Wednesday Oct 14, 2009

Rake should be on the default PATH...

I can convince myself of anything. When we updated from RubyGems 0.9.4 to 1.3.5 I decided that it was ok for the 'rake' command to be in the $GEM_HOME/bin which then translated to /var/ruby/1.8/gem_home/bin. I justified it because users could run 'gem env', look at the "EXECUTABLE DIRECTORY" and see that they had to add /var/ruby/1.8/gem_home/bin to their $PATH env var. Having had to install and then run rake several times on different systems over the last few days I can see that this is wrong. I want to 'gem install rake' and then run 'rake <some rake task>' without the need to update my PATH. I'm certain that others will agree that this is how it should be.

I could easily change the way that we build RubyGems such that the "EXECUTABLE DIRECTORY" defaults to /usr/bin but I have no way of being certain that when the end user runs 'gem install <some gem with an executable>' that /usr/bin will actually be writable even by root (or the root role as used by pfexec). We have the Rails package in the /contrib repository that also delivers the Rake gem. This package installs the 'rake' executable to /usr/bin, but it's a bit much to ask you to install Rails just to get Rake. I seem to have the following options:

  1. With the SUNWruby18 package on OpenSolaris, provide wrapper scripts in /usr/bin for the popular gems that deliver executables. These would emit a message saying to install the require Gem should it not already be installed and run as normal if it is. This has a few corner cases that have to be considered
  2. Provide a /contrib package that provides wrapper scripts for popular gems which would work as described in (1)
  3. Change "EXECUTABLE DIRECTORY" to /usr/bin and modify RubyGems to detect the writability of /usr/bin. It does this by default but would end up installing any affected gems in root's ~/.gem directory.

I favour option 3, but only if it can be done without significant changes to RubyGems.


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