Compiling Vim with Ruby and Python Support


Like a lot of developers, I use vim. Of course, I don’t use straight out of the box vim though. I use Vundle and other settings (see my dot files for more) to make it better.

Sometimes there are plugins, or packages that require vim to be compiled with support for ruby and/or python. One example of this is the excellent Command-T plugin. Unfortunately, the default package doesn’t include these flags during compilation. But fear not, the process is simple enough and only takes a few minutes.

Downloading and Extracting the Source

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could just clone the source and build straight from the master branch (git mirror). However, I would strongly suggest grabbing a copy of the latest actual release.

To see a list of releases check out the releases page here.

At the time of this writing, the latest version was 7-4-589, so I’ll assume that’s the version you want. If you want a different version, simply replace all instances of 7-4-589 with the desired version number.

To get started, let’s download the release. If you’re using a browser, just click on the tar.gz link for the release on the releases page.

If you use vagrant or simply don’t have a browser available, you can grab the file using curl like this:

curl -L > vim.tar.gz

Now we need to extract the tar file. feel free to use a GUI tool if you have one. I prefer the console personally.

tar -zxvf vim-7-4-589.tar.gz

Building and Installing Vim

Now we need to build and install vim using the rubyinterp and pythoninterp flags. This is fairly straightforward:

cd vim-7-4-589
./configure --enable-rubyinterp --enable-pythoninterp
make && sudo make install

You can verify that it worked by running vim --version. You should see a + next to both ruby and python now. Like this:

vim version

Automating With Chef

If you use chef to provision your dev environment (like me), you can use this recipe to automate what was described above.


Be sure to add depends "ark" to your cookbook’s metadata.rb file.


If you’re not using 7-4-589 be sure to generate the correct hash like so:

shasum vim-<version>.tar.gz -a 256

Happy Viming!

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