[Rd] Specifying (set of random) port numbers for the help HTML server (Was: Re: Fixing html help port in 2.10)

Henrik Bengtsson hb at stat.berkeley.edu
Sat Oct 17 06:08:29 CEST 2009

On Fri, Oct 16, 2009 at 7:54 AM, Duncan Murdoch <murdoch at stats.uwo.ca> wrote:
> On 10/16/2009 10:39 AM, Dieter Menne wrote:
>> I noted that the new html-help in 2.10 under Windows uses a random port on
>> my
>> computer.
>> This cause a problem, because when I create a link such as:
>> this is for one-time use only. Is it possible to fix the port?
> Not currently.  If you look in tools:::startDynamicHelp you can see how it
> is set up; you could duplicate that setup as a temporary workaround.  You
> might be better off to build R with static help instead.  What is the
> application where you want to be able to give out links?  Perhaps we could
> consult an environment variable or option() to choose the port instead of
> leaving it completely random.
> The reason it is random is the worry that multiple R instances on the same
> machine might collide.  All processes on the machine see the same ports.

I'd like to suggest an option/environment variable that specifies the
set of port numbers sampled from, e.g. 6800:6850 or similar.

The reason is that in some places, the user don't have admin
privileges on the computer and most/all ports are blocked from running
servers, and there is a sysadm that needs to approve each port to be
unblocked.  With such a security polices it is possible to have the
smaller set of port number unblocked (but not the full 0-65535 range).
 This applies at least to "regular users" on Windows.

My $.02


> Duncan Murdoch
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