Category: system configuration
Tags: node, ruby, jekyll
Disclaimer: This post is primarily self-documentational. It’s probably not entertaining (at least for the majority of people :)
My laptop has been working great for over three years running Windows 7 and (X)ubuntu side-by-side. In the past few weeks though it’s been freezing kinda frequently. I ran system diagnostics tests and the hard drive failed a few tests. So I thought the problems must trace back to the hard drive; so I got a new one, a 500GB SSD drive. And as a sidenote it’s pretty fast: booting Xubuntu 14.04 from power button to ready in 13 seconds.
Anyway, so on the old hard drive I had Windows 7 and Xubuntu 14.04 side-by-side. I had more space allocated for the Windows partition than I now wanted and as a result had been thinking of reinstalling everything for several months already. So when I installed the new hard drive, I didn’t opt for cloning the old one but installing everything afresh.
Installing Node using Node.js Version Manager (NVM)
Old way using apt-get
Though I mostly don’t code for/with Node.js, there are a few toolchain reasons why I need Node.js. I could simply use
sudo apt-get install nodejs npm (like I had done when installing it on the previous hard drive) but the repository packages tend to be old in terms of how quickly Node.js development is moving.
New way using NVM
So after a bit of research I figured using Node Version Manager would probably be the best route. So this is what I did:
This will install NVM in your home directory (
~/.nvm) and add a few NVM-related initialization lines in your
Install Node and NPM
Next, select and install the version of Node.js that you want to install. You can install multiple versions. You can list all the available versions with
nvm ls-remote. Initially I went with
for installing the newest version that was available at the time.
After installation was done I ran
node -v and
npm -v to make sure everything seemed to be working correctly; and both worked ok…except when I started a new console window and tried again with
node -v and
npm -v they both reported the required commands were not found.
Fixing ‘No command found’
Initially I simply opted for adding the following to the end of my
~/.bashrc after the few lines that were added by the NVM installation:
export PATH="$NVM_DIR/versions/node/v5.1.0/bin:$PATH. This essentially permanently adds the Node path to the beginning of the
Later I realized that a better solution for the same problem is:
This approach doesn’t modify the
~/.bashrc file but uses the NVM related stuff that’s already there. This is the correct way of approaching the issue.
But why did Node.js go from 0.12.x to 4.0.0 ?
As a side-note, in case you’re wondering why Node.js versioning jumped from 0.12.x to 4.0, read the background.
Installing Ruby and Jekyll using rbenv
When I initially started using Jekyll a few years ago it was a bit of a pain getting it set up. I was kinda fearing it might be a pain now as well. And I was right.
apt-get vs. rbenv vs. rvm
Earlier I had installed Ruby 1.9.3-dev using
sudo apt-get install ruby1.9.3-dev or something along those lines. I remember it was a pain with all the dependency problems due to compiling. I didn’t wanna use
apt-get again for this even though I normally like it.
So my choices are rbenv and rvm. After doing some reading I came to the conclusion that of the two, rbenv is a more light-weight and less intrusive approach so I opted for that. In addition to the official documentation, DigitalOcean’s tutorial proved to be great.
So short-n-sweet, this is what I did:
as suggested by the above mentioned DigitalOcean tutorial. Actually I had already installed git, curl and build-essential earlier so I left them out.
The following will first clone rbenv in your home directory under the
.rbenv subdirectory. After that it was add initialization code to your
Preparing to install Ruby
The following will clone the required stuff to make installing Ruby quick-n-easy. Without the following you won’t have
rbenv install available to you:
Finally installing Ruby
Once you’re this far you’re now ready to install Ruby. To list the available version, run
rbenv install --list. Once you’ve selected the version to use (like here I opted to use version
2.2.3), you can run the installation:
Notice that the
-v flag is actually not referring to version in this case (as you might think) but is a flag to turn the verbose installation mode on. More info about install flags:
rbenv help install.
The newest version of Jekyll is now v3.0.1. I tried this first but some of my sites broke on so I went to v2.5.3. Here’s a list of the available Jekyll versions. Installing it goes as follows:
Initially it turned out Jekyll 2.5.3 didn’t seem to work at all but was giving me a major crash every time. The crash was relating to execjs not being able to run. After a while of trying I realized the problem was that I had not done
nvm alias default node as explained earlier in this article. Node.js was not in
PATH and as a result Jekyll didn’t run.
After a fair amount of frustration,
ruby (2.2.3) and
jekyll (v2.5.3) now work correctly, yey!
Another approach would be to automate this using Ansible for example. But as
- I need to do this only once every few years and
- things change rapidly in the tech field,
the automation solution I would create might become obsolete before I’d ever need to use it again.
Deriving from xkcd’s excellent break-down, if doing something once every two years and being able to save 2 hours by automation, I shouldn’t be using more than 5 hours on optimizing the process. And the gain from optimization is tallied across a five year time in xkcd’s calculation. In five years things change A LOT. So basically, it’s very iffy whether it’s worth automating setting up your own workstation…unfortunately…
Unless I’ve completely missed something essential :)