Having done projects in Ruby and in Perl as well, maybe I can contribute a few personal impressions:
In both languages one can see the intent of the authors to make it practical to use. Larry and Matz both seem to prefer writing short, concise code over long winded ones (as you maybe would end up when using Java).
In both languages you find obscure and dark corners, but the ugly parts of Ruby are very different from the ugly parts of Perl. This comes to no surprise, as Matz, when inventing Ruby, had a deep Perl background and tried specifically to avoid the weaknesses of Perl.
Also, as always, what is ugly for me might be great for others. I dislike the Ruby feature to make it easy to define aliases for functions (where you can call the very same function by a variety of names), but others find it handy.
When it comes to writing programs (as opposed to reading them) I found both Perl and Ruby easy to learn. You come quickly to a point where you can produce useful code. In this respect, I find Ruby a bit easier, but this too is just my personal impression.
And, if you came (like me) from Perl to Ruby, you will feel familiar with many standard modules (Net::FTP etc.), because their design is patterned after their Perl equivalent.
I enjoy working with various languages. When I do shell scripting, I like to use both bash and zsh. When I do serious programming, I like to do both Perl and Ruby. I would be interested in doing somethin in Python, or Haskell, too. If you are like me in this respect, it might be worth giving Ruby a try...
Ronald Fischer <email@example.com>