What Ruby Runtime Environment Should You Use?

Common Ruby users probably have no idea what a “Ruby interpreter and runtime” is.

The reason for this is because the possibility that there could be better options than the current Ruby interpreter never actually occurred to you.

Ruby’s implementation, however, isn’t a lock; you could discover that others work better for your needs.

Unfortunately, there is limited advice available on which Ruby interpreter and runtime to use, or a list of the available Ruby interpreters.

This essay has been written to provide an overview of the various modern interpreters and runtimes, along with details about their capabilities and the factors to consider when determining which one to use for a given project.

The role of the interpreter is defined.

Effective communication is essential for successful input and output. Languages provide the means to create this connection, with their key components such as grammar, lexicon and syntax allowing for clear understanding and agreement between multiple parties.

For input or output, however, a translation or interpretation may be necessary if the parties involved do not share a same language.

In order for machines to carry out tasks, they must be provided with precise instructions, thus making the concept of interpretation or translation central to programming languages.

The machine code is the simplest form of computer instruction, and it is the only language the CPU can comprehend immediately.

It is not possible for humans to input machine code directly, so programmers use source code written in high-level languages to generate binary files that can be run by computers.

An interpreter or compiler is a program that performs this transformation from human-readable source code to machine code.

To Interpret or to Compile

Not sure whether you need a Ruby compiler or an Interpreter. Find the solution to your problem below.

Every programming language requires a specific compiler or interpreter to be included in its associated development kit. For instance, the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) compiler and the CPython Interpreter are used to convert high-level source code into machine language for the Python language.

However, what distinguishes a compiler from an interpreter?

  • Without first translating them to machine code, an interpreter runs the code written in a programming or scripting language directly.
  • By contrast, once linked, the machine is capable of executing the object (sometimes referred to as a binary representation) of the program that was generated by the compiler.
  • For Ruby to work, you’ll need an interpreter, since the language’s code was written specifically for that purpose.

Language as Interpreted vs. Language as Compiled

At runtime, interpreted languages transform their source code into machine code, while compiled languages do this before execution.

In contrast, a program written in a compiled language must first be translated from its source code into machine code before it can be run.

One or the other of these has benefits and drawbacks.

  • Interpreted languages can offer greater versatility, portability across platforms and ease of debugging, however they can come with a decrease in performance and speed due to the need to translate code while the program is running.
  • However, compiled languages are quicker because they optimize their code for a variety of platforms before it is even run.

Language Translation for Ruby

Ruby‘s interpreter is flexible, responding quickly to alterations within the language. In contrast to Python, Ruby does not include a comprehensive guide to its syntax and grammar.

Programmers frequently rely on the community-driven Ruby Spec Suite, a collection of tests which are used to ensure that a specific Ruby implementation is correctly interpreting the code.

The Ruby Interpreter, How Do I Run It?

After downloading and installing Ruby, you may run programs written in Ruby by typing:

To output “Hello, world!” using the ruby programming language, use %ruby -e.

Saying “Hello, World!”

The -e option on the interpreter’s command line prompts the interpreter to run the code at the given line.

In most cases, though, you’ll save your Ruby code in the language’s native.rb file format and instruct the interpreter to run it.

“% ruby hello.rb”

Saying “Hello, World!”

The Requirement of Substitutes

Even though the language has certain drawbacks, it still has to be pushed forward, so long as there are alternatives.

Ruby has various implementations, each tailored to suit a particular set of conditions or platform. Depending on the implementation chosen, these options can potentially provide substantial improvements in terms of both performance and memory usage for Rails applications.

Prior to the introduction of Ruby Version Interpreter (RVI), MRI was the predominant Ruby interpreter. However, when compared to the concurrency capabilities of JRuby and Rubinius, it was found to be lacking, as well as having issues with memory and garbage collection.

Get to Know the Comp-Interpreters

Below, we’ll talk about some of the most well-known substitute interpreters and how they’re often used.

1. YARV (Yet Another Ruby VM) (Yet Another Ruby VM)

The YARV interpreter is the recommended Ruby interpreter for stack-based systems. It superseded the MRI interpreter which was introduced in the Ruby 1.9 release (also known as CRuby) and remains the recommended interpreter as of Ruby 3.1.

When executing a Ruby application, YARV converts the source code into a set of instructions that can be executed by the Ruby Virtual Machine. The emulation provided by this VM improves the stability and predictability of the programs, making them able to be executed on any system.

2. CRuby/MRI

Previously, we used an interpreter known as MRI, which stands for Matz Ruby interpreter (named after the creator of Ruby Yukihiro Matsumoto).

It is commonly known that the first Ruby interpreter was written in C, hence the name CRuby. The Ruby code is parsed using an abstract syntax tree by MRI/CRuby, whereas YARV employs the parse Ruby language.

3. JRuby

JRuby is an interpreter for the Ruby language, like CRuby, that runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). This means that Ruby joins other JVM-based languages such as Clojure and Scala.

The JRuby Ruby interpreter is capable of operating across a wide range of environments due to its compatibility with the Java platform. This allows it to be used with mobile applications, desktop computers and servers, and to take advantage of the Java platform’s built-in and third-party libraries.

Speed is a priority for web servers that are running for extended periods, and JRuby is well-suited to multithreaded and concurrent processing. JRuby’s garbage collection is superior, although it has a large memory footprint and a slow start-up time. If external libraries are used, debugging CLASSPATH errors can be challenging. Ruby on Rails has a comprehensive API which enables web designers to incorporate the latest features and functionality into their projects.

It is noteworthy that JRuby does not provide support for several core features of Ruby, such as C Application Programming Interface (API) and the ObjectSpace module, which offers extensive introspection capabilities.

Despite its shortcomings, JRuby Interpreter is preferable due to its ability to enable developers to make use of the most efficient optimizations for their Rails applications, such as utilizing the JIT compiler and native Java objects and Application Programming Interfaces.

4. Rubinius

In order to surpass competing Ruby interpreters such as YARV, CRuby/MRI and JRuby, Rubinius Ruby interpreter utilizes minimal C code for programme interpretation.

This product is developed using C++ as the foundation, with the remainder composed almost entirely of Ruby code. As an additional advantage, it is a low-level virtual machine that can be utilized as a generalized runtime for dynamic programming languages.

This setup allows the Rubinius code to operate with better performance, memory management, and lower overhead.

So, if you need fast Rails servers without the trade-offs of JRuby, this Ruby interpreter might do the trick.

5. Opal

The Ruby programming language can be transpiled into JavaScript with the assistance of Opal, a transpiler. Its performance is as fast as runtime, its size is small, and it is preloaded with the Ruby core library.

The evaluation of the Ruby interpreter is conducted against a limited section of RubySpec, as it is the only one that can be relied upon to consistently behave. Nevertheless, there are still issues that need to be addressed, such as the inherited characteristics of JavaScript implementations and runtimes.

Opal can be used independently or integrated into an existing pipeline, such as the Rails Asset Pipeline, to automate tasks such as transforming your somefile.js.rb into JavaScript.

If you are looking to develop a comprehensive online application using Rails, Opal could be the optimal solution. This is because it enables Ruby code to be executed on the server-side, while JavaScript can be executed on the client-side through Opal.

Ruby’s syntax provides an advantage over standard JavaScript libraries such as jQuery, due to its ability to automatically recognize interactions with JavaScript APIs. This also allows for a smooth transition to JavaScript.

Opal’s abilities and limitations stem from its JavaScript base. Unfortunately, this means that it is subject to the same runtime and architectural decisions as JavaScript.

6. RubyMotion

RubyMotion is a commercially available tool which enables the development of cross-platform applications for both iOS and Android. It comes with a Ruby interpreter and language bindings which allow Ruby to interact with Cocoa APIs.

Its terminal-based workflow, which gives you access to and control over your applications through a robust command line, makes it stand out.

In addition, Ruby Gems are available to enhance iOS and Android applications and projects. Furthermore, the functionality is built-in and supports Cocoapods.

Ruby motion also has a fully working debugger and behavior-driven testing built into in.

7. mRuby

Have you had enough of online Ruby Interpreters because they either demand too much bandwidth or overwhelm you with intrusive advertisements?

Because of its small size and speedy operations, mRuby may be the best Ruby interpreter for you.

It is intended to be an embedded implementation of Ruby, which can be used for programming microcontrollers such as the Raspberry Pi, as well as scripting in native applications.

More so, the mRuby interpreter may be the best option for you if your project has stringent limitations.

Is There a Preferred Ruby Runtime and Interpreter? What We Think Is Right

It is dependent on the specifics of your project as to which option is best for converting your online app into a mobile app – mRuby and Ruby Motion could be the ideal choice. Should you wish to create a more advanced app, the Ruby interpreter can be configured with various gems and libraries.

It is guaranteed that the YARV Ruby interpreter, the finest available for Rails development, will be included in the most recent version of Ruby.

However, if speed is your top need, you may want to look at JRuby and Rubinius instead of the previous interpreter CRuby/MRI.


Having a range of different development strategies available when tackling various projects, each with their own distinct specifications and requirements, is advantageous.

There is no single Ruby implementation which can satisfy all of these requirements; it is necessary to evaluate the most suitable options to identify which one performs optimally in each area.

There are a number of high-quality Ruby interpreters and runtimes currently available, such as YARV, CRuby/MRI, JRuby, Rubinius, Opal, Ruby Motion and mRuby. This article can help you identify which of these alternatives may be the best choice for your upcoming project, should you be dissatisfied with your current interpreter.

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