chruby <ruby>.

chruby rubinius-1.2.4
 * rubinius-1.2.4

To set the default Ruby use chruby to select it inside of your ~/.bashrc or ~/.zshrc.

source /usr/local/share/chruby/chruby.sh
chruby ruby-1.9.3-p392

Learn More

More information about chruby and ruby-build is available on GitHub.

  1. https://github.com/postmodern/chruby
  2. https://github.com/sstephenson/ruby-build