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MySQL Ruby Gem CentOS RHEL 5 Installation Error Troubleshooting

By Adam Vollrath
February 9, 2010

Building and installing the Ruby mysql gem on freshly-installed Red Hat based systems sometimes produces the frustratingly ambiguous error below:

# gem install mysql
/usr/bin/ruby extconf.rb
checking for mysql_ssl_set()... no
checking for rb_str_set_len()... no
checking for rb_thread_start_timer()... no
checking for mysql.h... no
checking for mysql/mysql.h... no
*** extconf.rb failed ***
Could not create Makefile due to some reason, probably lack of
necessary libraries and/or headers.  Check the mkmf.log file for more
details.  You may need configuration options.

Searching the web for info on this error yields two basic solutions:

  1. Install the mysql-devel package (this provides the mysql.h file in /usr/include/mysql/).
  2. Run gem install mysql – –with-mysql-config=/usr/bin/mysql_config or some other additional options.

These are correct but not sufficient. Because this gem compiles a library to interface with MySQL’s C API, the gcc and make packages are also required to create the build environment:

# yum install mysql-devel gcc make
# gem install mysql -- --with-mysql-config=/usr/bin/mysql_config

Alternatively, if you’re using your distro’s ruby (not a custom build like Ruby Enterprise Edition), you can install EPEL’s ruby-mysql package along with their rubygem-rails and other packages.

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