[R] including R in the SuSE Linux distribution

Faheem Mitha faheem at email.unc.edu
Sat Mar 18 21:13:23 CET 2000

Dear R people,

This message is not a message for help, so strictly off-topic, but I
wanted to reach as many users of R as possible. Please excuse the fact
that it is off-topic.

I use Linux, and the distribution I use is the German based commercial
distribution SuSE. SuSE prides itself on trying to be a comprehensive
distribution of free software. However, they do not include R (or for that
matter ESS) in their distribution. I have written to them a couple of
times about this, to the address feedback at suse.de, which seems to be the
appropriate one. Albrecht Gebhardt, who maintains the SuSE rpms for R and
ESS (contained in the CRAN archives) has also written several times.
Neither of us have ever received a reply.

Now I know that not everyone uses R on a Linux platform, let alone uses
SuSE, but what I feel is that if everyone who uses R on SuSE, and feels
that it should be included in the distribution, writes to SuSE, it will
probably have some effect. Even if you don't use SuSE or even use Linux,
but if you feel that R is good enough to be included, then there is
nothing stopping you from writing, obviously. However, I am mainly asking
people who use SuSE to consider writing.

So, to summarise, if you use SuSE and feel R and/or ESS should be included
in the distribution, consider writing directly to SuSE. Whether or not you
do write to SuSE, let me know if you would like to sign (in an email
sense) a joint letter to SuSE. I thought that it might be a good idea to
send a joint letter to SuSE, with email addresses attached, from everyone
who was interested in R becoming part of the standard SuSE distribution.

If you have read this far, at this point you may be wondering, why bother?
Well, SuSE Linux is the most widely used version of Linux in Europe and is
extensively used elsewhere. The spread of Linux itself is growing. I think
that if R is included in the SuSE distribution, then this may increase R's
dissemination. Not everyone (even those who use Splus) is aware of R's
existence, and there are probably many people who would find a developed
statistical analysis package such as R useful, but cannot afford the
commercial statistical packages. For example, I have heard that TeX/LaTeX
is now being more widely used outside academic environments than ever
before in its history, due to the fact that it is included in most
standard distributions of Linux. A book has even been written called
`Latex for Linux'. Of all the major distributions of Linux, the only one
that tries to be as comprehensive as SuSE is Debian, and I don't use
Debian and am not that familiar with it. It may already include R and ESS
for all I know. So, there seems little point in talking to most of the
other major distributions about this.

I include a sample of the kind of joint letter that I was thinking of
sending SuSE.

Please let me know if you have comments/corrections about the joint
letter, or anything else in this message. Please email me at
faheem at email.unc.edu

                     Sincerely, Faheem Mitha
                                Dept of Statistics
                                Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Dear SuSE Team, 

I am writing to you about the free statistical analysis package R, and the
associated package ESS (Emacs Speaks Statistics), which is a elisp package
that provides a nice interface between Emacs and a number of other
statistical packages, including R and Splus.

R is somewhat similar to Splus version 3. It is actively developed by
people around the world, and has recently reached version 1.0.0,
reflecting the belief of the developers that it has reached a state of
maturity and is ready for wide-spread usage.

We, the undersigned, feel that R and ESS would be a valuable addition to
the excellent and comprehensive SuSE distribution. The SuSE distribution
already contains similar packages. For example, you include Scilab, which
is similar to the commercial package Matlab.

There are already SuSE rpms for R and ESS available on CRAN (Comprehensive
R Archive Network) (COMMENT: include a URL?), which are provided by
Albrecht Gebhardt. You could use these to assist you in integrating R and
ESS into the SuSE distribution.



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