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Installing Rails gem fails with “undefined method `spec’ for nil:NilClass” error

Today, while installing Rails 3, my computer suffered a power outage. This does not happen very often, in fact, this was actually due to the computer overheating! After pouring cold water over the keyboard, I restarted the computer and continuing the Rails 3 installation the process, but to my shock and horror, it failed with this message:

ERROR:  While executing gem ... (NoMethodError)
undefined method `spec' for nil:NilClass

I’ll be honest with you, I was kind of expecting problems to happen since the computer did abruptly shut off during an installation process – but now what do I do!? Well, after a little Googling, the problem was solved. I found out that it’s due to the gem install cache folder which (due to the power interruption) now contained corrupted / empty gem files. My solution was to clear this cache and run the install again, as follows:

  1. Find out the location of your cache using: gem env
  2. List all the gems in that cache, using, for example: ls -l /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/cache/
  3. Compare with successfully installed gems using gem list
  4. Remove the gems from the cache list that are missing from the gem list using the rm command
  5. Continue the installation, for example. sudo gem install -v=3.0.6 rails --no-rdoc --no-ri

So now if you have a power outage or any other external failure during a gem installation process you don’t need to panic. Just clear the cache and continue where you left off before you were rudely interrupted!