How to install KidsRuby on Mac OS X and Ubuntu

I have two kids, and I have been wanting to find ways to introduce my kids to programming. Especially for my son, who has asperger syndrome. I thought programming would be a good way to use his interests in logic and mathematics to good use.

I was so much in joy when I found KidsRuby. It’s an awesome project. I think Ruby is a great first language because of its elegance and object-oriented nature to the core.

Previously I had a hard time installing KidsRuby my Mac OS X, due to qt installation error. I was able to at least get it going by cloning their git repository. I had filed a bug for the qt installation error, and the author responded some time ago, but I hadn’t had time to verify it.

I finally had time to verify it, and it worked like a charm.

I also had converted two first-generation Google Chromebooks to use Ubuntu to give to my kids. And while I was familiar with Fedora, this was my first time using Ubuntu, and as new user, I had to search around the net to install Ruby and to install KidsRuby. I am close to finishing it, and I will describe it here.

Mac OS X

This one is pretty easy. Just download the installer dmg file from here, and follow the instruction. It will take a while, but it would be well worth it. You can find the KidsRuby folder in Application folder.

Ubuntu

Now, this one took a while. If you have Ruby installed already, you are good to go. If not, follow the direction below.

If Ruby isn’t installed

You can simply follow the direction from Ryan Bigg to install Ruby 1.9.3.

If Ruby is already installed

I am not sure which version of Ruby is supported, but this applies to Ruby 1.9.3.

The biggest problem I faced was the problem with ffi gem. I kept getting the following error.

Installing ffi (1.0.10) with native extensions
Gem::Installer::ExtensionBuildError: ERROR: Failed to build gem native extension.

        /usr/bin/ruby1.9.1 extconf.rb
:29:in `require': no such file to load -- mkmf (LoadError)
	from :29:in `require'
	from extconf.rb:4:in `'

Gem files will remain installed in /usr/share/kidsruby/ffi/ruby/1.9.1/gems/ffi-1.0.10 for inspection.
Results logged to /usr/share/kidsruby/ffi/ruby/1.9.1/gems/ffi-1.0.10/ext/ffi_c/gem_make.out
An error occured while installing ffi (1.0.10), and Bundler cannot continue.
Make sure that `gem install ffi -v '1.0.10'` succeeds before bundling.

After searching the net for a while, I realized that I needed to install “-dev” package as well. Since I am using 1.9.3, I had to install ruby1.9.1-dev.

sudo apt-get install ruby1.9.1-dev

After that you can clone the git repository and install necessary packages.

git clone https://github.com/hybridgroup/kidsruby.git

cd kidsruby

sudo apt-get install libqt4-dev
sudo apt-get install cmake
gem install qtbindings
bundle install

The bundle install part will take a while.

For the lesson part, I had a surprising result – my son totally lost interest very quickly, but my daughter was more into it. :)

KidsRuby on Ubuntu

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Fresh installation of Ruby, Rails, Git, RubyGems, and Postgresql 8.x

Most people need to do this only when they get a new system. I had to go through this to help out a potential brogrammer, and it would have been much easier if I pointed him to one place where he could just following direction. Instruction here applies to Mac OS X 10.6.x.

For Windows users, use the convenient installer done by guys at EngineYard from here (http://railsinstaller.org/) to install Ruby, Rails, etc., and installer from Postgres from here (http://www.postgresql.org/download/windows/) to install Postgresql.

1. Install Xcode

Xcode is included in the Mac OS X install disc. You can install from the DVD or you can down load it from here,
http://developer.apple.com/xcode/. If you already have xcode installed, you are good to go.

2. Install Git

Download and install git if you don’t have one already. Do the following and see if returns a version.

git --version

Best place is to go here (http://git-scm.com/), and download and install the latest stable release.

3. Install RVM and Ruby

RVM lets you manage set of gems for Ruby/Rails version combination. This is the best way to install Ruby and Rails. Follow the link below and install RVM and Ruby version 1.9.2 (which is latest, stable version as of this time).

curl -L get.rvm.io | bash -s stable --ruby

3.1. Then, update the .bash_profile (or whatever shell profile or rc file you need)

echo '[[ -s "$HOME/.rvm/scripts/rvm" ]] && . "$HOME/.rvm/scripts/rvm" # Load RVM function' >> ~/.bash_profile

3.2. Reload the shell.

source ~/.bash_profile

3.3. Test to see if installation was successful.

rvm list known

3.4. Install Ruby 1.9.2 (or 1.9.3)

rvm install 1.9.2

3.5. It’s probably a good to set 1.9.2 as default as well.

rvm use 1.9.2 --default

4. Install RubyGems if not already installed

Doing the following command in terminal and see if it returns version number.

gem -v

If it doesn’t return a version number, follow the steps below to install RubyGems.

4.1 Download the latest stable version from here (http://rubygems.org/pages/download)

4.2 Unzip and Install

tar xzvf rubygems-1.X.Y.tgz
cd rubygems-1.X.Y
sudo ruby setup.rb

5. Configure RVM gemset

Now, you have to actually make a choice whether you want to install the latest version 3.1 or the one before 3.0.x. If you just do gem install rails, it will install 3.1. I am sticking with 3.0.10 for a little longer, since that’s what I am used to. But, if you are starting new, you should just install 3.1. When you search for code examples online, make sure it’s for 3.1, since 3.1 is quite different from 3.0.x.
rvm gemset create rails31

Also set default gemset.

rvm use 1.9.2@rails31 --default

6. Install Rails

Depending on what you decided above,

gem install rails -v 3.1.0

7. Install Postgresql 8.x

I’ve used MySQL mostly before, but after Oracle’s purchase of MySQL and since I deploy most of my apps on Heroku, which only supports Postgresql, I have been using Postgresql for quite sometime. For typical Rails app, it shouldn’t matter whether you use MySQL or Postgresql. You need to be careful when you need to write raw SQL statement. Postgresql is known to be more strict with the syntax.

Latest Postgresql is 9.x, but I believe pg gem only supports up to 8.x. Better stick with safe version.  Follow the link below to download and install Postgresql 8.x. Remember the admin username and password.

http://www.enterprisedb.com/products-services-training/pgdownload

pg gem will be installed when you create a Rails app with

rails new [APP NAME] -d postgresql

and install gems with

bundle install

8. Configure Postgresql for Rails

The most you have to configure is to create a user and password for each app.

8.1 Login as admin (whatever admin username you picked when you installed the Postgresql)

psql -U admin

8.2 Create a username and password for your app.

create role [USERNAME] with createdb login password '[PASSWORD]';

You would use the username and password you just created in /config/database.yml file in your Rails app.

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My answer to text-dynamo

As an exercise to practice Ruby, you can try to compete a random text generator using an underlying Markov chain model. The codes in the following github account are incomplete. You are supposed to fill in or create methods that will create randomly generated texts given seed texts.

http://github.com/eandrejko/text-dynamo

Markov chain is like a state machine, but the key is the what causes state transition only depends on the current state. In this case, how do you determine probability of selecting which word next? It’s quite simple. You go through the seed text and count frequency of next words, and that determines the frequency. For example, “am” is likely to folllow “I” most frequently. Next might be “do” or other verbs.

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