This documents versions 2 and up, for which the require file was renamed to mini_portile2. For mini_portile versions 0.6.x and previous, please visit the v0.6.x branch.

Continuous Integration Tidelift dependencies

This project is a minimalistic implementation of a port/recipe system for developers.

Because "Works on my machine" is unacceptable for a library maintainer.

Not Another Package Management System

mini_portile2 is not a general package management system. It is not aimed to replace apt, macports or homebrew.

It's intended primarily to make sure that you, as the developer of a library, can reproduce a user's dependencies and environment by specifying a specific version of an underlying dependency that you'd like to use.

So, if a user says, "This bug happens on my system that uses libiconv 1.13.1", mini_portile2 should make it easy for you to download, compile and link against libiconv 1.13.1; and run your test suite against it.

This scenario might be simplified with something like this:

rake compile LIBICONV_VERSION=1.13.1

(For your homework, you can make libiconv version be taken from the appropriate ENV variables.)

Sounds easy, but where's the catch?

At this time mini_portile2 only supports autoconf- or configure-based projects. (That is, it assumes the library you want to build contains a configure script, which all the autoconf-based libraries do.)

As of v2.2.0, there is experimental support for CMake-based projects. We welcome your feedback on this, particularly for Windows platforms.

How to use (for autoconf projects)

Now that you know the catch, and you're still reading this, here is a quick example:

gem "mini_portile2", "~> 2.0.0" # NECESSARY if used in extconf.rb. see below.
require "mini_portile2"
recipe ="libiconv", "1.13.1")
recipe.files = [""]

The gem version constraint makes sure that your extconf.rb is protected against possible backwards-incompatible changes to mini_portile2. This constraint is REQUIRED if you're using mini_portile2 within a gem installation process (e.g., extconf.rb), because Bundler doesn't enforce gem version constraints at install-time (only at run-time.

#cook will download, extract, patch, configure and compile the library into a namespaced structure.

#activate ensures GCC will find this library and prefer it over a system-wide installation.

Some keyword arguments can be passed to the constructor to configure the commands used:

cc_command and cxx_command

The C compiler command that is used is configurable, and in order of preference will use:

  • the CC environment variable (if present)
  • the :cc_command keyword argument passed in to the constructor
  • RbConfig::CONFIG["CC"]
  • "gcc"

The C++ compiler is similarly configuratble, and in order of preference will use:

  • the CXX environment variable (if present)
  • the :cxx_command keyword argument passed in to the constructor
  • RbConfig::CONFIG["CXX"]
  • "g++"

You can pass your compiler commands to the MiniPortile constructor:"libiconv", "1.13.1", cc_command: "clang", cxx_command: "clang++")

(For backwards compatibility, the constructor also supports a keyword argument :gcc_command for the C compiler.)


The configuration/make command that is used is configurable, and in order of preference will use:

  • the MAKE environment variable (if present)
  • the make_command value passed in to the constructor
  • the make environment variable (if present)
  • "make"

You can pass it in like so:"libiconv", "1.13.1", make_command: "nmake")

open_timeout, read_timeout

By default, when downloading source archives, MiniPortile will use a timeout value of 10 seconds. This can be overridden by passing a different value (in seconds):"libiconv", "1.13.1", open_timeout: 99, read_timeout: 2)

How to use (for cmake projects)

Same as above, but instead of, call


This is configurable as above, except for Windows systems where it's hardcoded to "nmake".


The cmake command used is configurable, and in order of preference will use:

  • the CMAKE environment variable (if present)
  • the :cmake_command keyword argument passed into the constructor
  • "cmake" (the default)

You can pass it in like so:"libfoobar", "1.3.5", cmake_command: "cmake3")


The cmake build type is configurable as of v2.8.5, and in order of preference will use:

  • the CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE environment variable (if present)
  • the :cmake_build_type keyword argument passed into the constructor
  • "Release" (the default)

You can pass it in like so:"libfoobar", "1.3.5", cmake_build_type: "Debug")

Local source directories

Instead of downloading a remote file, you can also point mini_portile2 at a local source directory. In particular, this may be useful for testing or debugging:

gem "mini_portile2", "~> 2.0.0" # NECESSARY if used in extconf.rb. see below.
require "mini_portile2"
recipe ="libiconv", "1.13.1")
recipe.source_directory = "/path/to/local/source/for/library-1.2.3"

Directory Structure Conventions

mini_portile2 follows the principle of convention over configuration and established a folder structure where is going to place files and perform work.

Take the above example, and let's draw some picture:

  |-- ports
  |   |-- archives
  |   |   `-- libiconv-1.13.1.tar.gz
  |   `-- <platform>
  |       `-- libiconv
  |           `-- 1.13.1
  |               |-- bin
  |               |-- include
  |               `-- lib
  `-- tmp
      `-- <platform>
          `-- ports

In above structure, <platform> refers to the architecture that represents the operating system you're using (e.g. i686-linux, i386-mingw32, etc).

Inside the platform folder, mini_portile2 will store the artifacts that result from the compilation process. The library is versioned so you can keep multiple versions around on disk without clobbering anything.

archives is where downloaded source files are cached. It is recommended you avoid trashing that folder to avoid downloading the same file multiple times (save bandwidth, save the world).

tmp is where compilation is performed and can be safely discarded.

Use the recipe's #path to obtain the full path to the installation directory:

recipe.path # => /home/luis/projects/myapp/ports/i686-linux/libiconv/1.13.1

How can I combine this with my compilation task?

In the simplest case, your rake compile task will depend on mini_portile2 compilation and most important, activation.


task :libiconv do
  recipe ="libiconv", "1.13.1")
  recipe.files << {
    url: ""],
    sha256: "55a36168306089009d054ccdd9d013041bfc3ab26be7033d107821f1c4949a49"
  checkpoint = ".#{}-#{recipe.version}.installed"

  unless File.exist?(checkpoint)
    touch checkpoint


task :compile => [:libiconv] do
  # ... your library's compilation task ...

The above example will:

  • download and verify integrity the sources only once
  • compile the library only once (using a timestamp file)
  • ensure compiled library is activated
  • make the compile task depend upon compiled library activation

As an exercise for the reader, you could specify the libiconv version in an environment variable or a configuration file.

Download verification

MiniPortile supports HTTPS, HTTP, FTP and FILE sources for download. The integrity of the downloaded file can be verified per hash value or PGP signature. This is particular important for untrusted sources (non-HTTPS).

Hash digest verification

MiniPortile can verify the integrity of the downloaded file per SHA256, SHA1 or MD5 hash digest.

  recipe.files << {
    url: "",
    sha256: "<32 byte hex value>",

PGP signature verification

MiniPortile can also verify the integrity of the downloaded file per PGP signature.

  public_key = <<-EOT
    Version: GnuPG v1


  recipe.files << {
    url: "",
    gpg: {
      key: public_key,
      signature_url: ""

Please note, that the gpg executable is required to verify the signature. It is therefore recommended to use the hash verification method instead of PGP, when used in extconf.rb while gem install.

Native and/or Cross Compilation

The above example covers the normal use case: compiling dependencies natively.

MiniPortile also covers another use case, which is the cross-compilation of the dependencies to be used as part of a binary gem compilation.

It is the perfect complementary tool for rake-compiler and its cross rake task.

Depending on your usage of rake-compiler, you will need to use host to match the installed cross-compiler toolchain.

Please refer to the examples directory for simplified and practical usage.

Supported Scenarios

As mentioned before, MiniPortile requires a GCC compiler toolchain. This has been tested against Ubuntu, OSX and even Windows (RubyInstaller with DevKit)


The bug tracker is available here:

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See for vulnerability reporting details.


This library is licensed under MIT license. Please see LICENSE.txt for details.