Getting Started with Ruby on Rails on Ubuntu 11.04

Recently, my friend Richard has been getting into Ruby. At first, I scoffed, telling Richard that Ruby might be a fine language, but I want nothing to do with the people who write in Ruby.

Remember back in the day when we all read slashdot? Pretty much anyone who admitted to running or even just not hating windows would eventually be set on fire in the comments. I imagine those zealots as the same group that evangelizes Ruby. I'm not alone in thinking this.

The problem, though, is that I'm starting to notice Ruby creeping into my radar more and more. My investigation of node.js made me realize that a lot of the frameworks I like are actually... ports from Ruby. I think technologies like LESS, SASS, and CoffeeScript are pretty cool. And although they're hardly exclusive to Ruby, that's the general direction they're coming from. It's even hard to read about state-of-the-industry testing practices without coming across rspec and cucumber.

Ruby is beginning to remind me of SmallTalk. The language was popular, sure, but what was really appealing was the set of people involved (like Kent Beck, Ward Cunningham, etc) and the concepts that were born from that community. Model-View-Controller. eXtreme Programming (XP). Maybe you've heard of those?

At this point, refusing to take a look at Ruby and learn from the concepts it's birthing would make me one of the snobs I so loathe.

Enough pontification. Let's get to the point - setting up Ruby on Rails on Ubuntu 11.04.

First, start step #2 on this blog: DO NOT install ruby via the ubuntu packages (apt-get). Instead, use RVM, described in step #2.

Once you get to step #6, you're going to hit your next error. Starting the rails server is going to cause this error:
Could not find a JavaScript runtime. See
for a list of available runtimes. (ExecJS::RuntimeUnavailable)
After searching for an hour or so, I finally found this question on stackoverflow. The answer that worked for me was to install node.js. Know how to do that? No problem - just follow these instructions here:

Once installed, go back and execute 'rails server' and the server will start up! Open http://localhost:3000/ in your browser and you'll see your example rails project!

Have fun!


  1. That's a strange error to encounter with Rails. Of course, I've never installed it on Ubuntu (though I have on CentOS). By the way, welcome to a much better paradigm of programming! Rails is cool, but the hidden "gem" (hahahaha, I made a Ruby joke) is ActiveRecord. Once you figure it out, you will absolutely hate any other ORM (perhaps with the exception of LINQ to SQL).

  2. I haven't dabbled in Ruby yet, but I've recently gotten into programming in Python and Node (yup, finally ditched PHP). I like Python for the ease at getting something mocked up and running and I'm pretty impressed with the performance of Node.

  3. @Richard - Linq is pretty compelling, so I now have high expectations!

    @jp - I agree with everything you said - especially using the word 'ditch' to describe your relationship with PHP. A language of 5000 global functions doesn't appeal to me like it used to in college. ;-)


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