Can't find the 'libpq-fe.h header when trying to install pg gem


I am using the Ruby on Rails 3.1 pre version. I like to use PostgreSQL, but the problem is installing the pg gem. It gives me the following error:

$ gem install pg
Building native extensions.  This could take a while...
ERROR:  Error installing pg:
    ERROR: Failed to build gem native extension.

        /home/u/.rvm/rubies/ruby-1.9.2-p0/bin/ruby extconf.rb
checking for pg_config... no
No pg_config... trying anyway. If building fails, please try again with
checking for libpq-fe.h... no
Can't find the 'libpq-fe.h header
*** extconf.rb failed ***
Could not create Makefile due to some reason, probably lack of
necessary libraries and/or headers.  Check the mkmf.log file for more
details.  You may need configuration options.

Provided configuration options:

Gem files will remain installed in /home/u/.rvm/gems/ruby-1.9.2-p0/gems/pg-0.11.0 for inspection.
Results logged to /home/u/.rvm/gems/ruby-1.9.2-p0/gems/pg-0.11.0/ext/gem_make.out

How do I solve this problem?

3/23/2018 10:47:09 AM

Accepted Answer

It looks like in Ubuntu that header is part of the libpq-dev package (at least in the following Ubuntu versions: 11.04 (Natty Narwhal), 10.04 (Lucid Lynx), 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot), 12.04 (Precise Pangolin), 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) and 18.04 (Bionic Beaver)):


So try installing libpq-dev or its equivalent for your OS:

  • For Ubuntu/Debian systems: sudo apt-get install libpq-dev
  • On Red Hat Linux (RHEL) systems: yum install postgresql-devel
  • For Mac Homebrew: brew install postgresql
  • For Mac MacPorts PostgreSQL: gem install pg -- --with-pg-config=/opt/local/lib/postgresql[version number]/bin/pg_config
  • For OpenSuse: zypper in postgresql-devel
  • For ArchLinux: pacman -S postgresql-libs
1/2/2019 1:00:48 AM

On macOS (previously Mac OS X and OS X), use Homebrew to install the proper headers:

brew install postgresql

and then running

gem install pg

should work.

Alternatively, instead of installing the whole postgresql, you can brew install libpq and export the correct PATH and PKG_CONFIG_PATH as explained in the 'Caveats' section


I had also tried doing gem install libpq-dev, but I received this error:

Can't find the 'libpq-fe.h header
*** extconf.rb failed ***

However I found that installing with sudo apt-get (which I try to avoid using with Ruby on Rails) worked, i.e.

sudo apt-get install libpq-dev
# or
apt-get install postgres-server-dev-{pg.version}
# for postgresql 9.4 on Ubuntu 14.04

then I was able to do

gem install pg

without issues.


I could solve this in another way. I didn't find the library on my system. Thus I installed it using an app from PostgreSQL main website. In my case (OS X) I found the file under /Library/PostgreSQL/9.1/include/ once the installation was over. You may also have the file somewhere else depending on your system if you already have PostgreSQL installed.

Thanks to this link on how to add an additional path for gem installation, I could point the gem to the lib with this command:

export CONFIGURE_ARGS="with-pg-include=/Library/PostgreSQL/9.1/include/"
gem install pg

After that, it works, because it now knows where to find the missing library. Just replace the path with the right location for your libpq-fe.h


Can't find the libpq-fe.h header

i had success on CentOS 7.0.1406 running the following commands:

~ % psql --version # => psql (PostgreSQL) 9.4.1
yum install libpqxx-devel
gem install pg -- --with-pg-config=/usr/pgsql-9.4/bin/pg_config

Alternatively, you can configure bundler to always install pg with these options (helpful for running bundler in deploy environments),

  • bundle config --with-pg-config=/usr/pgsql-9.4/bin/pg_config

For CentOS 6.4,

yum install postgresql-devel
gem install pg

worked well!


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