Maintenance of Ruby 2.0.0 ended on February 24, 2016. Read more

Rake Command Line Usage

Rake is invoked from the command line using:

% rake [options ...]  [VAR=VALUE ...]  [targets ...]

Options are:


Set the environment variable name to value during the execution of the rake command. You can access the value by using ENV.

--all (-A)

Used in combination with the -T and -D options, will force those options to show all the tasks, even the ones without comments.

--backtrace{=output} (-n)

Enable a full backtrace (i.e. like –trace, but without the task tracing details). The output parameter is optional, but if specified it controls where the backtrace output is sent. If output is stdout, then backtrace output is directed to stardard output. If output is stderr, or if it is missing, then the backtrace output is sent to standard error.

--classic-namespace (-n)

Import the Task, FileTask, and FileCreateTask into the top-level scope to be compatible with older versions of Rake. Alternatively you can include the line require 'rake/classic_namespace' in your Rakefile to get the classic behavior.


Used in combination with the -W options to force the output to contain commented options only. This is the reverse of --all.

--describe pattern (-D)

Describe the tasks (matching optional PATTERN), then exit.

--dry-run (-n)

Do a dry run. Print the tasks invoked and executed, but do not actually execute any of the actions.

--execute code (-e)

Execute some Ruby code and exit.

--execute-print code (-p)

Execute some Ruby code, print the result, and exit.

--execute-continue code (-E)

Execute some Ruby code, then continue with normal task processing.

--help (-H)

Display some help text and exit.

--jobs number (-j)

Specifies the number of active concurrent tasks used. The suggested value is equal to the number of CPUs. The concurrent tasks are used to execute the multitask prerequisites. Also see the -m option which turns all tasks into multitasks.

Sample values:

(no -j) : unlimited concurrent tasks (standard rake behavior)
-j      : 2 concurrent tasks (exact number may change)
-j 16   : 16 concurrent tasks
--job-stats level

Display job statistics at the completion of the run. By default, this will display the requested number of active tasks (from the -j options) and the maximum number of tasks in play at any given time.

If the optional level is history, then a complete trace of task history will be displayed on standard output.

--libdir directory (-I)

Add directory to the list of directories searched for require.

--multitask (-m)

Treat all tasks as multitasks. ('make/drake' semantics)

--nosearch (-N)

Do not search for a Rakefile in parent directories.

--prereqs (-P)

Display a list of all tasks and their immediate prerequisites.

--quiet (-q)

Do not echo commands from FileUtils.

--rakefile filename (-f)

Use filename as the name of the rakefile. The default rakefile names are rakefile and Rakefile (with rakefile taking precedence). If the rakefile is not found in the current directory, rake will search parent directories for a match. The directory where the Rakefile is found will become the current directory for the actions executed in the Rakefile.

--rakelibdir rakelibdir (-R)

Auto-import any .rake files in RAKELIBDIR. (default is 'rakelib')


Remove the DSL commands from the Object inheritance hierarchy and do not define top level constants. This reduces the backwards compatibility of Rake, but allows rake to be used with software that would otherwise have conflicting definitions.

NOTE: The next major version of Rake will only be able to be run in “reduce-compat” mode.

--require name (-r)

Require name before executing the Rakefile.


Trace the rules resolution.

--silent (-s)

Like –quiet, but also suppresses the 'in directory' announcement.

--suppress-backtrace pattern

Line matching the regular expression pattern will be removed from the backtrace output. Note that the –backtrace option is the full backtrace without these lines suppressed.

--system (-g)

Use the system wide (global) rakefiles. The project Rakefile is ignored. By default, the system wide rakefiles are used only if no project Rakefile is found. On Unix-like system, the system wide rake files are located in $HOME/.rake. On a windows system they are stored in $APPDATA/Rake.

--no-system (-G)

Use the project level Rakefile, ignoring the system-wide (global) rakefiles.

--tasks pattern (-T)

Display a list of the major tasks and their comments. Comments are defined using the “desc” command. If a pattern is given, then only tasks matching the pattern are displayed.

--trace{=output} (-t)

Turn on invoke/execute tracing. Also enable full backtrace on errors. The output parameter is optional, but if specified it controls where the trace output is sent. If output is stdout, then trace output is directed to stardard output. If output is stderr, or if it is missing, then trace output is sent to standard error.

--verbose (-v)

Echo the Sys commands to standard output.

--version (-V)

Display the program version and exit.

--where pattern (-W)

Display tasks that match pattern and the file and line number where the task is defined. By default this option will display all tasks, not just the tasks that have descriptions.

--no-deprecation-warnings (-W)

Do not display the deprecation warnings.

In addition, any command line option of the form VAR=VALUE will be added to the environment hash ENV and may be tested in the Rakefile.