With Elixir 1.1.0-beta I made the switch from whatever version of Elixir was available in Homebrew, to bleeding edge compiled from source. It was surprisingly easy!
Get the Latest Source
Following the installation instructions:
In this case I want to clone directly from the elixir-lang repo, not from my fork. This is what I’ll use to execute most of my Elixir programs locally, so unless I’m specifically testing a change I’m making, I don’t want to use my own fork, where I may be swapping branches back and forth.
Change the Version Number
The convention seems to be to leave the version number alone after a release is tagged, which means that if there have been any commits since the release, and you simply build from the source on the master branch, you will build something different than already exists for that name. This can complicate bug reporting if you say you were using “1.1.0-beta” and yours isn’t the same as someone else’s.
Since I know the latest tagged release was 1.1.0-beta, let’s see where that appears in the source:
Based on this I need to change the version number in two places, the
VERSION file and the
It’s not a good idea to make changes directly on master of someone else’s repository, so I’m going to make a branch. I often use the date for the branch name if I’m not working on something specific.
Now review the changes. In particular MAKE SURE that your editor does not add a newline to the
VERSION file, or you may see failing tests in IEx.
If you are a
vim user you can avoid this by editing the file in binary mode:
vim -b VERSION.
Build From Source
And then build and test it:
If all the dots are green, carry on!
If that didn’t work… you may need to install Xcode so that the
make command will be available. See https://developer.apple.com/xcode/download/.
Next I modified my
~/.bash_profile so that the newly built
iex scripts would be first on my path:
It’s important to make sure that $ELIXIR_HOME appears in the PATH before
/usr/local/bin where Homebrew puts the things it is managing.
I used to always start a new terminal session to get bash profile changes to take effect, but eventually I learned about:
Updating and Re-Building
When you come back for your next Elixir programming session, here’s how to update to the lastest code on master.
NOTE: It’s probably a good idea to shut down anything that is using
iex. In my brief test, when the
elixir/bin directory was yanked out from under a running process, a Phoenix app started throwing errors, while iex seemed to survive.
It’s up to you whether to commit the version number change on the branch, or just revert it:
Either way, the branch is there to remind me what revision I was working with on a given day, in case things start going wrong.
If I needed to update again the same day, I would just add the time to the branch name so it is unique.
Switch back to Homebrew’ed Elixir
If something goes wrong, simply revert your changes to ~/.bash_profile, making sure that
/usr/local/bin is on your PATH.
Start a new terminal session and check
which elixir and
elixir -v to see what is in use.
Uninstall Homebrew’ed Elixir
I uninstalled the Homebrew version of Elixir I had been using because I’d rather be in control of all the bits. :)
Build From Source Distribution
If something goes wrong using the latest compiled version from master we may want to drop back to the most recent release to compare behavior.
Since I uninstalled Elixir 1.0.5 from homebrew, how do I get it back?
There are precompiled and source archives listed on the release page:
I’m going to download elixir-1.0.5.tar.gz into ~/Downloads folder and then expand and build it in my /Applications directory because that’s where I keep software that I use as-is.
Now I’ll add a line to ~/.bash_profile so that I can easily switch versions by un-commenting one or the other:
Recall that earlier we also added
ELIXIR_HOME to the
Note: This also works with the 1.1.0-beta source distribution, which you can download from https://github.com/elixir-lang/elixir/releases/tag/v1.1.0-beta
DIY Source Archive
If for some reason there isn’t a source distribution available for a given tag, you can make one with
git archive. Here’s an example using the v1.0.5 tag:
Make sure you’re in the same directory as the clone of elixir-lang/elixir from above:
This will create an uncompressed tar with the contents of the v1.0.5 tag, with a top-level directory of elixir-1.0.5.
Clone the v1.0.5 Tag
Alternately, here’s how to clone the v1.0.5 tag
directly from the repository. This will take up more space on disk because it has all the git metadata included, but is preferable if you ever need to make changes, so that
git diff will work.
Since I’m not going to make changes, being in a ‘detached HEAD’ state is fine.
Now build it. Remember to check the README file of the branch/tag you are working with. In this case the instructions are the same.
In this case it’s not necessary to change the version number, because this is the official tagged source for the 1.0.5 version.
Now I can edit ~/.bash_profile to switch the location of ELIXIR_HOME and control which version is used.
Remember to start a new terminal session or execute
source ~/.bash_profile to reload changes.
We’ve seen how to build multiple versions of Elixir from source and how to switch between them. This will allow us to
- test out beta versions,
- reproduce bugs that people report on specific versions, and
- check whether bug are still there on master.