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Friday, January 16, 2009

DebGem - Ruby Libraries Packaged for Debian and Ubuntu

Ruby programs and libraries for Debian and Ubuntu easy to install with apt-get and no longer a pain.

Apt is the package management system of choice for Debian users. Historically, only a very limited number of Ruby programs and libraries are packaged for Debian and installable through Apt. Instead, most Ruby programs and libraries are installed through RubyGems, a separate package management system created specifically for Ruby.

DebGem provides an Apt repository for Ruby programs and libraries which are currently available as gems. Debian users can now manage all their Ruby software through a single, centralized package manager - Apt - thereby making system administration a joy again!

Its easy to install than rubygem.RubyGems needs to be installed from source, but before that, you need to install the correct Ruby programs, libraries and build tools by hand. Installing DebGem just involves adding an Apt source.

Debian packages integrate better into the system. Gems cannot handle native dependencies. For example, if you install the RMagick gem, then RubyGems won’t install ImageMagick for you. The DebGem Debian packages do, so installing an arbitrary Ruby library just involves a single command.

All you need to do is add the DebGem repository to your APT sources list (often /etc/apt/sources.list) and you're ready to go! There are just two "catches":

1. Currently gems with native extensions are only supported on Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy) x86.
2. DebGem is only free to use during the beta period