including ESS and R packages in the SuSE Linux distribution

Faheem Mitha faheem at
Mon May 29 18:04:21 CEST 2000

Dear R and ESS people,

On a better late than never note...

Some weeks ago I circulated a message asking if people would be interested
in asking SuSE Linux to include R and ESS in their Linux distribution.
Shortly afterwards, I discovered that R-base would be included in SuSE
6.4. However, it is not clear whether SuSE would be supporting all the
contributed packages as well (probably not). So I decided to change my
letter to ask SuSE to include ESS and the R contrib packages in their
distribution as well.

The letter I propose to send follows below. The signatories listed are all
people who expressed a willingness to have their name attached to such a
letter. I am sending this message out again to the R-help and ESS mailing
lists, as well as the signatories. If you would like your name added to
the letter, please let me know. 

If you are one of the signatories and would like modifications in the
letter, make changes and send them to me. If (heaven forbid) you want your
name removed, let me know. In particular, you may want to modify what
appears after your name. I have used the information I have available,
which in most cases is just address and email. If you have some impressive
titles you might want to add them.

I will circulate modifications to the signatories one more time before
sending it to SuSE.

By the way, the appropriate email address to send this seems to be
feedback at Does anyone have any other ideas?

                                     Sincerely, Faheem Mitha.


Dear SuSE Team, 

We are writing to you about the high -quality, free statistical analysis
package R, and the associated package ESS (Emacs Speaks Statistics).

We greatly appreciate the fact that SuSE has recently added (as of version
6.4) R-base to the excellent and comprehensive SuSE distribution. In light
of this, perhaps you would consider:

a) Including ESS in your distribution. ESS is a natural companion to R on
any Unix platform, since it provides an enhanced Emacs mode which is a
nice interface between Emacs and a number of other statistical packages,
including R and Splus.

(NOTE: this phrasing could be improved. Would some expert care to rephrase

b) Including the numerous R contributed packages which are not part of
R-base in your distribution. These contributed packages are an integral
part of R. Note that R-base, ESS and all the R- contrib packages together
occupy no more diskspace than other free, high-quality, scientific
packages already present in your distribution such as Octave or Scilab.

The benefits of a) and b) would be two-fold.

On the one hand, it would be a tremendous convenience to people (like
ourselves) who are already using SuSE Linux and R.

On the other hand, it would benefit SuSE Linux, since it would increase
the probability that statisticians and others wanting to use R would
choose SuSE Linux as their distribution. SuSE already has the edge over
most other distributions in terms of inclusion of scientific software.

Albrecht Gebhardt has been kind enough to give of his time in making SuSE
rpms for R and ESS. However, he cannot be expected to do so indefinitely.  
The rpms are available on CRAN (Comprehensive R Archive Network) at, for
example, . You could use
these to assist you in integrating R and ESS into the SuSE distribution.

          Ramon Diaz-Uriarte, Dept. Zoology and Statistics
          University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706
          email: rdiazuri at

          Albrecht Gebhardt, Institut fuer Mathematik, 
          Universitaet Klagenfurt, Villacher Str. 161, A-9020
          Klagenfurt, Austria. 
          email: albrecht.gebhardt at 

          Christian W. Hoffmann, Mathematics and Statistical Computing
          Landscape Modeling and Web Applications,            
          Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, 
          CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
          e-mail: Hoffmann at WSL.CH

          Rich Heiberger, ESS maintainer,
          email: rmh at

          Martin Maechler, member of R core and "ESS core"
          Seminar fuer Statistik, ETH-Zentrum  LEO D10 Leonhardstr. 27, 
          ETH (Federal Inst. Technology)  8092, Zurich SWITZERLAND
          email: maechler at

          Frank  Ritter, School of Information Sciences and Technology
          former developer of s-mode for Emacs (1990-1992?)  
          assoc. prof. of Information Sciences and Technology
          assoc. prof of psychology, assoc. prof. of computer scienc
          The Pennsylvania State University, 
          University Park, PA 16801-3857
          email: ritter at
          Faheem Mitha, Dept. of Statistics,
          University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,                    
          Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3260 
          email: faheem at

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