After having discovered RVM and realizing how much easier it makes your life (application specific gemsets are pure genuis), I couldn’t get it to work on the my desktop while it was fine on the laptop.

gem kept looking in /var/lib/gems/1.8 and it turns out there is quite a few places where GEM_PATH and GEM_HOME are being (or can be) set on your Linux box:

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  /etc/environment
  /etc/security/pam_env.conf
  $HOME/.gemrc
  $HOME/.bashrc
  $HOME/.profile

In my case it was the first 3 and after removing GEM_(PATH|HOME) assignments from those files, RVM started working.