module Kernel

RubyGems adds the gem method to allow activation of specific gem versions and overrides the require method on Kernel to make gems appear as if they live on the $LOAD_PATH. See the documentation of these methods for further detail.

Public Instance Methods


The Kernel#require from before RubyGems was loaded.

Alias for: require

Private Instance Methods

gem(gem_name, *requirements) click to toggle source

Use #gem to activate a specific version of gem_name.

requirements is a list of version requirements that the specified gem must match, most commonly “= example.version.number”. See Gem::Requirement for how to specify a version requirement.

If you will be activating the latest version of a gem, there is no need to call #gem, Kernel#require will do the right thing for you.

#gem returns true if the gem was activated, otherwise false. If the gem could not be found, didn't match the version requirements, or a different version was already activated, an exception will be raised.

#gem should be called before any require statements (otherwise RubyGems may load a conflicting library version).

#gem only loads prerelease versions when prerelease requirements are given:

gem 'rake', '>= 1.1.a', '< 2'

In older RubyGems versions, the environment variable GEM_SKIP could be used to skip activation of specified gems, for example to test out changes that haven't been installed yet. Now RubyGems defers to -I and the RUBYLIB environment variable to skip activation of a gem.


GEM_SKIP=libA:libB ruby -I../libA -I../libB ./mycode.rb
# File lib/rubygems/core_ext/kernel_gem.rb, line 43
def gem(gem_name, *requirements) # :doc:
  skip_list = (ENV['GEM_SKIP'] || "").split(/:/)
  raise Gem::LoadError, "skipping #{gem_name}" if skip_list.include? gem_name

  if gem_name.kind_of? Gem::Dependency
    unless Gem::Deprecate.skip
      warn "#{Gem.location_of_caller.join ':'}:Warning: Kernel.gem no longer "           "accepts a Gem::Dependency object, please pass the name "           "and requirements directly"

    requirements = gem_name.requirement
    gem_name =

  dep =, *requirements)

  loaded = Gem.loaded_specs[gem_name]

  return false if loaded && dep.matches_spec?(loaded)

  spec = dep.to_spec

  Gem::LOADED_SPECS_MUTEX.synchronize {
  } if spec