[R] I am surprised (and a little irritated)

Tom Backer Johnsen backer at psych.uib.no
Thu Apr 20 10:51:57 CEST 2006

Detlef Steuer wrote:
> Hi,
> I`m the one to blame for the readme :-) and for providing the rpms.

I am sorry, but the note was not primarily directed at you, perhaps (I
am not sure) just as much at Linux in general, or Suse, or OpenSuse,
or ...  In any case, I am sure you do a great job at providing the
rpm's.  As to the readme, from my point of view there are some
information missing.
> If you encounter such big problems my readme sucks. But I'm open for
> critisism and will improve on the current situation for the
> release of R-2.3.0 next monday.

Using the word "sucks" is too strong.  But, so far, and from my point
of view, there is room for improvement.
> It would have helped, if I got the error messages you saw. Now  I just
> have to guess.

After installing Linux using the OpenSuse download CD's, when I try to
install the rpm for R-base, I am informed that "libblas.so.3 is not
available" and the same with "libgfortran.so.0".  Neither of the two
are in the list in the readme.  However, I guess (which should not be
necessary) that the first refers to "blas-3.0-926" in the list, and
the second to "gcc-fortran-4.0.2...".  But I have have been unable to
locate these elements, neither on the CD's, nor on the dvd included in
the book on SUSE Linux 10 by McAllister which is supposed to have the
complete OpenSuse 10.  I may be wrong there, there are VERY many
rpms's on the dvd, but the task is not very simple.

The key is probably (perhaps) in the part where you have written:

<quote>From R-2.2.1 on you can use the CRAN-Mirror near you as YAST
installation source. Just add $CRANMIRROR/bin/linux/suse/MAJOR.MINOR
as a http source as an installation source for yast. Alternatively you
may use the main package repository
http://fawn.hsu-hh.de/~steuer/SL-10.0-OSS .</quote>

But I have been unable to see where to use this information with YAST
and how.  So, what is needed is information for the uninformed.

As far as I can see, a possible solution may be in using the "apt"
approach as suggested in the McAllister book.  Therefore I have
installed the "synaptic" program as well, but so far (that was late in
the day at the office and I do not have a full connection with the
Internet and Linux from home yet, only http), it did not help.  I'll
try again later today.
> I think you'll be able to find a step by step instruction by the end of
> the week on CRAN.

I am looking forward to that.  I hope that my tale of unsuccessful
attempts will be useful.

> Part of the problem is that R and Suse are moving targets. On the
> opensuse side there are packages, which are not on the CDs but in the
> online repositories that have to be downloaded seperately. Ranting
> alone won't help.

I am sure you are right about the problem.  As I have said before, I
do not intend to rant in any way.  But I would very much like to see
that R is as available on SUSE Linux (and Linux in general) as it is
on Windows for newcomers like me.

> Look here: http://www.thejemreport.com/mambo/content/view/178/42/
> for some introductory material.
> You can add http://fawn.hsu-hh.de/~steuer/SL-10.0-OSS as installation
> source for R and ESS.

That link looks very useful.  Perhaps the readme could be somewhat

> That the installation procedure is different for any flavour of Linux
> than the one you know from windows should not surprise you. Whatever
> distribution you'll end up using: the time invested to learn the
> respective package management system will pay back.

Yes, I am sure you are right, and I am not surprised at the
differences between the various flavours of Linux.  Still, I think
that instructions on installing R on a particular distribution should
be oriented towards the completely unintiated user.  More experienced
users can skip the trivial (in their view) parts.  But it should be
there by default.

I have to add that it is not very constructive to say "read the
manual" as some of the responses (not you) to my mail imply.  I do not
mind to read the manual, but at least I would like to know where to
look in the manuals.

In any case, would it be possible to persuade SUSE to include R in the
installation, at least as an option?
> Feel free to ask any question on R on SuSE. I would be happy to send
  you the next readme for review.

Thank you.  I look forward to that.


| Tom Backer Johnsen, Psychometrics Unit,  Faculty of Psychology |
| University of Bergen, Christies gt. 12, N-5015 Bergen,  NORWAY |
| Tel : +47-5558-9185                        Fax : +47-5558-9879 |
| Email : backer at psych.uib.no    URL : http://www.galton.uib.no/ |

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