[Rd] RFC install.packages() changes

Prof Brian Ripley ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
Sun Nov 7 19:22:47 CET 2004

install/update.packages() in R-devel has been enhanced in a few ways,
notably to handle multiple repositories, and to allow packages to be 
reinstalled under the current version of R.

1) Currently they will ask if you want to delete the downloaded files (if 
any) *provided* destdir was not specified.  In that case it uses a 
subdirectory of the per-session temporary directory, so the files will be 
deleted at the end of the R session anyway.

We had a request to make the questioning optional.  I propose to remove it 
altogether, and either

a) delete the downloaded files at the end of install.packages or
b) leave them in the per-session directory to be deleted at the end of the 

that is to force answer 'y' or 'n' respectively.  Does anyone see any 
problems with a)?

2) ?packageStatus says

     Summarize information about installed packages and packages
     available at various repositories, and automatically upgrade
     outdated packages. These tools will replace 'update.packages' and
     friends in the future and are currently work in progress.

but `progress' seems to have been at a halt for a long time.  The one
feature I use it for is finding non-installed packages, and we could
easily add a function non_installed.packages() and an option to
install.packages() to add (selectively) uninstalled packages (and a stop
list might be useful, so you do not get repeatedly asked about packages
which fail).

Do people use it, and if so for what purposes and what improvements would 
they like?  (I am thinking of, e.g, ways to extract parts of the output.)

Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
Professor of Applied Statistics,  http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272866 (PA)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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