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Really want Ruby 1.9 generally available? Read on.

Gentoo currently does not offer Ruby 1.9 available to users directly; there are a number of reasons for that, and can be summed up in what Alex described as “not pulling a Python 3 on our users”. Right now, there are near to no packages that need Ruby 1.9, and a lot that does not even work with it. While a minority nowadays, a few won’t even work if it’s installed together with 1.8, let alone configured as primary provider for Ruby.

Me, Alex and Hans have been working for a long time to find a solution, and since last year the definite solution seems to be Ruby NG which I originally started in May 2009 after having trouble with keeping this very blog alive on the previous vserver — which nowadays only hosts the xine bugzilla .

The road has been still uphill from there, as the three pages of posts tagged with RubyNG on this blog can document; trouble with the ideas and implementations, compatibility problems, a huge web of dependencies between packages, various fixes, all of it makes the road to Ruby 1.9 quite difficult for us packagers. At the same time, we’ve been doing our best to ensure that what the users are given with proper software, of good quality. Maybe it’s because I’m deeply involved with QA, maybe it is because I’m not writing production software daily, but I still think that we shouldn’t be providing with half-assed software easily, just for the sake of it.

That means that most of the time we either don’t add support for Ruby 1.9, or we go deeply into fixing the underlying issues to make sure that the software will work upstream, and not just in Gentoo (as otherwise there could be nasty surprises, like some I got, where an application works perfectly fine locally, where software is installed through Portage, and fails on Heroku that uses plain Rubygems). You can tell how that can be a PITA by looking at my github page — it lists mostly Ruby packages that I had to “fork” (branch, actually) to get the fixes in; mostly they have been merged upstream, sometimes they are dead in the water though.

All of this makes the situation quite complex; while I sort-of enjoy working with Ruby and these things, I also noted that it takes a very long time to get all the dependency web tested and fixed… and it’s the sort of time that, in my personal free time, I just don’t have. I have been packaging (and thus testing and fixing) a few packages that I triaged for a few job tasks, and some that I’m still using, using the paid work time, but that can’t cut it to work for every package out there. I guess the same thing goes on for Alex, Hans and Gordon.

What’s the bottom-line? Well, Hans in particular has been doing a huge work to port the ebuilds from the old gems.eclass to ruby-fakegem.eclass so that they can be installed when Ruby 1.9 is present without messing that up, even though they wouldn’t work with it. This makes the day that we can get it unmasked much nearer. But there are quite a few cases where we can’t just drop the old version so easily, and it mostly relates to non-gem bindings and the usage of Ruby as a scripting engine (rather than adding support for a library to Ruby itself). And this is without counting further issues like bundler not working altogether too well because it lacks dependency information, or getting Rubygems to refuse messing with the Portage-installed gems altogether (that is now much more feasible than before, since we no longer use the gem command from within Portage to install the stuff).

So what can you do to get this sooner? You can help out by making sure packages work with Ruby 1.9; when they have been positively tested not to work on that version, they are usually marked as so in the ebuild itself; for my part, I always note the problems with an Unicode right-pointed arrow, so running a fgrep command on the tree for “ruby19 →” should give you a very good idea of how many problems (and how many different problems there are out there).

You have no idea where to start with this thing? There is another option: hire me. Well, I would have liked to say “hire us”, but it turns out at least both Alex and Hans are not looking to be hired for this, while a project of mine is delivered this week and then I have some extra time for the next few months. I wouldn’t mind being paid to work full-time on getting Ruby 1.9-ready packages in the tree. I’m a registered freelancer in Italy so I have an European VAT ID and I can make proper invoices, so it’s going to be all clear in the books. If you’re interested you can contact me to discuss pricing and amount of work you’re looking for.

Just please, stop harassing the team because we’re not as fast as you’d like us to be… we’re already doing a hell of a job in a hell of a hurry!

Comments 2
  1. I enjoyed your python-3 reference. I’ve had is masked since forever now.Anyway, the ruby solution seems nice to users (eg. me) and I’ve told others on the ruby team thanks, but I don’t know if you heard it too. So, here it is: thanks for the ruby work.

  2. Diego: You are really giving Ruby 1.9 a hard time. And the result will be that nobody will install the Ruby-1.9 via emerge but via source. Why don’t you try to grab a bit less responsibility and try to get out of the way to clear Ruby-1.9 for the people who want to install it.Also: Why fight Ruby-Gems? That does not make sense. It is a waste of time. You are fighting something that the Ruby-Community wants. You want that the whole world uses emerge to install Ruby software. Well some people prefer gems to install Ruby-Software.Your QA work is appreciated but do not let it get totalitarian.

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