Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

If a package is available both through apt-get and gem, which one should I choose?

I'm on Ubuntu and I don't know if I should install rake through apt-get or gem.

I use both apt-get and gem packages a lot.

What are the pros and cons with each?

share|improve this question

migrated from Aug 19 '10 at 22:53

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

Wrong forum to post this on, this is more of a question... when it closes, it will be migrated across.... – t0mm13b Aug 19 '10 at 22:48
@tommieb75: I can see why this would fit in SU, but I'm kind of surprised that it's not seen as programming-related. – Andrew Grimm Aug 19 '10 at 23:41
@Andrew: where does it say anything in the question in relation to programming....???!!! I do not see it... :) This is the right place for it and answers are below....! ;) – t0mm13b Aug 25 '10 at 22:17
up vote 4 down vote accepted

You should always use RubyGems to install any kind of Gems (eg. Rails) to reduce confusion.

Ruby on Rails: gem install versus apt-get

share|improve this answer
Using only apt-get would also reduce confusion. What about other reasons? – JonnyJD Dec 22 '12 at 19:55

You should use


  • If you care about uninstalling gems with their dependencies. RubyGems will not uninstall unused dependencies. See do-i-have-to-manually-uninstall-all-dependent-gems. If you care about uninstalling gems as a group, rvm is also an option (see below).
  • If that gem would or should install executables in /usr/bin.
  • If you want to upgrade gems together with the rest of the system (automatically)


  • If you want the most simple approach
  • If you want to have multiple versions of a gem available on the system
  • Need very recent or very old versions of some gems
  • Want to install only for one user


  • If you want to install certain gems only for one application

rvm + gem

  • If you need different sets of gems installed or removed independently

You should not mix between using apt-get and gem arbitrarily. That means you should not, but when you do; you should know and remember why you did this.

When you use different methods, the overall system gets more complex.

share|improve this answer
Please comment if some main reasons or consequences are missing. I still don't feel like I know the perfect solution myself. – JonnyJD Dec 22 '12 at 20:31

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.