[R] including R in the SuSE Linux distribution

(Ted Harding) Ted.Harding at nessie.mcc.ac.uk
Sun Mar 19 12:28:56 CET 2000

On 18-Mar-00 Faheem Mitha wrote:
> Dear R people,
> [snip]
> 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.

I have a lot of sympathy with Faheem Mitha's original message (excerpt
above). However, maybe a comment or two is in order.

For each major Linux distribution (such as SuSE, Red Hat, Debian) there
are people associated with putting the distribution together who are
"maintainers" for that distribution of each package. Not "maintainer"
in the sense of being responsible for development of the software, but
responsible for ensuring (and making any necessary minor changes so as
to ensure) that the package will compile within that Linux distribution,
and that any necessary libraries will be present, compatible, and
correctly used; for taking account of distribution-specific peculiarities
such as just _where_ in the directory tree different parts should go;
etc.; for making sure that none of this clashes with the rest of what goes
out on the distribution; and for keeping al this up-to-date as the
software package evolves in the hands of its developers.

I might hazard a guess that SuSE do not have in their team someone who
does this -- or would do it -- for R, as the reason why R does not go
out on the SuSE CDs.

I did not know that Albrecht Gebhardt had been making RPMs for SuSE
(though apparently independently of the SuSE team). Maybe, assuming
his packaging could be SuSE-approved, this would be the simplest
way to get R into SuSE.

Meanwhile, however, as a user of both R, and of SuSE Linux since SuSE-5.1
of 1997, I have never encountered difficulties compiling R on SuSE
from the sources; and this is almost as convenient a way to go (except
that you have to download the R source instead of finding it on a CD).
It also offers you more flexibility in where in your directory tree you
put R, as well as add-ons like CODA.

However, since I subscribe to the SuSE mailing-list, I could send a mail
and see if there's a reply, though Albrecht's message indicates that
steps are already being taken. What SuSE, apparently, really need is
someone who will do for SuSE what Albrecht has already done in CRAN.

Finally, thanks to all of you -- the R developers, and Albrecht and
any other people giving similar benefit to the community -- for all
that you do to develop and disseminate R.


E-Mail: (Ted Harding) <Ted.Harding at nessie.mcc.ac.uk>
Date: 19-Mar-00                                       Time: 11:28:55
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