[Rd] R CMD INSTALL customization; followup on Dirk's question

Paul Johnson pauljohn32 at gmail.com
Sun Feb 14 21:23:27 CET 2010

Last year, Dirk E was asking about customizing options to for packages
when using R CMD INSTALL


Has there been more on that question lately?

I also wonder what this means in the "Building Packages" section of
the R-Extensions manual:

"R CMD build can also build pre-compiled version of packages for
binary distributions, but R CMD INSTALL --build is preferred (and is
considerably more flexible). "

For an RPM-based Linux system, what are the possibilities for "binary
packages" in that sentence?

Here's why I ask.

I have to install R packages on each system in a cluster.  I would
like to build RPM packages for R packages and drop them into the
automatic updating system.  For some R packages, there are existing
RPM packages in the Fedora repos, but the list is not exhaustive.  I
do not want to spend my life fiddling R spec files package-by-package,
I just want to try to run the R CMD INSTALL lots of times, and if a
package builds then package them up.  Most packages do work without
customization, after all.  If a package fails, I can always look into
it later and customize the build for it, but I don't want to take the
"boutique" approach implicit in existing packaging efforts for RPMs
(such as R2spec).  I admire what Dirk did with cran2deb and if I had a
research assistant, I'd imitate that approach to make automatic RPMS
for all R packages and customize steps for packages that fail.

Did you ever use "checkinstall"?  It is a way to 'cheat' while making
RPM packages.  If you ordinarily do "configure" "make" "make install",
checkinstall It is used in place of "make install".  It can just
create the binary package from the installed files, without requiring
a lot of fiddling about.  Sure, its cheating, but even Captain Kirk
cheated when he needed to pass the Starfleet exam :).  Checkinstall
can take command line options for all the usual details that would go
into a spec file.

So, could I figure a way to embed "checkinstall" into the middle of
the process that goes on in R CMD INSTALL ??

Paul E. Johnson
Professor, Political Science
1541 Lilac Lane, Room 504
University of Kansas

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