>I don't understand this.  I rewrote a /bin/sh script in
>ruby and the sh script runs much faster.  I ran the script on 
>both Linux and Solaris.  The script removes a symlink and 
>replaces it with a copy of the linked to file.  

Just a thought, but could it be that the shell script is being
interpreted/executed by your current shell and hence there's next to
zero startup time, whereas running the Ruby one requires the
interpreter to start up.

For example, have you tried running it in irb, as opposed to usng
"#!/.../ruby" or "ruby fred.rb"?