Building Rubinius on Windows - Part 1

I've been meaning to figure out how to build Rubinius on Windows 7 for awhile, but something always seemed to get in the way. You know the story, little things like paying work, business trips, a good jam session, other projects, whatever.

I finally took some time and have made progress solving the puzzle. Thankfully, the Rubinius team has been busy hacking on the core as well as their build environment. There's still a lot to do to make the build environment more usable for Windows Ruby hackers, but I was pleased with how relatively simple it was to progress as far as I did.

While I haven't been able to build Rubinius yet, this post is a snapshot of where I'm at and what I've had to do to get there. In summary:

  1. Install a 1.9 version of the RubyInstaller.
  2. Build a MinGW-w64 version of the DevKit.
  3. Remove the name prefixing from the MinGW-w64 DevKit artifacts.
  4. Prepare your system for building.
  5. Build via ruby configure and rake.

The instructions that follow assume you've already installed and configured a Git client such as MSysGit.

Install the RubyInstaller

If you haven't already done so, install a 1.9 version of the RubyInstaller, add it's bin directory to your PATH environment variable, and make sure you've got the Rake gem installed by typing rake --version. If Rake isn't present, ensure you're connected to the Internet and type gem install rake.

The RubyInstaller is easy to install regardless of whether you use the installer or the 7-Zip archive. If you installed it and tried typing ruby --version in a Command Prompt with no results, drop by our Google Group and ask for help.

Build a Custom MinGW-w64 Based DevKit

One of the features I've built into the RubyInstaller build recipes is the ability to easily create different "flavors" of MinGW-based build toolchains. We're going to take advantage of that feature and build a 32bit, MinGW-w64 based flavor and use it to build Rubinius. To build it, simply do the following:

# clone the RubyInstaller GitHub repository
C:\>git clone git://

# build your custom DevKit
C:\>cd rubyinstaller
C:\rubyinstaller>rake devkit 7z=1 dkver=mingw64-32-4.5.4

# find your MinGW-w64 DevKit in C:\rubyinstaller\pkg

Unfortunately, you've got one more tweak to make before the MinGW-w64 DevKit is usable for building Rubinius. You've got to remove the prefixing from the toolchain executable names.

Until the MinGW-w64 standard downloads are available in non-cross-compiling versions, or I update the DevKit build recipes (on my TODO), you'll need to manually strip the name prefixing from the relevant executables in your <DEVKIT_INSTALL_DIR>\mingw\bin directory. Here's a Ruby script and example to help you out.

# file: deprefix.rb
def usage_and_exit(code)
  STDERR.puts 'usage: ruby deprefix.rb ROOT_DIR PREFIX'

usage_and_exit(-1) unless ARGV.length == 2

dir = ARGV[0].gsub('\\', File::SEPARATOR)
prefix = ARGV[1]

usage_and_exit(-2) unless

Dir.glob(File.join(dir, "#{prefix}-*.exe")).each do |f|
  d = File.dirname(f)
  b = File.basename(f)
  puts "renaming #{f} => #{d}/#{b.split(/-/)[3]}"
  File.rename(f, "#{d}/#{b.split(/-/)[3]}")

Copy the above script as deprefix.rb into the root directory of wherever you installed your MinGW-w64 DevKit (C:\DevKit-w64 for this post) and run the script like so.

C:\DevKit-w64>ruby deprefix.rb mingw\bin i686-w64-mingw32
renaming mingw/bin/i686-w64-mingw32-addr2line.exe => mingw/bin/addr2line.exe
renaming mingw/bin/i686-w64-mingw32-ar.exe => mingw/bin/ar.exe
renaming mingw/bin/i686-w64-mingw32-as.exe => mingw/bin/as.exe
renaming mingw/bin/i686-w64-mingw32-c++.exe => mingw/bin/c++.exe
renaming mingw/bin/i686-w64-mingw32-windres.exe => mingw/bin/windres.exe


Prepare for Building

Next, you need to clone the Rubinius source repository, create a new branch based off of the 2.0.0pre branch, and add the MinGW-w64 based DevKit to your PATH env var like so.

# clone Rubinius and create a branch for hacking
C:\projects>git clone git://

C:\projects>cd rubinius
C:\projects\rubinius>git checkout -b win-build origin/2.0.0pre

# add the MinGW-w64 DevKit tools to your PATH
Adding the DevKit to PATH...



You're now set up and ready to pull the trigger, so get building!

C:\projects\rubinius>ruby --version
ruby 1.9.2p290 (2011-07-09 revision 32478) [i386-mingw32]

C:\projects\rubinius>ruby configure --with-vendor-zlib

# see how Rubinius configured itself
C:\projects\rubinius>ruby configure --show

Using the following configuration to build
module Rubinius
    :which_ruby     => :ruby,
    :build_ruby     => "C:/ruby192/bin/ruby.exe",
    :build_rake     => "rake",
    :build_perl     => "perl",
    :llvm           => :prebuilt,
    :vendor_zlib    => false,

Setting the following defines for the VM
#define RBX_HOST          "i686-pc-mingw32"
#define RBX_CPU           "i686"
#define RBX_VENDOR        "pc"
#define RBX_OS            "mingw32"
#define RBX_ZLIB_PATH     ""
#define RBX_DEFAULT_18    true
#define RBX_DEFAULT_19    false
#define RBX_DEFAULT_20    false
#define RBX_ENABLED_18    1
#define RBX_HAVE_TR1_HASH 1
#define RBX_WINDOWS 1

# time to build! make a cup of green tea while you wait...

After successfully building for quite awhile you should see the build fail with an error similar to the following. This failure appears to be caused by the fact that the zlib library hasn't been built. This isn't surprising given that ruby configure --show displayed :vendor_zlib => false and #define RBX_ZLIB_PATH "". UPDATE: there appears to be a bug in configure and I've submitted a simple pull request to fix the issue of the zlib library not being built.

2: CC vm/vmmethod.cpp
Build time: 461.15241 seconds
1: LD vm/vm.exe
C:/ruby192/bin/ruby.exe -S rake  -r C:/projects/rubinius/config.rb
-r C:/projects/rubinius/rakelib/ext_helper.rb
-r C:/projects/rubinius/rakelib/dependency_grapher.rb build:build
Building bootstrap Melbourne for MRI
CXX bstrlib.c
CXX encoding_compat.cpp
CXX grammar18.cpp
CXX grammar19.cpp
CXX melbourne.cpp
CXX node_types18.cpp
CXX node_types19.cpp
CXX quark.cpp
CXX symbols.cpp
CXX var_table18.cpp
CXX var_table19.cpp
CXX visitor18.cpp
CXX visitor19.cpp
GEN runtime/platform.conf
rake aborted!
Compilation error generating constants rbx.platform.zlib:
        In file included from C:/projects/rubinius/rbx-ffi-generators-rbx-platform-zlib.c:2:0:
        vendor/zlib/zlib.h:34:19: fatal error: zconf.h: No such file or directory
        compilation terminated.

Tasks: TOP => default => build => build:build => kernel:build => runtime/platform.conf
(See full trace by running task with --trace)

A Wart

While it's really too early for me to discuss the Rubinius build environment warts, one ugly does jump out.

  1. There appears to be no automated way to clean up the build environment as rake distclean doesn't do what you expect it to do. I had to go into each vendor/ sub-directory and manually run either make distclean or make clean depending upon the library. The rake distclean should bring the the source tree back to a pristine state by cleaning the vendor/ subdirectories, while the rake clean target should correctly skip cleaning those subdirectories.


While I've made a lot of progress in building Rubinius on Windows 7, unfortunately I'm not yet able to successfully and repeatedly build the Rubinius project. This likely has more to do with my current unfamiliarity with Rubinius than anything else.

In future posts I plan to summarize what I needed to do to successfully build Rubinius on Windows 7. Meanwhile, if you spot anything that I'm doing wrong or have any suggestions, I'd like to hear from you via email or Twitter.

And I'm sure Brian Ford and others on the Rubinius team would also like to hear about your progress.

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