Install Using Ruby Packaging

Using Ruby packaging entails making use of commands provided by Ruby (gem and bundle) to install gems. A gem is a packaged Ruby application or library, often retrieved from

The benefit of using Ruby packaging to install Asciidoctor is that it’s universal. Provided you have configured Ruby correctly, Ruby packaging works the same way across all Ruby runtimes and operating systems. This page explains how to use Ruby packaging to install Asciidoctor from the asciidoctor gem.

Unless you’re running in a container (Docker, podman, OCI), never install gems using gem install as the root user. Doing so will almost certainly interfere with, and possibly corrupt, the Ruby installation on your system. We strongly advise you to use Bundler to manage your gems within a project (or an RVM gemset to scope the install to your user/home directory). The gem install instructions are provided for when you’re running in a container or when your using RVM (ideally with a gemset).

Configure Ruby packaging

The best way to ensure Ruby is configured to use Ruby packaging is to install Ruby using a Ruby version manager. We recommend that you set up RVM and use it to install Ruby in your home directory (i.e., user space). Once that is done, you can safely use the gem or bundle commands to install or update the Asciidoctor gem, or any other gem for that matter. When using Ruby managed by RVM, gems are installed in a location isolated from the system (so you don’t need root/administrator access).

gem install

Once you’ve installed Ruby using RVM, and you have activated it using rvm use 3.3, open a terminal and type:

$ gem install asciidoctor

If the gem installed successfully, Asciidoctor’s command line interface (CLI) will be available on your PATH. To confirm that Asciidoctor is available, execute:

$ asciidoctor --version

You should see information about the Asciidoctor version and your Ruby environment printed in the terminal.

Asciidoctor 2.0.22 []
Runtime Environment (ruby 3.3.0 [x86_64-linux]) (lc:UTF-8 fs:UTF-8 in:- ex:UTF-8)

Install a prerelease version

To install a prerelease version of Asciidoctor (e.g., a release candidate), include the --pre option when running the gem install command:

$ gem install asciidoctor --pre

The --pre option will select the prerelease version of Asciidoctor instead of the latest stable version. Note that it’s possible that the prerelease version is older than the latest stable version if no recent prerelease version is available.


Bundler creates a virtual environment that scopes the installation of gems to the current project. Here’s how you can use it to install and run Asciidoctor.

  1. Create a Gemfile in the root folder of your project (or the current directory):

    $ bundle init
  2. Add the asciidoctor gem to the bottom of your Gemfile as follows:

    gem 'asciidoctor'
    # or specify the version explicitly
    # gem 'asciidoctor', '2.0.22'
  3. Save the Gemfile

  4. Open a terminal and install the gem using:

    $ bundle

To upgrade the gem, specify the new version in the Gemfile and run bundle again. Using bundle update (without specifying a gem) is not recommended as it will also update other gems, which may not be the desired result.

Once you install using Bundler, you must run any executables provided by the gems (e.g., asciidoctor) from the directory where Gemfile is located and also prefix the executable name with bundle exec (e.g., bundle exec asciidoctor). The bundle exec prefix tells Ruby to use the gems defined in the Gemfile.

If you want to understand more about Bundler and bundle exec and when to use them, see the article Understanding Bundler.

Upgrade using gem update

You’re advised against using the gem update command to update a gem managed by the package manager. Doing so puts the system into an inconsistent state as the package manager can no longer track the files (which get installed under /usr/local). Simply put, system gems should only be updated by the package manager.

If you want to use a version of Asciidoctor that is newer than what is installed by the package manager, you should use RVM to install Ruby in your home directory (i.e., user space). Then, you can safely use the gem command to install or update the Asciidoctor gem. When using RVM, gems are installed in a location isolated from the system.

You can upgrade Asciidoctor using the gem update command:

$ gem update asciidoctor

If you accidentally use gem install instead of gem update, then you’ll end up with both versions installed. To remove the older version, use the following gem command:

$ gem cleanup asciidoctor

Uninstall using gem uninstall

You can uninstall Asciidoctor using the gem uninstall command:

$ gem uninstall -x asciidoctor

The -x option silences the confirmation to remove the asciidoctor executable, instead removing it automatically. In other words, it enables a complete uninstall.

If you have multiple versions of Asciidoctor installed, you will be prompted to specify which version you want to uninstall.

Select gem to uninstall:
 1. asciidoctor-2.0.15
 2. asciidoctor-2.0.16
 3. All versions

You can uninstall a specific version, or all versions. Type one of the numbers at the prompt (>) and press Enter.