Last updated 3 December 2013
Installing Ruby on Rails 4.0 on Mac OS X Mavericks. Up-to-date, detailed instructions for the Rails newest release. How to install Rails 4.0, the newest version of Rails, on a new install of Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks.
This in-depth installation guide is used by professional developers to configure their working environment for real-world Rails development.
To use Rails on Mac OS X, you’ll need Ruby (an interpreter for the Ruby programming language) plus gems (software libraries) containing the Rails web application development framework.
This is an article from the RailsApps project. The RailsApps project provides example applications that developers use as starter apps. Hundreds of developers use the apps, report problems as they arise, and propose solutions. Rails changes frequently; each application is known to work and serves as your personal “reference implementation” so you can stay up to date. Each is accompanied by a tutorial so there is no mystery code. Support for the project, including the example applications and the Rails Composer tool, comes from subscribers to the RailsApps tutorials.
See the article Updating Rails if you already have Rails installed.
For an overview of what’s changed in each Rails release, see a Ruby on Rails Release History.
Mac OS X comes with a “system Ruby” pre-installed. Mac OS X Mavericks includes the Ruby version Ruby 2.0.0p247 which has a known security vulnerability.
It is likely you will need to use Ruby 1.9.3 if you are maintaining older Rails applications. And in the future, you are likely to need Ruby 2.1.0 or other versions, as new Ruby versions are released. Even if you are a student and only building new Rails applications, you should be prepared to manage multiple versions of Ruby.
For these reasons, do not use the system Ruby. Instead, use a Ruby version manager such as RVM.
This guide covers installing Ruby and Rails on a Mac with no previous installation of a Rails development environment.
If you updated to Mavericks from an earlier version of Mac OS X, and you previously installed a Rails development environment, your earlier installation remains intact. You will need to install the new version of Xcode Command Line Tools. If you previously installed the full Xcode package, you will need to update Xcode to the newest version (Xcode 5.01 or newer).
Use this article to check if any components of your development environment need to be updated.
You’ll need an easy way to switch between Ruby versions. Just as important, you’ll have a dependency mess if you install gems into the system environment. I recommend RVM to manage Ruby versions and gems because it is popular, well-supported, and full-featured. If you are an experienced Unix administrator, you can consider alternatives such as Chruby, Sam Stephenson’s rbenv, or others on this list.
Conveniently, you can use RVM to install Ruby.
You may hear about one-click installation programs such as RailsInstaller, Cinderella, and BitNami RubyStack. These installation programs are often outdated and they are no longer needed as RVM will set up almost everything needed to install Ruby. In particular, I don’t recommend RailsInstaller for experienced developers as it installs RVM at the system level creating potential conflicts.
A new Mac OS X application named Tokaido promises a simple download of a special package that installs and runs Ruby on Rails in a isolated “sandboxed” environment. At this time, the application is in prerelease and doesn’t yet offer a significant advantage over installation using RVM. For now, use RVM, not Tokaido.
You can use Ruby on Rails without actually installing it on your computer. Hosted development, using a service such as Nitrous.io, means you get a computer “in the cloud” that you use from your web browser. Any computer can access the hosted development environment, though you’ll need a broadband connection. Nitrous.io is free for small projects.
Using a hosted environment means you are no longer dependent on the physical presence of a computer that stores all your files. If your computer crashes or is stolen, you can continue to use your hosted environment from any other computer. Likewise, if you frequently work on more than one computer, a hosted environment eliminates the difficulty of maintaining duplicate development environments. For these reasons some developers prefer to “work in the cloud” using Nitrous.io. For more on Nitrous.io, see the article Ruby on Rails with Nitrous.io. Nitrous.io is a good option if you have trouble installing Ruby on Rails on your Mac.
You’ll need to prepare your computer before installing Ruby on Rails.
Make sure you have the latest version of Mac OS X. Under the Apple menu, check “About This Mac.” It should show “Version 10.9” or newer. If you’ve owned your Mac for several years and haven’t updated Mac OS X, be prepared to spend several hours updating the operating system.
If you need to upgrade, see Apple’s instructions How to upgrade to OS X Mavericks. You can install Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) from the Mac App Store for free. Allow plenty of time for the download and installation (it may take several hours).
You’ll need to use the Terminal application to install Ruby and develop Rails applications.
The Terminal application or console gives us access to the Unix command line, or shell. We call the command line the shell because it is the outer layer of the operating system’s internal mechanisms (which we call the kernel).
Find the Mac OS X Terminal application by using the Command-Spacebar combination and searching for “Terminal.” It’s in the Applications/Utilities/ folder.
Try out the terminal application by entering a shell command:
Don’t type the
$ character. The
$ character is a cue that you should enter a shell command. This is a longtime convention that indicates you should enter a command in the terminal application. The Unix shell command
whoami returns your username.
To learn more about Unix shell commands, read The Command Line Crash Course.
You don’t need the full Xcode package to get the Xcode Command Line Tools. You only need the full Xcode package if you are doing development of applications for the Apple operating systems. However, you may have previously installed the full Xcode package.
Check if the full Xcode package is already installed:
$ xcode-select -p
If you see:
the full Xcode package is already installed.
You will need to update Xcode to the newest version (Xcode 5.01 or newer). Go to the App Store application and check “Updates.” After updating Xcode, be sure to launch the Xcode application and accept the Apple license terms.
If you see a file location that contains spaces in the path:
/Applications/Apple Dev Tools/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer
you must delete Xcode. RVM cannot accommodate spaces in a path so RVM will fail when you attempt to install Ruby. You can either install only the Xcode Command Line Tools (instructions below) or reinstall the full Xcode package.
Before installing Ruby, you’ll need to prepare your computer by installing Apple’s Xcode Command Line Tools.
The Xcode Command Line Tools provide a C language compiler needed to install Ruby. For many Rails projects, you will need the C language compiler to install gems that use native extensions.
Mac OS X Mavericks will alert you when you enter a command in the terminal that requires Xcode Command Line Tools. For example, you can enter
Try it. Enter:
You’ll see an alert box:
Click “Install” to download and install Xcode Command Line Tools.
The instructions in the alert box are confusing. You don’t need to “Get Xcode” from the App Store. Just click “Install” for the Xcode Command Line Tools.
Verify that you’ve successfully installed Xcode Command Line Tools:
$ xcode-select -p /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools
Just to be certain, verify that
gcc is installed:
$ gcc --version Configured with: --prefix=/Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/usr --with-gxx-include-dir=/usr/include/c++/4.2.1 Apple LLVM version 5.0 (clang-500.2.79) (based on LLVM 3.3svn) Target: x86_64-apple-darwin13.0.0 Thread model: posix
On earlier versions of Mac OS X, it was more difficult to install Xcode Command Line Tools. It required a huge download of the full Xcode package from the Mac App Store or registration as an Apple developer for a smaller Command Line Tools package. Mac OS X Mavericks makes installation of Xcode Command Line Tools much simpler.
The OSX GCC Installer is an open source project to provide the GCC compiler and related tools. In a recent blog post, Xcode, GCC, and Homebrew, the project maintainer recommends installing the Xcode Command Line Tools because the open source project is unable to duplicate the complete Apple package (notably, the Node software project isn’t supported).
Before installing Ruby on Rails, you should configure Git.
Git provides a source control repository. Developers use Git to roll back code changes as needed, to collaborate with others, and deploy applications for hosting with a service such as Heroku. As a Rails developer, you’ll use Git with a GitHub account for remote backup and collaboration. See the article Rails with Git and GitHub for more background.
Check that Git is installed:
$ git version git version 126.96.36.199 (Apple Git-47)
Git is automatically installed as part of the Xcode Command Line Tools. Or, if you updated from a previous version of Mac OS X, you may have installed Git previously.
Configure Git if you haven’t used it before. First, list the current settings with the
git config -l --global command. Then set
user.email if necessary:
$ git config -l --global fatal: unable to read config file '/Users/.../.gitconfig': No such file or directory $ git config --global user.name "Your Real Name" $ git config --global user.email email@example.com $ git config -l --global user.name=Your Real Name firstname.lastname@example.org
Now you’ll be ready to use Git when you need it.
Use RVM, the Ruby Version Manager, to install Ruby and manage your Rails versions.
RVM will leave your “system Ruby” untouched and use your shell to intercept any calls to Ruby. There’s no need to remove it. The “system Ruby” will remain on your system and the RVM version will take precedence.
Ruby 2.0.0-p353 was current when this was written. You can check for the current recommended version of Ruby. RVM will install the newest stable Ruby version.
The RVM website explains how to install RVM. Here’s the simplest way:
$ \curl -L https://get.rvm.io | bash -s stable --ruby
Note the backslash before “curl” (this avoids potential version conflicts).
The “—ruby” flag will install the newest version of Ruby.
RVM includes an “autolibs” option to identify and install components needed for your operating system. See the article RVM Autolibs: Automatic Dependency Handling and Ruby 2.0 for more information.
On a new, clean version of Mac OS X, RVM will check requirements and install MacPorts (you may need to enter your user password). RVM will update your system and install dependencies required for installing Ruby on Mac OS X. You may be prompted to install a Java SE 6 runtime (for the javac Java compiler).
If you already have RVM installed, update it to the latest version and install Ruby:
$ rvm get stable --autolibs=enable $ rvm install ruby $ rvm --default use ruby-2.0.0-p353
RubyGems is the gem manager in Ruby.
Check the installed gem manager version:
$ gem -v 2.1.11
You should have:
gem update --system to upgrade the Ruby gem manager if necessary.
Not all Rails developers use RVM to manage gems, but many recommend it.
Display a list of gemsets:
$ rvm gemset list gemsets for ruby-2.0.0-p353 => (default) global
Only the “default” and “global” gemsets are pre-installed.
If you get an error “rvm is not a function,” close your console and open it again.
See what gems are installed in the “global” gemset:
$ rvm gemset use global $ gem list
A trouble-free development environment requires the newest versions of the default gems.
Several gems are installed with Ruby or the RVM default gemset:
To get a list of gems that are outdated:
$ gem outdated ### list not shown for brevity
To update all stale gems:
$ gem update ### list not shown for brevity
In particular, rake should be updated to version 10.1.0 or newer.
By default, when you install gems, documentation files will be installed. Developers seldom use gem documentation files (they’ll browse the web instead). Installing gem documentation files takes time, so many developers like to toggle the default so no documentation is installed.
Here’s how to speed up gem installation by disabling the documentation step:
$ echo "gem: --no-document" >> ~/.gemrc
This adds the line
gem: --no-document to the hidden .gemrc file in your home directory.
You can stay informed of new gem versions by creating an account at RubyGems.org and visiting your dashboard. Search for each gem you use and “subscribe” to see a feed of updates in the dashboard (an RSS feed is available from the dashboard).
After you’ve built an application and set up a GitHub repository, you can stay informed with Gemnasium or VersionEye. These services survey your GitHub repo and send email notifications when gem versions change. Gemnasium and VersionEye are free for public repositories with a premium plan for private repositories.
Check for the current version of Rails. Rails 4.0.2 was current when this was written.
You can install Rails directly into the global gemset. However, many developers prefer to keep the global gemset sparse and install Rails into project-specific gemsets, so each project has the appropriate version of Rails.
If you install Rails at this point, you will install it into the global gemset.
Let’s consider the options you have for installing Rails.
If you want the most recent stable release:
$ gem install rails $ rails -v
If you want the newest beta version or release candidate, you can install with
$ gem install rails --pre $ rails -v
Or you can get a specific version.
For example, if you want the Rails 3.2.16 release:
$ gem install rails --version=3.2.16 $ rails -v
You’ll need a convenient folder to store your Rails projects. You can give it any name, such as code/ or projects/. For this tutorial, we’ll call it workspace/.
Create a projects folder and move into the folder:
$ mkdir workspace $ cd workspace
This is where you’ll create your Rails applications.
Here’s how to create a project-specific gemset, installing the current version of Rails 4.0, and creating a new application.
$ mkdir myapp $ cd myapp $ rvm use ruby-2.0.0@myapp --ruby-version --create $ gem install rails $ rails new .
We’ll name the new application “myapp.” Obviously, you can give it any name you like.
With this workflow, you’ll first create a root directory for your application, then move into the new directory.
With one command you’ll create a new project-specific gemset. The option “—ruby-version” creates .ruby-version and .ruby-gemset files in the root directory. RVM recognizes these files in an application’s root directory and loads the required version of Ruby and the correct gemset whenever you enter the directory.
When we create the gemset, it will be empty (though it inherits use of all the gems in the global gemset). We immediately install Rails. The command
gem install rails installs the most recent release of Rails.
Finally we run
rails new .. We use the Unix “dot” convention to refer to the current directory. This assigns the name of the directory to the new application.
This approach is different from the way most beginners are taught to create a Rails application. Most instructions suggest using
rails new myapp to generate a new application and then enter the directory to begin work. Our approach makes it easy to create a project-specific gemset and install Rails before the application is created.
rails new command generates the default Rails starter app. If you wish, you can use the Rails Composer tool to generate a starter application with a choice of basic features and popular gems.
For a “smoke test” to see if everything runs, display a list of Rake tasks.
$ rake -T
There’s no need to run
bundle exec rake instead of
rake when you are using RVM (see RVM and bundler integration).
This concludes the instructions for installing Ruby and Rails. Read on for additional advice and tips.
The starter application you create with
rails new is very basic.
Use the Rails Composer tool to build a full-featured Rails starter app.
You’ll get a choice of starter applications with basic features and popular gems.
Here’s how to generate a new Rails application using the Rails Composer tool:
Using the conventional approach:
$ rails new myapp -m https://raw.github.com/RailsApps/rails-composer/master/composer.rb
Or, first creating an empty application root directory:
$ mkdir myapp $ cd myapp $ rvm use ruby-2.0.0@myapp --ruby-version --create $ gem install rails $ rails new . -m https://raw.github.com/RailsApps/rails-composer/master/composer.rb
-m option loads an application template that is hosted on GitHub.
You can add the
-T flags to skip Test::Unit if you are using RSpec for testing.
You can add the
-O flags to skip Active Record if you are using a NoSQL datastore such as MongoDB.
If you get an error “OpenSSL certificate verify failed” when you try to generate a new Rails app, see the article OpenSSL errors and Rails.
The RailsApps project provides example apps that show how real-world Rails applications are built. Each example is known to work and can serve as your personal “reference implementation”. Each is an open source project. Dozens of developers use the apps, report problems as they arise, and propose solutions as GitHub issues. There is a tutorial for each one so there is no mystery code. Purchasing a subscription for the tutorials gives the project financial support.
|Example Applications for Rails 4.0||Tutorial||Comments|
|Learn Rails||Learn Ruby on Rails||introduction to Rails for beginners|
|Rails and Bootstrap||Tutorial||starter app for Rails and Twitter Bootstrap|
|Example Applications for Rails 3.2||Tutorial||Comments|
|Twitter Bootstrap, Devise, CanCan||Tutorial||Devise for authentication, CanCan for authorization, Twitter Bootstrap for CSS|
|Rails Membership Site with Stripe||Tutorial||Site with subscription billing using Stripe|
|Rails Membership Site with Recurly||Tutorial||Site with subscription billing using Recurly|
|Startup Prelaunch Signup App||Tutorial||For a startup prelaunch signup site|
|Devise, RSpec, Cucumber||Tutorial||Devise for authentication with ActiveRecord and SQLite for a database|
|Devise, Mongoid||Tutorial||Devise for authentication with a MongoDB datastore|
|OmniAuth, Mongoid||Tutorial||OmniAuth for authentication with a MongoDB datastore|
|Subdomains, Devise, Mongoid||Tutorial||Basecamp-style subdomains with Devise and MongoDB|
If you’ve already created an application with the command
rails new myapp, you can still create a project-specific gemset. Here’s how to create a gemset for an application named “myapp” and create .ruby-version and .ruby-gemset files in the application’s root directory:
$ rvm use ruby-2.0.0@myapp --ruby-version --create
You’ll need to install Rails and the gems listed in your Gemfile into the new gemset by running:
$ gem install rails $ bundle install
If you have already created both an application and a gemset, but not .ruby-version and .ruby-gemset files, here’s how to add the files. For example, if you want to use an existing gemset named “ruby-2.0.0@myapp”:
$ echo "ruby-2.0.0" > .ruby-version $ echo "myapp" > .ruby-gemset
Using .ruby-version and .ruby-gemset files means you’ll automatically be using the correct Rails and gem version when you switch to your application root directory on your local machine.
Rails uses the SQLite database by default. Mac OS X come with SQLite pre-installed and there’s nothing to configure.
Though SQLite is adequate for development (and even some production applications), a new Rails application can be configured for other databases. The command
rails new myapp --database= will show you a list of supported databases.
Supported for preconfiguration are: mysql, oracle, postgresql, sqlite3, frontbase, ibm_db, sqlserver, jdbcmysql, jdbcsqlite3, jdbcpostgresql, jdbc.
Use the easy-to-install Max OS X Postgres.app if you’d like to use PostgreSQL.
To create a new Rails application to use PostgreSQL:
$ rails new myapp --database=postgresql
--database=postgresql parameter will add the pg database adapter gem to the Gemfile and create a suitable config/database.yml file.
Don’t use the
--database= argument with the Rails Composer tool. You’ll select a database from a menu instead.
If you wish to run your own servers, you can deploy a Rails application using Capistrano deployment scripts. However, unless system administration is a personal passion, it is much easier to deploy your application with a “platform as a service” provider such as Heroku.
For easy deployment, use a “platform as a service” provider such as:
For deployment on Heroku, see the article:
By design, Rails encourages practices that avoid common web application vulnerabilities. The Rails security team actively investigates and patches vulnerabilities. If you use the most current version of Rails, you will be protected from known vulnerabilities. See the Ruby On Rails Security Guide for an overview of potential issues and watch the Ruby on Rails Security Mailing List for announcements and discussion.
rails new command, a unique secret key is generated and written to the config/initializers/secret_token.rb file. If you’ve generated a Rails application and committed it only to a private GitHub repository, you do not need to change the secret key. However, if you’ve cloned a public GitHub repository or made your application publicly available on GitHub, you must change the secret key when you deploy. The command
rake secret generates a new random secret you can use. The command won’t install the key; you have to copy the key from the console output to the config/initializers/secret_token.rb file. Remember, you should never deploy an application to production that uses a publicly available secret token (obviously, it is not secret if it is public!).
If you get a “segfault” when you try
rails new, try removing and reinstalling RVM. If you are not using the current version of Mac OS X, you should upgrade before installing RVM.
Ruby and RubyGems (starting with Ruby 1.9.3p194 and RubyGems 1.8.23) require verification of server SSL certificates when Ruby makes an Internet connection via https. If you run
rails new and get an error “Gem::RemoteFetcher::FetchError: SSL_connect returned=1 errno=0 state=SSLv3 read server certificate” see this article suggesting solutions: OpenSSL errors and Rails.
Are you getting an error “OpenSSL certificate verify failed” when you try to generate a new Rails app from an application template? See this article suggesting solutions: OpenSSL errors and Rails.
Your best source for help with problems is Stack Overflow. Your issue may have been encountered and addressed by others.
You can also try Rails Hotline, a free telephone hotline for Rails help staffed by volunteers.
Daniel Kehoe wrote the article.