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

Gabor Grothendieck ggrothendieck at gmail.com
Wed May 4 16:34:37 CEST 2011

On Wed, May 4, 2011 at 8:11 AM, Duncan Murdoch <murdoch.duncan at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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 use.
> 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 you.
> 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.

The batchfiles handle this using Rversions.bat.  Without arguments it
lists the available R versions and with an argument it makes that the
current version of R so that Rgui.bat, R.bat, invoke that version.
Rversions.bat works by running the appropriate RSetReg.exe utility
(which is a utility that is included in every R distribution).

Of course if you just want to run a specific version of Rgui each
version has a separate icon on the desktop so one can select the
version of interest that way too.

I personally keep about half a dozen back versions of R for the
reasons others have mentioned and these would include one R-13.x
version, one R-12.x version, etc.  I literally use x in the name since
only the most recent version in any such series is stored. That is,
when a new R-2.13.x comes out I just install it over the existing

 Directory of C:\Program Files\R

31/03/2010  02:37 PM    <DIR>          R-2.10.x
01/06/2010  01:03 PM    <DIR>          R-2.11.x
22/03/2011  03:25 PM    <DIR>          R-2.12.x
26/04/2011  01:45 PM    <DIR>          R-2.13.x

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