[Rd] Wishlist: write R's bin path to the PATH variable and remove the version string in the installation dir under Windows

Duncan Murdoch murdoch.duncan at gmail.com
Wed May 4 14:11:39 CEST 2011

On 11-05-03 11:25 PM, Yihui Xie wrote:
> 1. "Few Windows users use these commands" does not imply they are not
> useful, and I have no idea how many Windows users really use them. How
> do you run "R CMD build" when you build R packages under Windows? You
> don't write "C:/Program Files/R/R-2.13.0/bin/i386/R.exe CMD build", do
> you?

I have unusual needs, because I use 2 or 3 different versions of R every 
day.  But if you're interested, the way I do it is to set up shell 
commands that reset the PATH appropriate to the version of R I want to 

A more usual user who always wants to use just one version from the 
command line could modify the PATH appropriately.  I don't object to 
that, I just object to having R do it to unsuspecting users, because as 
Simon said, messing with the PATH can cause problems, and it's difficult 
for the R installer to know if messing with yours will cause trouble for 

In another message you asked about using Sweave.  I almost never use 
Sweave() in R or "R CMD Sweave" at the command line; I have an 
appropriate command configured into my editors, and I run it from there. 
  The PATH does not need to be involved.

> I think the reason we have to mess with the PATH variable for each
> single software package is that Windows is Not Unix, so you may hate
> Windows instead of a package that modifies your PATH variable.
> For the choice of i386 and x64, you can let the user decide which bin
> path to use. I believe the number of users who frequently switch back
> and forth is fairly small.

I already pointed out why that is inappropriate for a lot of users.

Duncan Murdoch

> 2. Under most circumstances I just keep the latest version of R. To
> maintain R code with old R versions will be more and more difficult
> with new features and changes coming in. Disk space is cheap, but time
> is not.
> I'm talking about the default installation directory here and I'm only
> wishing that the version string could be removed by default.
> Anyway, I think I will go to the batch files approach if these
> suggestions are going to be turned down. I just don't want to tell
> other people to run Rscript.bat under Windows and Rscript under *nix.
> I hope they can be consistent.
> Regards,
> Yihui
> --
> Yihui Xie<xieyihui at gmail.com>
> Phone: 515-294-2465 Web: http://yihui.name
> Department of Statistics, Iowa State University
> 2215 Snedecor Hall, Ames, IA
> On Tue, May 3, 2011 at 8:14 PM, Duncan Murdoch<murdoch.duncan at gmail.com>  wrote:
>> On 03/05/2011 7:44 PM, Yihui Xie wrote:
>>> Hi,
>>> I guess this issue must have been brought forward long time ago, but I
>>> still hope you can consider under Windows (during installation):
>>> 1. put R's bin path in the PATH variable of the system so that we can
>>> use the commands "R" and "Rscript" more easily;
>> Few Windows users use those commands.  The ones who do are generally exactly
>> the ones who know how to edit the PATH variable themselves.
>> For most users (the ones who start R from the shortcut), there's no need to
>> mess with the PATH variable.  Personally, I hate programs that do that.  And
>> with R, it's now complicated, because there are 2 different directories
>> holding executables:  bin/i386 and bin/x64.  (The bin directory also holds
>> some, but that's just for back  compatibility.)
>> How could the installer know which of those to put in the PATH?  At
>> installation time, a user isn't going to know which one he/she needs.
>>> 2. remove the version string like R-2.13.0 in the default installation
>>> directory, e.g. only use a directory like C:/Program Files/R/ instead
>>> of C:/Program Files/R/R-2.13.0/; I know many people just follow the
>>> default setting when installing R, and this version string will often
>>> lead to many (unnecessary) copies of R in the system and brings
>>> difficulty to the first issue (several possible bin directories);
>> Multiple installs give you the possibility of reproducing things that don't
>> work in the latest R version.  I think it's a good practice to keep multiple
>> installs on your system if you have the space, and since disk space is cheap
>> these days, that's not so uncommon.
>> Duncan Murdoch
>>> I'm aware of some existing efforts in overcoming the difficulty of
>>> calling R under Windows like the R batch files project
>>> (http://code.google.com/p/batchfiles/), but I believe this is better
>>> to be solved in R directly.
>>> Thanks!
>>> Regards,
>>> Yihui
>>> --
>>> Yihui Xie<xieyihui at gmail.com>
>>> Phone: 515-294-2465 Web: http://yihui.name
>>> Department of Statistics, Iowa State University
>>> 2215 Snedecor Hall, Ames, IA
>>> ______________________________________________
>>> R-devel at r-project.org mailing list
>>> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-devel

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