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extconf.rb:1:in `require': no such file to load -- mkmf (LoadError)

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Problem: You're trying to install a gem and you encounter an error reading no such file to load -- mkmf. This doesn't always occur, only when you're trying to install gems with native C code that must be compiled.

Solution: Install your operating system's development environment. Most operating systems don't come with a C compiler and related build tools. In order to compile gems with native C extensions, you'll need these. How to install these depends on your operating system.

  • On Ubuntu Linux, there are a few packages you need to install with apt. Once these are installed, this error should be fixed.

    $ sudo apt-get install build-essential libopenssl-ruby ruby1.8-dev

    For other distributions of Linux, refer to your distributions documentation.

  • On Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" (and possibly earlier or later versions), simply install XCode. Specific directions on how to do this, complete with screenshots, are available here.

  • Windows is the least friendly operating system to work with in this respect. In the past, this was a very difficult thing to get working. However, Ruby Installer provides a DevKit that may work for you.

    If you find Windows to be too unfriendly, you may want to consider installing Ubuntu Linux on VirtualBox. You'll have a full Linux environment without having to repartition your system.

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