RVM install in MacOS High Sierra: Problem – Solution

Preamble – the Problem

If you prefer your testautomation like i do – in Ruby within a version manager – then it is likely that you will eventually face the following situation in one or the other way:

Error running '__rvm_make - j4'
Please read [...]/make.log
There has been an error while running make.
Halting the installation.

A quick look into the mentioned make.log shows:

./miniruby: permission denied

In my case it happened, when i tried to conveniently install a Ruby from the 2.3 series using rvm:

rvm install 2.3.7

After a while full of painful investigation resulting in lots of „operation not permitted“, I decided to solve it in a pragmatic way: by using

rvm mount

The Solution: rvm mount

So what are we gonna do?

We will install Ruby from source to a custom directory first, and rvm mount it afterwards to make it available in RVM. We assume you have RVM installed already.

  1. First we need to make sure, that we have all required external dependencies. Usually openssl and gdbm are sufficient.  Do brew install openssl and brew install gdbm
  2. Download and extract the source of your favorite Ruby-version to your Downloads-directory. For example from: https://cache.ruby-lang.org/pub/ruby/2.3/ruby-2.3.7.tar.gz (feel free to adapt the version to your target version)
  3. Open a terminal and move into the extracted folder.
  4. Do ./configure –with-gdbm-dir=“$(brew –prefix gdbm)“ –with-openssl-dir=“$(brew –prefix openssl)“ –prefix=RUBY_TARGET_DIR
    1. We have to specify gdbm’s and openssl’s installation directory, because brew installed these keg-only on my machine. That means it is installed, but not symlinked to /usr/bin or /usr/local/bin.
    2. RUBY_TARGET_DIR can be any custom directory you have free access to. I recommend smething like $HOME/rubies/<version key, e.g. 2.3.7/>
  5. Do make and make install.
  6. Now that we have our precious Ruby, where we want it to be, it is time to register it in RVM; do rvm mount /your/path/chosen/in/step4
  7. When prompted, give it a nice name and proceed. Don’t wonder, it will get prefixed with ext-. This is normal.
  8. Do rvm list and copy the name of your new Ruby.
  9. Do rvm use <the copied name> as usual.
  10. Check if your ruby is used correctly: Do ruby -v. It should display the expected ruby version.
  11. Go ahead and have fun with your new Ruby.


Starting from here, you achieved not only a Ruby that works, but also the freedom to build and install your favorite programming language exactly the way you want without missing out the cool features of a Ruby version manager and without any sudo-hassle. Maybe this way is a nice alternative for our fellow rbenv – users, too..? If you have a question, a better solution or any remarks, feel free to leave a comment. Otherwise, have a great day & rock on!

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