Using Gedit as a Ruby IDE

For a long time I have been a Netbeans ‘person’ when it comes to Ruby IDEs. However when Oracle announced that they will discontinue Ruby support for Netbeans, I decided to start looking for alternatives instead of ranting how Darth Ellison is screwing the OSS community in his quest to rule the interwebs.

I went hunting and found Rubymine the slick Ruby editor from Jetbrains with a lot of bells and whistles. Rubymine turned out to be a solid IDE and it is what presently my colleagues at work use. Its got good support for other ruby frameworks such as Cucumber, Rspec and Shoulda. It seemed like a mature IDE.

After the 30 day free trial period was over,  I continued the search. I tried Vim for a few days but my vim skills are not as sharp so I left it just for editing system and config files. Later I tried Redcar. It was cool and kinda much lighter than Netbeans and Rubymine. I used it for a couple of weeks then decided to move on since it seemed new and was still trying to get traction.

I once tried Aptana 2 years ago and I dread ever going back. At the time I was just getting into Ruby from Java and I needed an IDE that looked like Eclipse. I ended up trashing it a few days later as it constantly crashed on me. Maybe they’ve improved it.

Then I came across some blog post of a guy who modified his Gedit to look like Textmate. The idea of using such a lightweight editor and the fact that it wouldn’t hog on my limited resources as a fully fledged IDE would seemed a good enough reason to try it. I spent quite some time tweaking the syntax highlighting color scheme and the more I did the more I liked the result. I installed a few plugins and that’s when I really got hooked. That kinda addiction you get after you’ve spent a few hours playing Minecraft.  A few months later while setting up a new workstation I come across Gmate and since then I’ve never looked at another IDE again. I swear!

Gmate awesomeness

So what Gmate really is is its a set of plugins and improvements to make Gedit a powerful programmer code editor.

To setup Gmate just do the following (Assuming youre running Linux already and you have Gedit installed)
For ubuntu

$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-on-rails/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install gedit-gmate

Then install the gedit plugins
$ sudo apt-get install gedit-plugins
That’s it. All you have to do thereafter is just edit the Gedit preferences to your liking.

My setup consists of the following

  • Tab width: 2 spaces.
  • Line numbering enabled.
  • Right margin at column 80
  • Turned on Automatic Indentation
  • Font: Liberation Mono 11
  • Color Scheme: Customized Railscasts black. If you need to customize any of the color schemes, check under the folder /usr/share/gtksourceview-2.0/styles/. They are just XML files with hex color codes. You can overwrite a pre-existing one but I prefer using one as a template and editing it like hell.


  • Embeded Terminal
  • File browser Pane
  • Multi-edit
  • TODO List
  • Tab Switch
  • Textmate Style autocompletion
  • Code comment
  • Find in Files
  • Rails Extract Partial

11 thoughts on “Using Gedit as a Ruby IDE

  1. Tushar Kumar says:

    Nice post

  2. Hypnotoad says:

    Fantastic feature set, but lack of ctags support is a killer. Wonder if gedit could be made to utilize that through a plugin?

  3. donbicca says:

    Very nice post and excellent choice. I have been through pretty much the same path and ended up using gedit+gmate as well.

  4. Marcus says:

    Nice post Kibet,

    I’m new to Ruby, but am using Gedit because it’s there on Centos. The plain interface is good and works ok for me at the moment…..

    What does gmate add in particular? And does it affect the ease, looks, and simplicity of using Gedit to write Ruby code?


    • kibyegon says:

      Gmate adds additional color schemes and makes gedit feel like a real code editor. You should try it out and see if its your cup of tea. Just look at their

  5. marcus says:

    I trieds installing it, but I had to install git and a load of dependencies for Centos. In the end I broke Gedit…..

  6. Marcus says:

    I fixed it up though Kibet, it was no big issue in the end. I use Centos rather than Ubuntu as my OS. I am new to programming, but so far I find the Gedit/Gmate toolkit really excellent. Thanks for the help. Have you tied Centos? It is a really stable OS, and by far the best linux distro I have tried.

  7. […] was following the link GMate and Using Gedit as a Ruby IDE to make my Gedit as IDE. But when all the command was running good,the below one throwing me an […]

  8. […] was following the link GMate and Using Gedit as a Ruby IDE to make my Gedit as IDE. But when all the command was running good,the below one throwing me an […]

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