I use Windows on my everyday work. First thing I do after installing Windows is to set up complete environment for Ruby. In “ancient” days (measuring in computer years, of course) I have used One Click Installer. Later, RubyInstaller came on the scene.
With much better foundations, RubyInstaller simplified Ruby usage and made it look like on Linux, Ruby’s native platform. Key benefit of RubyInstaller over One Click installer was possibility to install Ruby native gems written in C. Switching from commercial VisualStudio, used in One Click Installer, to MinGW build tool-chain in RubyInstaller was crucial decision made by Luis Lavena, great author of RubyInstaller.
After RubyInstaller, one more project appeared with the goal to simplify Ruby on Rails installation and usage on Windows. RailsInstaller. I haven’t tried it, but I’m sure it will help increasing number of Rails users on Windows.
But do you really need installer for Ruby on Rails on Windows? It depends of your attitude. If you are not interested what is going on behind the scenes and just want to be able to start using Rails after few mouse clicks RailsInstaller is definitely for you.
If, on the other hand, you want to know how things work, you should try to install Ruby on Rails without installer. With RubyInstaller installing Ruby on Rails on Windows is, actually, just a matter of issuing
Of course you might face problems building and installing some gems, primarily because gem authors don’t want to bother with Windows support or simply because gems rely of third party libraries that are not ported to Windows. In any case you can ask for help on RubyInstaller mailing list.
People wonder if Ruby and Ruby on Rails are really usable on Windows. My opinion is that they are. Of course, there are some problems mainly with speed, but I would dare to say that solutions are on the way and hopefully very soon this will not be problem any more. I guess main reason why they are not so widespread on Windows platforms is scepticism and lack of experience.
As one of contributors to RubyInstaller project I noticed same questions are repeated on RubyInstaller mailing list. Mainly because of lack of familiarity with Ruby and RoR on Windows. That’s why I decided to write a book where I tried to give deeper insight on all details about installing and using Ruby and Ruby on Rails on Windows. The Ruby on Windows Guides is still in beta. However it already covers the most important issues and I think all novices and advanced developers can learn something new from it. Work on the book is still in progress so if you have any suggestions, ideas and wishes you can send them as an issue on the GitHub.
If you want to get deeper understanding of Ruby and Ruby on Rails on Windows, find out how to build native gems in several ways or just want to get an idea for what you can use Ruby on Windows go ahead and read the book. Of course I expect your comments, here or on GitHub.